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MPs launch inquiry to improve ‘stressful’ homebuying and selling process

MPs launch inquiry to improve ‘stressful’ homebuying and selling process
Shekina Tuahene
Written By:
Shekina Tuahene
Posted:
27/03/2024
Updated:
27/03/2024

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) committee has launched an inquiry on improving the homebuying and selling process in England.

The homebuying and selling inquiry will look at the transaction process, the information available to buyers, and the role of estate agents and conveyancers. 

Evidence sessions will take place in April and the committee is expected to question consumers, professionals and industry groups. This will conclude with questions to the Department for Levelling Up, Communities, and the housing minister. 

Questions will include: “How efficient or effective is the existing process for buying and selling homes? How could this be improved?”, “What is the impact of issues in the transaction process, such as gazumping or gazundering, and how could they be remedied?”, and “Do buyers have the right information available at the right time during transactions?”. 

It will also ask if consumers have enough information when choosing a conveyancer and how this can be improved.

The closing date for evidence submissions will be 18 April. 

Homebuying and selling a ‘stressful’ process 

Clive Betts, chair of the LUHC committee – which last year called on the Government for a reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) update – said: “The process of buying and selling a home in England is often stressful for those involved. Indeed, despite there being around two million households who successfully buy or sell their home each year, consumers often find the process is not as efficient, effective, or as consumer-friendly as it could be.

“As part of this inquiry, we will look at the chief obstacles to improving the process of buying and selling a home.”

He added: “We will be keen to examine issues such as the time taken to complete a transaction and challenges in finding the right information. Topics such as a lack of transparency around conveyancing services, the payment of ‘referral fees’, and the weak regulation of estate agents will also be on our agenda in this inquiry.” 

Sheila Kumar, chief executive at the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, said: “We welcome MPs recognising the very great importance of reform of the homebuying and selling process. Upfront information, digitisation and streamlining of the process will all be key in ensuring smoother, faster and more secure transactions that lead to better outcomes for consumers. The demands of operating the housing market under pandemic restrictions played a part in moving things along, but the pace of progress needs to be maintained if we are to deliver all the potential benefits of reform to consumers and the economy.

“Industry groups such as the Digital Property Market Steering Group and the Home Buying and Selling Group have been doing fantastic work to focus on what is needed, and this inquiry will provide a useful test of the direction of travel and galvanise the huge number of organisations and individuals that will need to deliver improvement. We look forward to providing evidence and working with the inquiry team.”

Related: Positive shift in house buyer and seller activity in February