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Transforming the Home Buying and Selling Process: A Vision for the Future

October 17, 2023

Buying and selling homes in England has long been a topic of discussion and debate, plagued by lengthy transaction times, uncertainty on exchange, completion, and moving days. The Home Buying and Selling Group (HBSG) has taken a significant step toward improving this process by releasing a discussion paper titled "How to improve buying and selling in England." This paper aims to engage all stakeholders in the home buying and selling process to collectively build a roadmap for a more efficient and consumer-friendly future.

The Home Buying and Selling Group

The Home Buying and Selling Group, established in 2018, is a diverse assembly of individuals and organisations representing the property, legal, and finance sectors. Its primary objective is to enhance the home buying and selling experience for everyone involved. Over the years, the group has collaborated on several initiatives, including providing guidance for the home-moving industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and extending the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). The latest discussion paper demonstrates the group's commitment to fostering positive change in the industry.

Challenges in the Current Process

The discussion paper acknowledges that England's current home buying and selling process is riddled with challenges. Notable issues include extended transaction times leading to fall-throughs, a lack of certainty regarding exchange, completion, and moving day, and inadequate communication. These problems affect not only consumers but also professionals involved in the process.

Critical Objectives for Immediate Implementation

To address these issues, the HBSG outlines three key objectives that can be implemented right away:

  1. Instructing a legal company from day one of marketing: By involving legal experts early in the process, potential issues can be identified and resolved promptly, reducing transaction times and increasing transparency.
  2. Buyers being financially qualified before viewings: Ensuring that buyers are economically qualified before viewing properties minimises the risk of fall-throughs and streamlines the process.
  3. Aiming to move everyone by 1 p.m. on the day of completion: Establishing a consistent completion time can reduce uncertainty and make the moving process more efficient.

Ambitious Goals for the Future

In addition to these immediate changes, the HBSG has proposed seven ambitious goals that could revolutionise the home buying and selling process:

  1. Regulation of estate agencies to ensure consistent standards.
  2. A single source of truth for property data to eliminate discrepancies and errors.
  3. Clear and consistent communication with consumers to empower both buyers and sellers.
  4. Mandating the provision of information that enhances transaction certainty.
  5. An approved digital identity verification process that is reliable for all parties involved.
  6. Keys must be available by 1 p.m. on completion day, ensuring a smoother transition.
  7. Prioritising leasehold reform to address existing issues in this sector.

The Path Forward

The HBSG's discussion paper is a significant step toward transforming England's home buying and selling process. By involving various stakeholders, including government bodies, industry professionals, and the media, the group aims to generate discussions and garner support for these proposed changes. The ultimate goal is to create a more consumer-centric, efficient, and transparent process that benefits not only homebuyers and sellers but also the industry as a whole.

The release of the discussion paper "How to improve buying and selling in England" by the Home Buying and Selling Group marks a pivotal moment in the effort to transform the home buying and selling process. The HBSG seeks to make the process more efficient, transparent, and consumer-friendly by addressing key issues and proposing practical solutions. With input from all stakeholders, including the government and the media, there is hope for a brighter future in the real estate industry, benefitting consumers and professionals alike.

Information gathered from Today’s Conveyancing, see here

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