Areas of potential reform – moving home
by Lauren Meade (nee Hayes), 24 September 2018
The Law Commission has identified “moving home” as a potential project for reform in the near future subject to resources.
At the time of publishing its 13th Programme of Law Reform at the end of last year the Law Commission was awaiting for the Government to refer its plan. There have been some developments in this area and, following a call for evidence, the Government published a response in April 2018.
The ministerial foreword of the response acknowledges the Government’s recognition that the current home buying and selling process in England is not fit for purpose being stressful, time-consuming and costly for buyers and sellers.
The Government has made a commitment to reform the process in a way that will works for buyers and sellers and not against them. The Government has also said that there is no ‘silver bullet’ and in order to fix the process there are a number of practical changes that will need to be taken together to make the experience better.
In summary, the Government’s “plan of action” to deliver its promise to build a process which is quicker, cheaper and less stressful is as follows:
- Improving the consumer experience through:
- Better Estate Agent regulation.
- Creating more transparency surrounding referral fees between conveyancers / mortgage brokers and estate agents.
- Developing guides on “How to Buy” and “How to Sell” to compliment the existing “How to Rent” and planned “How to Let” and “How to Lease”.
- Enabling consumers to make a more informed choice of conveyancer including the consideration of service level and not just price.
- Improving the process of dealing with buyer complaints in respect of new builds.
- Improving the releasing of funds to make moving day better.
- Reducing the time from offer to completion by:
- Establishing a technology working group so that user needs for new digital technology can be better understood, to stimulate innovation and for the group’s priority in the short term to be working on digital signatures, improving ID verification processes and promoting the wider adoption of e-conveyancing and in the long term to work with innovators to explore routes to market for technological solutions.
- Encouraging sellers to collect together all relevant information in advance in order to make the property “sale ready” in an attempt to put more information upfront and to avoid delays.
- Fixing time frames and maximum fees for the provision of leasehold information, encouraging managing agents to make this information available electronically to enable instant access and standardising the leasehold information form.
- Speeding up local authority searches with local authorities being expected to respond to requests within 10 working days with action to be taken against them if they fail to meet expected performance levels.
- Recommending in the “How to Buy” guide that all non-cash buyers to obtain a Decision in Principle before they are able to view or make offers on properties.
- To reduce failed transactions by the introduction of reservation agreements to increase commitment between buyer and sellers earlier in the process to help provide more certainty and reduce the risk of gazumping.