Following consultation, the Government is likely to ask sellers to provide more information about their property before it goes to market in a bid to speed up the buying process and make the process more transparent through a property Logbook.
Matt Prior from the Ministry of Housing said that ‘’for leasehold properties, for instance, it is not unreasonable to tell prospective buyers how many years are left on a lease and what the service charge is. It is ridiculous that such information is not provided up front’’ he said. Prior continued that ‘’up front information allows people to make more informed decisions’’ The home buying process currently takes 19 weeks on average with the cost of failed transactions at £270m a year.” Prior stated ‘’You’ve got a process where people are kind of misled. They don’t understand how long it’s going to take. People move somewhere between one and two times after they make their first home move. It’s a process that consumers are pretty unfamiliar with. It should not take 19 weeks to buy a house. It should be possible to get a lot of data about the property up front.’’
The Law Society and Conveyancing Association have called for the introduction of Property Logbooks but some are worried that these would replicate Home Information Packs (HIPs). There is a sense that too much information is being withheld from the buyer and a clearer, more transparent system is needed. HIPs were designed for the sales process and not for the lifetime value of the property. A property log book would stay with the property and be passed on between owners. Technology will allow a digital property log book to contain as much information as required, going beyond just legal documentation but including warranties and maintenance information.
The consultation also asked whether there should be a move towards e-conveyancing, which was largely supported. Prior said ‘’many were concerned about fraud. It’s a real consumer barrier. There’s an assumption that giving people a lot of access to information makes them feel less safe.’’ Prior said ‘’technology should add value to the process, not completely cut out humans – the experts’’.
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