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Monday, October 11, 1999 Published at 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK

Business: Your Money

Homebuying shake-up

More than half of all offers do not result in completed sales

Plans to speed up house-buying and to end predatory "gazumping" in England and Wales have been announced by the government.

The BBC's Rory Maclean:"Sellers will be forced to provide more information"
The proposals aim to force sellers to prepare and pay for an information pack on their property before they put it up for sale.

This, says the government, will cut the time it takes to complete a sale and also help protect the buyer from gazumping where sellers pull out of a deal at a late stage after getting a second, better offer. Under the plans, the pack would include some form of structural survey of the property, any local authority searches, and copies of the title deeds. Collecting this sort of information has until now been the job of the buyers.

[ image:  ]
It is also possible that the sellers' pack will have to include a contract of sale, under which the vendor cannot legally pull out once he or she has accepted an offer.

Buyers will be obliged to have a provisional mortgage offer before they bid for a property.

The BBC's Rory Maclean: "Research showed half of those buying a home had had a worse time than expected"
Housing minister Nick Raynsford said that once the seller's information pack and other improvements were in place, home buyers would have at the very start of the process all the necessary information to make an informed offer.

"That means earlier certainty and less anguish for both buyer and seller", said Mr Raynsford.

"It will reduce the time lag between offer acceptance and exchange of contracts, and thus narrow the window during which gazumping and other problems currently occur".

[ image: Critics say the plans would put the financial burden on the vendor]
Critics say the plans would put the financial burden on the vendor
Critics say the costs of preparing the information pack might keep people from selling their homes, or they may want the cost built in to the price of their house.

And it is thought some building societies may still insist on another survey and full valuation paid for by the purchaser.

A pilot scheme to study to some aspects of the seller's information pack is being set up in Bristol. The system could be introduced as early as next year.

Scotland will be largely unaffected by the proposals as it has a different system for buying and selling houses.

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Internet Links

Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (housing)

Council of Mortgage Lenders

National Association of Estate Agents

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

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