Eight in 10 estate agents would welcome a reform of the “outdated” house-buying process

PUBLISHED: 15:52 31 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:57 01 November 2017

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79 per cent of estate agents would welcome a reform of the current home-buying process, according to research from NAEA Propertymark.

Supply and demand for properties in September reached the highest number recorded since March this year, yet the number of sales agreed remained flat, with an average of eight per branch – the same as July and August. The proportion of sales made to first time buyers was 23 per cent in September, which is also the same as the previous two months.

These stagnating results have been blamed on the “out-dated” and “slow” home-buying process, which the Government is now attempting to modernise.

For this, Sajid Javid, Communities Secretary, announced that the Government intends to consult with estate agents, solicitors, mortgage lenders and anyone with an interest in home buying on how to make the process “cheaper, faster and less stressful for those involved”. This call for evidence will run for eight weeks and close shortly before Christmas.

Among other improvements, Sajid mentioned his intention to increase confidence in the housing chain, provide better guidance to buyers and sellers to ensure homes are sale ready, as well as look for innovative digital solutions to modernise the process.

Javid said: “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. 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 to make the process cheaper, faster and less stressful.”

A modernisation of the process is welcomed by James Morton, director at north London estate agents Benham & Reeves, who said: “In theory, giving both buyer and seller security in the transaction is an excellent idea but difficult to achieve. Indeed, we’ve been there before with the ‘Sellers Pack’, which was prohibitively expensive and didn’t work.”

“Many of the over sensationalised headlines in the past have centred on gazumping, but this isn’t as regular an occurrence as the press and government would have us believe, especially in this current market where multiple buyers for a single property is rare. Just as common is gazundering, when the buyer reduces their offer to buy the property just before exchange of contracts, putting a seller over a barrel. Anything to speed up the transaction process and save aborted costs for buyers and sellers would be welcomed,” he added.

Daisy Knight, who currently lives in north London and has recently had an offer accepted on a house, would also support a reform of the home-buying process. The 28-year-old said: “I didn’t realise quite how long of a process it would be after the offer was accepted. It feels like a rollercoaster ride as there are so many stages and a lot of time and effort required into contacting solicitors, mortgage brokers and surveyors. I can only imagine the process is doubly as stressful if you are stuck in a long chain!”

“There is also the worry of issues coming up that might mean in the end, with all the effort (and some sunk costs), the purchase may fall through anyway. It’s scary to think nothing is legally binding until the exchange,” she added.

Research from Which? revealed that Daisy is far from alone in finding the current home-buying process arduous.

Overall, it was found that 70 per cent of people believe selling a house is the most stressful life event, just 8 per cent lower than people who chose going through a divorce.

For more information about the Government’s plans to modernise the home-buying process, and to respond to the call for evidence online visit gov.uk

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