Articles about solicitors and legal services

Process of buying and selling homes comes under scrutiny

The provision of Home Information Packs (HIPs) will come under scrutiny by the Office of Fair Trading as part of a market study into the process of buying and selling homes.

The study is being carried out to ensure that consumers are getting a good service. It will examine competition on price and quality between service providers, particularly estate agents.

It will also look at the relationships between estate agents and mortgage brokers, surveyors, solicitors and other professional advisers.

The move has been welcomed by the Law Society which says a review that considers "the lack of transparency around the role, responsibilities and payment of estate agents, is desperately needed".

The study will try to establish whether the existing regulatory framework strikes the right balance between protecting consumers and ensuring that the market remains competitive and innovative.

The Law Society president, Paul Marsh, said: "The Law Society has been asking for a review of this kind for over five years and it is clear that the lack of clarity regarding the legal obligations of estate agents in the market is a problem for all involved.

"There is a clear distinction between advertising properties for sale and the much more complex handling of detailed negotiations between a buyer and a seller.

"An independent review of HIPs has been needed since it was first introduced, we are extremely pleased that at last it is going ahead.

"Solicitors are highly regulated and the system has been reformed recently by the Legal Services Act. It is about time that everyone involved in the property market stepped up to an appropriate level of regulation for the benefit of the consumers and for fair competition."

The OFT intends to complete its study before the end of this year. We shall keep clients up to date with developments.

In the meantime, anyone wishing to buy or sell a property should get legal advice from a solicitor to protect their interests and ensure everything goes smoothly.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about Home Information Packs or any aspect of buying and selling a property.

If you wish to make an appointment, or ask us a question please contact us.