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Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Saturday, 29 November 2008

Shake up for Scottish home sales

By Bob Howard
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

Ian Ferguson is from the Scottish Law Agents Society
Ian Ferguson thinks introducing Home Packs now is bad judgement

Anyone selling a residential property in Scotland will have to give potential buyers a Home Report from 1 December.

It includes a survey, valuation, energy assessment and a questionnaire to be compiled by the seller.

But some property experts have criticised introducing such a major change given the depressed state of the housing market.

The change has the support of the Scottish Government and the watchdog Consumer Focus Scotland.

House value

David was one of the first to commission a Home Report for his three bedroom home in Cambuslang on the outskirts of Glasgow, which he has just put on the market.

You either want the property or you don't
David from Cambuslang
It cost him 705.

He thinks it will help him sell, so he is pleased with it:

"There's the price, the surveyor has indicated on the home report that's the value of the property, you either want the property or you don't want the property."

David feels the change could be beneficial because the process of buying and selling homes has traditionally been different in Scotland compared to England and Wales.

Instead of listing an "asking price", sellers often ask buyers to make "offers over" a minimum price.

To do this, purchasers pay for a valuation before making their offer, so they know what to bid.

In a booming market, that can result in buyers having to pay for many valuations without buying a property.

But the Scottish housing market is suffering the same problems as the rest of the UK.

Pros and cons

Ian Ferguson is from the Scottish Law Agents Society which has campaigned against the introduction of Home Reports.

He says they should have been delayed for at least two years:

"In the middle of a recession, this makes no sense at all.

It's breathtakingly bad judgement."

That was costing a lot of money
Sarah O'Neil, Consumer Focus Scotland
But supporters of the change say a radical shake up of the buying and selling process is urgently needed.

Sarah O'Neil is from the watchdog Consumer Focus Scotland which was involved in designing home reports.

She says they should stop buyers having to pay for multiple surveys and offer many benefits not available in the Home Information Pack offered to purchasers in England and Wales:

"In some cases people were having to pay for three or four or five surveys over different properties before they were successful.

"That was costing a lot of money."

Unwilling lenders

The issue has been complicated further because at least one lender has announced it is not willing to accept the valuation contained in the Home Report.

Woolwich says the speed with which property prices are currently dropping means buyers will, after all, have to pay for their own valuation to get a mortgage.

Royal Bank of Scotland says it will accept them if the surveyor is on their panel.

HBOS says it will if the surveyor is on their panel and the valuation is not more than three months old.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday,
29 November 2008 at 1204 GMT.

Money Box



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