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BLOG: the hidden crisis in the housing market

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17/04/2013
Schemes to help first time buyers get on the property ladder are just one part of the puzzle, writes Joanna Faith.
BLOG: the hidden crisis in the housing market

Two of my friends are buying their first flat together. They are both in their early 30s, on decent salaries and are intelligent people. They have found the perfect pad and have saved up a good deposit.

Sound like a fairy-tale story? Well, actually it’s been more of a nightmare.

Despite having the finances in place and a vendor who is desperate to sell, they have faced countless obstacles for one simple reason: no-one has ever taught them how to buy a property. They were never given a how-to guide, never offered step-by-step directions.

From solicitors and advisers to lenders and surveyors, they have dealt with countless professionals – and from what I gather, these people have all done a fine job. But at no point were my friends sat down and told when to do what, how much it would all cost and when it would all have to be paid for.

Let me reiterate, these are two bright people. Yet they nearly lost their dream home several times because of the overcomplicated home-buying process in this country and a lack of good advice from anyone.

A quick Google search will provide you with a whole slew of generic ‘top tips’-type articles. But if I were spending thousands of pounds worth of fees, I’d expect at least one professional to sit down and give me some sort of guidance specific to my situation. That way I’d know who was responsible for what, an idea of how long the process was going to take and how much it was going to cost, and an overall feeling of confidence. I’d also be less likely to make costly mistakes.

The schemes to help first time buyers get on the property ladder are just one part of the puzzle. The whole process needs to become more straightforward and the home buying industry needs to cut the jargon and explain the practicalities of buying a property in plain English.

Perhaps my friends were unlucky. But until it is made compulsory for solicitors or advisers to explain in simple terms how the process works, this type of story will become a bigger and bigger issue.

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