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Government to tackle gazumping and time wasters

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The government is seeking views on ways to tackle gazumping, reduce time wasting and increase commitment to a property sale in a bid to improve the buying process.

Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, has launched a ‘call for evidence’ urging estate agents, solicitors and mortgage lenders to bring forward ideas on how to make the housing market work better.

Javid wants to make the home buying process cheaper, faster and less stressful as research published today revealed that worry about a sale or purchase led to delays – sellers worry about a buyer changing their mind and both buyers and sellers were often dissatisfied with the other party’s solicitor.

As part of the eight-week evidence session, the government wants to hear views on the following:

  • Gazumping: buyers are concerned about gazumping, with sellers accepting a higher offer from a new buyer
  • Building trust and confidence: mistrust between parties is one of the biggest issues faced so the government wants to look at schemes such as ‘lock-in agreements’. Although a million homes are bought and sold in England each year, around a quarter of sales fall through and hundreds of millions of pounds are wasted
  • Informing customers: How to provide better guidance for buyers and sellers, by encouraging them to gather more information in advance so homes are ‘sale ready’
  • Innovation: you can now search for a home online, but the buying process is too slow, costing time and money so the government’s looking for innovative digital solutions including making more data available online.

Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “We want to help everyone have a good quality home they can afford, and improving the process of buying and selling is part of delivering that. Buying a home is one of life’s largest investments, so if it goes wrong it can be costly. That’s why we’re determined to take action to make the process cheaper, faster and less stressful.

“This can help save people money and time so they can focus on what matters – finding their dream home. I want to hear from the industry on what more we can do to tackle this issue.”

The government said this process isn’t about adding extra work for buyers and sellers or a return to Home Information Packs (HIPs). It is also looking to other countries, such as Denmark and the USA to see how the home buying and selling process works as they’re perceived to work “much more smoothly”.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “Buying a home can be one of the most stressful experiences in life, with sales often taking too long or falling through with some consumers losing substantial sums of money.

“The current home buying process is outdated and flawed. The government must put consumers first, ensuring that estate agents deliver a better service for both home-buyers and sellers and that the conveyancing process is simplified.”