Industry experts call for mandatory upfront home selling information

With the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee inquiry into home buying and selling well underway, leading property experts have been letting the cross-party group of MPs know what it will take to improve the process. The key takeaway:  mandating upfront information to stop “second guessing” and to ensure “everyone has what they need”.

At an evidence session, representatives from the Home Buying and Selling Group, the HomeOwners Alliance, the Open Property Data Association, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Propertymark, and the Conveyancing Association all had their say.

Kate Faulkner, co-chair of the Home Buying and Selling Group, said her organisation had identified up to 300 pieces of information a buyer and other parties may need to know before an offer is agreed. She believes learning how to share this data at the start of the process would “revolutionise” the home buying and selling process.

Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association agreed that mandatory upfront information was the way to go, as requesting data after an offer has been made and accepted is contributing to failed transactions. She said:

“If you get a seller instructing on a property that they’re putting on the market, before they find a buyer if you say “fill in these forms” they’re absolutely all over it because they know their house is going to sell tomorrow and they just want to get it through… but if, once you’ve got a buyer who has put forward an offer and the seller’s accepted it, and then you say to the seller “provide us with information that might put your buyer off, that might cause the transaction to fall through”, they’re either going to be very much slower in providing this information, which is what we find, or they might just twist some of it and say “I don’t know”, and then it’s up to the buyer to discover that. And that then comes much later in the transaction, so you get people pulling out, and the huge cost to all of the industry and to the consumer of waste.”

However, in its written submission to the LUHC, Rightmove has warned that obtaining material information is more difficult for estate agents, and that while providing upfront info is a positive step, agents are dependent on vendors. Rightmove said: “Until it is mandated that professionals are instructed prior to listing, it is unlikely we will see significant growth in the performance of these statistics because sellers simply do not know the answers to these complex questions or where to find them.”

Calls for mandatory upfront information are not new. And we shouldn’t accept the current system just because that’s how we have always done things. Not least because consumers are overwhelmingly in favour of change. Indeed one Conveyancing Association survey revealed that 98% of consumers thought upfront information when buying a property was a good idea.

At Legal Eye, we believe a more transparent system, where information on whether a property is mortgage worthy is instantly available will benefit everyone involved. As such we recognise the need for reform and share the view of property professionals that mandating up-front information would result in fewer failed sales.

This article was published by Legal Eye as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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