Call for evidence: ‘Faster and less stressful’ home buying promised

“A Conservative Government will reform and modernise the home-buying process so it is more efficient and less costly.”

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017

It is estimated that a quarter of the million house sales agreed each year in England fall through, wasting millions of pounds. The current system has evolved over hundreds of years but the government has promised to make home buying simpler and stop gazumping.

The government has launched a consultation aiming to improve the home buying and selling process – making it “cheaper, faster and less stressful” to buy a home.

The proposed overhaul began in October 2017 with an eight week review, seeking the views of recent movers, estate agents, mortgage lenders and solicitors involved in the process. Among considerations are ways to speed up the current lengthy process, and also:

Gazumping – when a seller accept a higher offer from a new buyer.

Building trust & confidence – tackle mistrust between parties and look at schemes including ‘lock-in agreements’, to increase confidence in the housing chain.

Informing customers – encourage buyers and sellers to gather more information in advance so homes are ‘sale ready’.

Innovation – reduce the timescale and costs by looking for innovative digital solutions including making more data available online.

So what currently happens when you make an offer to purchase a house?

Secure your funds – find out how much you can borrow by talking to your lender first. They will be able to provide a Decision in Principle so that you can make an offer.

Don’t get too excited, even if the property is love at first sight – think about what it would be like to live in. Look past the dated décor and consider whether there’s enough room, is there any sign of damp or rot (inside or out) and how much work is required to make it the house you want? You might also consider whether there are sufficient power sockets or a good enough central heating system.

Before you make an offer – visit the street at different times of different days, to make sure it really is quiet and peaceful. Think about whether you can live with a shared drive, overhead power cables or the bus stop outside the property.

Estate agent – works on behalf of the seller and will negotiate the sales price on their behalf. Once your offer is accepted, make sure the property is removed from the market to prevent another buyer from gazumping you.

Appoint a conveyancing professional – who will act on your behalf to manage the process, ensuring that legal title to the property passes to you from the seller. The conveyancer will not physically visit the house, so you must tell him/her if a particular aspect of the property is important to you. This will ensure that they check any restrictive covenants that might affect your new home in the future.

To make sure you are buying what you think you are buying – make sure the conveyancer shows you a copy of the title plan, which will show the boundaries.

Appoint an independent chartered surveyor – such as the surveyors on the  network. Your mortgage lender will commission a Mortgage Valuation to ensure the loan to value is acceptable, but this is for the lender’s valuation purposes only. Appointing an independent chartered surveyor to conduct a House Purchase Survey or Homebuyers Survey, where the surveyor will assess any building or structural issues with the house, will ensure that you are aware of any potential problems and costs related thereto. Make sure you discuss any concerns you have with your surveyor.

Inform your mortgage lender – you will need to complete your full mortgage application before you can receive an official offer of mortgage.

Removal firm – getting your belongings from your old home to your new  home must surely be one of the most stressful aspects of moving. Unless you have very few belongings, it’s worth protecting your belongings (and sanity) by employing a professional to help. Getting them to pack for you will ensure your fragile items are packed properly, and it’s worth finding out how much extra this will cost.

Insurance – make sure the insurance cover provided by a removal firm is adequate and remember that items you’ve packed yourself won’t be covered for breakage. Check with your contents insurer to ensure that your belongings are covered in transit, and you might need to extend your cover.

Financial safety – you will need to make some high value payments to the professionals you use during this process. The deposit will be paid to the conveyancer, and the surveyor and removals firm will charge fees. Protect yourself by checking that the payment details you have are correct, particularly before making a transaction online. An increasing number of fraudsters are on the look-out for new property buying victims.


Contact your local independent surveyor for more advice on buying and selling property in England and Wales.