Is the Law Society helping to increase conveyancing fees?
The Law Society, in conjunction with InfoTrack and Perfect Portal, has announced the introduction of a new pilot scheme designed to speed up the process of making an informed house purchasing decision. Could buying and selling property become easier?
Software provided by InfoTrack will ask property sellers a number of questions that will be used to produce a shortened version of the transaction form, TA6. The process will speed up the production of key information for buying and selling property. Known as TA6 Part 1, it is hoped that sharing this crucial information at an early stage and making it available to buyers and sellers could more quickly influence purchasing decisions.
The current system can lead to repeated information being re-entered into the system which caused unnecessary delays in the house buying and selling process.
The types of key marketing information that will be shared include details of building and planning applications, history or likelihood of flooding, common areas that are shared with neighbouring properties, a previous survey resulting in a sale falling through, details of septic tanks or the presence of Japanese Knotweed.
If successful, the pilot scheme will be rolled out to form licensees, conveyancers and solicitors.
Under the current system, transactions can fall through during the process when new information comes to light. This is often only at the end of the house buying and selling journey, once solicitors become involved.
Caveat emptor (or buyer beware) no longer applies when buying property. Since 2013, the description and sale of a property has come under the Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations, meaning that anything not disclosed by the seller which could legitimately affect the buyer’s decision to purchase, could result in prosecution.
From April 2009, sellers were required to complete a Home Information Pack (HIP) but the scheme was suspended a year later. Nowadays the TA6 Property Information Form (PIF) and other related forms are used. These require sellers to complete a declaration prior to sale.
The information provided is not checked to ensure its accuracy or completeness and sellers have not always understood the questions, thought them relevant or even read them. This has resulted in home extensions, removal of internal walls, loft conversions or even full house rebuilds failing to be declared by the seller. Sellers are also required to inform the property buyer if a violent death has taken place at the property or if the neighbours have an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO).
Perhaps the next step would be to move the involvement of solicitors to the beginning of the process, so that such matters as retrospective planning permission or defective title can be resolved, making the whole process cheaper, easier and quicker for both buyer and seller?
This would, of course, require a financial commitment by the property seller prior to the sale, as they would be required to pay whether or not the sale completed. However, a commitment to sell the property would certainly be welcomed by committed home buyers, when many a housing transaction has fallen through due to a late change of heart by the seller.
Conveyancers and solicitors would also welcome such a move, with their fee income increased and assured prior to every potential house sale.