Plans to make buying and selling a home less stressful

The government says it wants to streamline the process of buying and selling a home so that it’s easier, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned.

It’s begun a public consultation seeking ideas on how to make the system work more smoothly.

A survey of 2,000 people who have bought or sold a home recently highlighted some key issues:

  • of those that experienced delays, 69% of sellers and 62% of buyers reported stress and worry because of the delay
  • 46% of sellers had concerns about a buyer changing their mind after making an offer
  • 24% of sellers would use a different estate agent if they were to go through the process again.

Research from Which? shows that people find moving house more stressful than having children.

One of the main issues of concern for buyers was gazumping, with sellers accepting an offer from a buyer but then rejecting it afterwards in favour of a higher bid from a new buyer.

For their part, sellers feared that the buyer could pull out at any time. Although 1 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.

The government now wants to explore ways to restore trust and confidence between the two sides.

This could involve new schemes including lock-in arrangements, making it more difficult for either side to renege on an agreement.

Other ideas to improve the system include providing better guidance for buyers and sellers, by encouraging them to gather more information in advance so homes are ‘sale ready’.

Ministers also want to explore innovative digital solutions such as making more data available online.

A public consultation on the issues will run until December.

Please contact us if you would like advice about the legal aspects of buying or selling a home.