Radical proposals for home buying and selling will help consumers

Big changes are on the way in the UK property market that will benefit homemovers and buyers.

The Government has announced measures to professionalise estate agents, to crack down on gazumping and to ensure buyers get the essential searches information they need to purchase much more quickly.

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important purchases someone will make in their life.

“But for far too long buyers and sellers have been trapped in a stressful system full of delays and uncertainty.

“So, we’re going to put the consumers back in the driving seat. We will require estate agents to hold a qualification so people are no longer at risk from a minority of ‘rogue agents’ and can trust the process when buying or selling their home.”

Unnecessary financial and emotional stress

More than a million homes are bought and sold in England every year. However, delays and complications during the conveyancing process cause both buyers and sellers unnecessary stress. This is particularly prevalent in leasehold sales where the sale depends on the freeholder or managing agent providing essential information about the property, but they often charge but excessive fees.

Government research has revealed that more than six out of every 10 buyers and sellers have suffered financial and emotional stress during a house sale.

The fear of a sale falling through before contracts are exchanged adds more uncertainty to the process. It’s at this point where buyers are vulnerable to gazumping, where the seller goes on to accept a higher offer, leaving the original buyer high and dry.

Meanwhile, more than a quarter of house sales fall through every year because of delays in providing information, and a quarter of sellers said they’d use a different estate agent if they were to sell again.

Professional qualification for estate agents

The Government proposals mean that estate agents will now have to hold a professional qualification and be up front about the fees they receive for referring clients to others involved in the sale process, including solicitors, surveyors and mortgage brokers.

The other proposals include:

  • Encouraging the use of voluntary reservation agreements to stop a sale falling through and cracking down on gazumping.
  • Setting a deadline for local authority searches so buyers receive essential information for a purchase within 10 days.
  • Ensuring managing agents and freeholders provide up-to-date information for a set fee and to an agree timetable.
  • Give the National Trading Standards Estate Agency team enforcement powers to ban rogue agents.
Developing innovative digital solutions

Mark Hayward, chief executive of the estate agency industry body NAEA Propertymark, welcomed the proposals, saying: “We particularly welcome the commitment to further regulation – we have long argued that estate agents should be recognised as professionals, this is an important step towards achieving this and we look forward to working with the government.”

Meanwhile, the Government is to set up a working group to develop innovative digital solutions in home buying and selling.