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Housing market experts want to reform home buying process

Some of the main professional organisations involved in the buying and selling of homes have been discussing ways to provide a better service to the consumer.

The Building Societies Association (BSA) chaired a meeting which included solicitors, estate agents, surveyors and consumer bodies to develop strategies to improve the system.

Most professionals welcomed the Government’s decision to abolish HIPs but said more still needs to be done. Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage Policy at the BSA, said: "The new Government has acted swiftly since coming to office suspending HIPs within its first few weeks. Work must continue to ensure customers receive better value and an improved experience. A key component in reforming the process remains providing the right information to the right person at the right time."

Christopher Hamer, the Property Ombudsman, said: "It is clear that a lack of consumer understanding and poor information on a wide range of issues from roles, terms of business and the process overall place consumers in a weak position."

The Law Society says that it has always supported the idea of buyers receiving information up front about a property they wish to buy but HIPs had not properly addressed the issue. It said: "Concern about the additional cost to sellers and lack of benefit to consumers has prompted the Law Society to propose a complete and comprehensive set of documents, prepared by a solicitor, who has the benefit of specialist legal training and professional responsibility.

"The Society is recommending that the information be provided in a standard format to bring proper value to consumers and improvements in the process whilst at the same time reducing cost."

The president Robert Heslett added: "The professional integrity and legal skills which solicitors have traditionally brought to the housing market are probably more important now than they have ever been.

"The marked increase in property fraud, including registration fraud and mortgage fraud, means that the role of the solicitors as the gatekeeper in the process assumes a greater importance.

"This role falls to solicitors as the most highly regulated professionals in the process. Solicitors can help consumers understand the residential conveyancing process, the role of the solicitor and others in the buying and selling market and to make informed choices."

We shall keep clients informed of developments. In the meantime, please contact us if you would more information about buying and selling a home.

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