Articles about solicitors and legal services

Law Society wants to improve the way we buy and sell homes

The Law Society is looking at ways to improve the process of buying and selling homes for the benefit of consumers.

It plans to publish formal proposals by the end of this year but in the meantime it has been consulting with various individuals, firms and organisations involved in conveyancing.

The general consensus was that while no radical changes are needed, there are some improvements that could be made, particularly in the area of accreditation schemes.

The Law Society has often raised concerns that some professionals involved in conveyancing, such as estate agents, are not strictly regulated in the way that solicitors are.

This has led the society to warn sellers that some estate agents could overcharge them for Home Information Packs (HIPs) which have to be provided when a house is put on the market. A recent investigation by Channel 4 found that some agents were commissioning HIPs from outside providers and then adding more than £100 to the price charged to the consumer.

A Law Society spokesman, Paul Marsh, urged consumers to approach their solicitor before buying a HIP because law firms are strictly regulated and are required to be fully open with clients about their fees.

He also advised sellers to consult their solicitor before filling out the Property Information Questionnaire (PIQs) which are now an obligatory part of HIPs. Mr Marsh said: "PIQs are supposed to provide information for potential buyers about the property, but if they are not completed correctly it could harm the relationship between buyer and seller.

"A solicitor will be able to assist in completing the questionnaire to ensure it is accurate.

"The professional integrity and legal skills which solicitors traditionally bring to the housing market are just as key now as they have always been and probably more important than ever."

Please contact us if you would like more information about HIPs or any aspect of buying and selling a property.

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