Buying or selling your home can be a stressful experience and, as solicitors, we want to make this as simple and straightforward process for you. However, the number of parties involved in the process can sometimes delay the process. From estate agents, two or more sets of solicitors, banks and mortgage advisers to the buyer and seller themselves. The Government has recently looked at simplifying the conveyancing process to benefit all parties. Let’s take a look at the changes suggested….
Estate agents are regulated by the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team. The Government has proposed working with this organisation firstly to ensure that standards of care are complied with across all estate agencies; and secondly that enforcement action can be taken if standards are not complied with. There is no current minimum professional qualification to operate as an estate agent. Therefore, consultations will also take place on the creation of such qualification. Agents will then have proper training and follow a streamlined protocol.
Government figures show that around one quarter of transactions fail each year. This creates a lot of worry for sellers – will the sale actually make it to completion? This is particularly stressful when a seller wants to purchase another property, which is dependent on the sale. The Government is particularly interested in using reservation agreements. These are where the purchaser pays a small deposit on signing up to purchasing a property. The new build property industry in the UK and the property industry in other countries already use them. The use of reservation agreements could allow for more security for sellers by committing buyers at an early stage.
A purchaser will normally carry out searches on the property to check for drainage, environmental and mining issues. One of the searches is a search which the local authority carries out. Each authority varies in time taken to process a search however the searches can range from five days to four weeks, particularly if there is a backlog at the local authority. The Government has proposed imposing time limits on providing these searches. If the local authority does not provide the searches within a maximum of 10 days, enforcement action could be taken.
Leasehold properties and management fees
Delays are prevalent when selling or buying leasehold properties such as an apartment or a flat. This is because there is normally a landlord or management company involved who must reply to a list of enquiries and provide a number of documents to the buyer’s solicitor. On top of this, the seller is expected to pay fees of up to £500 for the information requested from the Landlord. This also applies to freehold properties where there is a management company managing the estate. The seller should contact the freeholder or management company as early in the process as possible to ensure that any delays are minimal.
The Government has suggested imposing time limits on landlords and freeholders for providing this information as well as maximum fees.
One of the suggested reforms is the creation of public information guides on ‘how to sell’ and ‘how to buy’. These guides would give clear information on the selling and buying process to help people make informed choices. One of the most important choices is which solicitor to use for the property sale or purchase. Consumers should consider not just price but also the quality of service. Many firms hold a specialist accreditation which ensure that they comply with set standards.
There is no single way to simplify the property buying and selling process however the above reforms together should assist most people buying or selling a property, and help individuals be more informed during the transaction.
At Levi Solicitors, our teams of residential property and new build property experts are accredited by the Conveyancing Quality Scheme. We will explain the conveyancing process throughout the various stages and ensure that we complete your sale in accordance with your timescales. Call us today on 0800 988 7756 for a no obligation quote.