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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 12:02 GMT
Single survey plan moves forward
Surveyor
Under the current system each potential buyer orders a survey
Plans to introduce a single survey system to the Scottish property market are to go out for consultation.

Ministers are proposing a scheme where sellers would have to commission a survey of their property, rather than buyers paying for multiple surveys.

The Scottish Executive said that despite the failure of pilot schemes, the idea had wide public support.

However, solicitors have expressed strong opposition to the idea, claiming that it would create new problems.

The plan was trialled in parts of Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

However, in the first six months of the pilot, only 73 people used it.

According to ministers, the new system would end the current situation where buyers repeatedly pay out for an expensive series of surveys.

In a few years time, we will wonder why it took us so long to adopt a more common sense approach
Sarah O'Neill
Scottish Consumer Council

They say it will be particularly welcomed by hard-pressed first-time buyers and will be more detailed than the valuation survey currently used by many buyers.

Deputy Communities Minister Des McNulty said the system would make the market fairer for everyone.

"Buying a home is the biggest single purchase most of us make in our lives," he said.

"And yet most of us rely on the mortgage valuation inspection that takes just a short time to complete and tells us very little about the property we hope to buy and make our home.

"We want to ensure that both buyers and sellers have better information about the condition and value of houses before offers are made. The single survey will do this."

The Scottish Consumer Council said the new proposals would be in the consumer's interest.

Sarah O'Neill said: "We are convinced that in a few years time, we will wonder why it took us so long to adopt a more common sense approach."

The SNP are also backing the idea.

However, the Law Society of Scotland said the scheme should not be compulsory.

Murdo Fraser
The deputy Conservative leader opposes the plans

It claimed the system could create new problems and raised concerns over conflict of interest issues and an inability for would-be buyers to consult the surveyor.

Janette Wilson, convenor of its conveyancing committee, added: "Buyers currently rely on reports that are days old and the society believes it is in the public interest for a single survey report to have a limited lifespan."

The ELPG, a group of seven property solicitors in Edinburgh and Lothians, claimed the executive had "mis-sold" the concept to the public and said the system would make the selling process more expensive and slower.

Murdo Fraser, the deputy Conservative leader, said he opposed making the surveys compulsory.

"They are unnecessary, unworkable and could create an unfair burden on house sellers," he said.

"There is no evidence of any demand from the legal profession, estate agents or the general public.

"The pilot scheme was an unmitigated disaster - it only scrutinised 74 cases when the initial aim was to examine 2,000 cases.

"The scheme has been shelved in Westminster - it's a pity the Liberal Democrat/Labour pact hasn't seen sense in Scotland."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
For and against the single survey system



SEE ALSO
Launch for single survey scheme
14 Jul 04 |  Scotland
Warning over single survey plan
26 May 04 |  Scotland
Plan to banish multiple surveys
05 Nov 03 |  Scotland

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