Government to look at plans to tackle gazumping

Plans to make buying and selling a home "cheaper, faster and less stressful" by tackling gazumping and speeding up the process using technology are to be considered by the Communities Secretary.

Sajid Javid has called for evidence from estate agents, solicitors and mortgage lenders to ensure buyers and sellers can save time and money and focus more on finding their "dream home".

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Government is looking for views on:

Gazumping - when a seller accepts a higher offer from a new buyer

Building trust - ministers will look at schemes such as "lock-in agreements" to build confidence in the housing chain as although a million homes are bought and sold in England every year, a quarter of sales fall through

Innovation - looking for digital solutions including putting more data online to speed up the process, which is currently "too slow" and costs time and money

Information - encouraging buyers and sellers to gather more information in advance so homes are "sale ready".

For sale signs
(Andrew Matthews/PA)

Mr 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 also published a survey of 2,000 people which showed 69% of sellers and 62% of buyers report stress and worry as a result of delays.

Nearly half (46%) of sellers had concerns about buyers changing their minds after making an offer and almost a quarter (24%) would use a different estate agent if they had to go through the process again.

Almost a third (32%) of sellers and 28% of buyers were dissatisfied with the other party's solicitor, the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

The call for evidence will run for eight weeks from Sunday.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey described the proposals as "feeble" and said they showed ministers do not understand the scale of the problems facing buyers.

Shadow housing minister John Healey
Shadow housing minister John Healey (Jonathan Brady/PA)

"This smacks of a political diversion from the hard facts of the Tories' housing record," he said.

"Home ownership is at a 30-year low and the number of younger homeowners is in freefall, but ministers can only come up with a 'call for evidence' on improving the home-buying process.

"Compare the Tories' feeble gesture to Labour's plans - 100,000 discounted homes for first-time buyers, a cut in stamp duty, first dibs on new homes for local people and new protections for home-owners.

"This is a government out of touch and out of ideas. Conservatives know housing was a big part of why they did so badly at the election, but after seven years of failure, ministers still have no plan to fix the housing crisis."

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