Plans to simplify housing sales and combat ‘gazumping’

November 16, 2017  |   Posted by :   |   Blog

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Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has launched a two-month review of the housing industry in an attempt to streamline the home-buying process and tackle delays, including the contentious practice of ‘gazumping’, in which sellers accept higher offers from last-minute buyers after having previously accepted a lower offer. Not only will the initial buyer lose the property, but they will also lose money spent on surveys, mortgage applications, searches and solicitor fees.

Mr Javid has asked to ‘hear from the industry’ for suggestions on ways to improve and ‘build confidence’ in the housing market, such as ‘lock-in agreements’ to secure deals and prevent delays.

Of the million housing transactions in England each year, a quarter of sales fall through as chains break down, sellers accept gazumping offers, and buyers find themselves unable to secure a mortgage. The review intends to identify methods of speeding up the home-buying process and advise buyers on how to get themselves ‘sale-ready’ to improve their chances of a successful transaction.

Mr Javid has called for advice from solicitors, mortgage lenders and estate agents to “help save people money and time so they can focus on what matters – finding their dream home. Buying a home is one of life’s largest investments, so if it goes wrong it can be costly. That’s why we’re determined to take action.

“We want to help everyone have a good quality home they can afford, and improving the process of buying and selling is part of delivering that. ”

The review follows recent proposals to explore ways to protect leaseholders and tenants from ‘rogue agents’, however Shadow housing secretary has derided the plan, claiming that ‘after seven years of failure, ministers still have no plan to fix the housing crisis.’ Which? Magazine spokesperson Alex Neill describes the house-buying process as ‘outdated and flawed’, and claims that “buying a home can be one of the most stressful experiences in life, with sales often taking too long or falling through, with some consumers losing substantial sums of money.

“The government must put consumers first, ensuring that estate agents deliver a better service for both home-buyers and sellers and that the conveyancing process is simplified.”

The plans to prevent unfair gazumping have also been challenged by estate agents, who claim that they have a legal obligation to pass on all potential offers to sellers. In addition, almost half of sellers surveyed in a recent government report claimed they had concerns over buyers changing their minds after making an offer, and 24% of the 2000 people surveyed said they would consider using a different estate agent following a deal falling through.

The most effective way of maximizing your chances of a successful sale is to engage a property and conveyancing solicitor as early as possible in the process, and ensuring that all the necessary paperwork, searches, mortgage arrangements and legal admin is in place before you make an offer. Using an experienced solicitor and keeping in close contact with estate agents, sellers and buyers is also vital, and can prevent costly delays.

For a free online conveyancing quote and advice on the home-buying process from solicitors with over 50 years’ experience in the housing industry, speak to our property and conveyancing team at Frances Lindsay & Co. We offer a range of legal services across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, including Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross, Henley, High Wycombe, Maidenhead, Marlow and Windsor.

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