New rules sought to cut stress of buying a house

A clampdown on gazumping and other tactics that cause misery to housebuyers and sellers is being drawn up by the government as part of a renewed attempt to reduce the stress of buying a home.

New rules to stop people from cutting their offer at an advanced point in a sale, and “time wasting” by bidders with no realistic hope of completing a purchase, will also be examined as part of a review of the rules.

Previous attempts by ministers to improve the process have come to little. However, Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, is now launching an eight-week call for evidence from estate agents, solicitors and mortgage lenders in an attempt to make house buying “cheaper, faster and less stressful”.

The practice of gazumping, which sees a buyer lose out on a property at the last minute after a higher offer is received, is still an issue after years of complaints. One radical option could be moving the point at which an agreed sale becomes legally binding.

Ministers will also consider new “lock-in agreements” designed to increase the trust between buyer and seller. While a million homes are bought and sold in England each year, around a quarter of sales fall through and millions of pounds are wasted.

“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,” Javid said. “Buying a home is one oflife’s largest investments so, if it goes wrong, it can be costly. That’s why we’re determined 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.”
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