Will our system of buying and selling houses ever change?

(33 Posts)
BarbequeBetty Mon 01-Aug-16 16:17:50

Why hasn't it?

Is there a way of voicing our opinion about wanting it to change? How do laws get changed?

I read an article about suggesting a mix of both the French and Scottish systems. Along the lines of an offer being binding but there being a 10 day cooling off period.

The way we buy and sell houses is archaic and stressful and allows for both buyers and sellers to behave in an unfair and unreasonable manner to each other (gazumping, gazundering, offers being made and withdrawn leaving others out of pocket for solicitor's fees, surveyors fees etc).

Is there anything that can be done? I don't know a single person who has bought or sold a house in the UK who thinks our system is good.

Any thoughts?

wowfudge Mon 01-Aug-16 17:13:35

My first thought: it'll never happen. The reason the Scottish and French systems are different is because they stem from Roman Law. The English and Welsh legal system is from common law, although there is a lot of land law going back to feudal - and lots of French terminology too.

Unless the housing market was paralysed due to the current system I can't see significant changes bring made.

The systems in Scotland and France are not without issues either.

caroldecker Mon 01-Aug-16 17:52:28

Just had a read of the Scottish system. Does not really seem that different. offers made subject to survey and exchange of missives taking a month or so before the contract is binding - anything can happen in that time.

rubybleu Mon 01-Aug-16 19:31:45

Australia doesn't have chains, and you usually have 48 hours to change your mind before you need to pay a deposit which you will lose if you back out, unless for survey/failure to secure finance. Offer to moving in is usually 4 weeks.

Also a common law system.

pleasemothermay1 Mon 01-Aug-16 19:35:05

I think it's a bloody scandle people are allowed to back out just because

We had this with our first house and we were really close to the ending people knew it was binding or could be liable to pay the other side say 10k they wouldn't put there house on the market willy nilly

To be subject to full survey , discloure and finances the deal should be binding gerzumoing and gurzunding should be banned

kernowgal Mon 01-Aug-16 19:56:24

I think homeowners should provide a full survey from an independent surveyor when they market their houses. I nearly bought a house last year but pulled out because the survey was awful. It went back on the market and went under offer again, only for the next buyers to pull out due to the survey. So we both forked out to find out the same information. That house has been on the market ever since - over a year now - even though the vendor has dropped the price by a good margin.

I also think gazumping and gazundering should be made illegal. If your offer is accepted it should be binding, unless the survey reveals something awful or the house turns out to be not as stated, ie leasehold instead of freehold or whatever.

caroldecker Mon 01-Aug-16 20:14:22

But the trouble is in the detail. What counts as 'awful' or not as stated? One thread on here had a problem with drain siting because they wanted to build an extension, another buyer would not have cared.
Most people aren't lawyers, so need some advice/checks prior to purchase - the Scottish system allows this before legally binding.
Survey sharing has very difficult issues around liability - you cannot sue the vendors surveyor, so even in Scotland, where the vendor does do a survey, many buyers/banks insist on their own. Also what sort of survey is required from the vendor?

YelloDraw Mon 01-Aug-16 21:27:03

It's an imperfect system but it would be a lot better if people didn't behave badly.

Some of my parents friends got all the way through a long sale process, with the buyer delaying and delaying exchange. Then they pulled out because they had been going through the legal process on a house up the road as well! Absolute twats.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Mon 01-Aug-16 21:34:56

Possibly some sort of financial compensation if seller or buyer pulls out after a pre determined time? It can be hugely expensive if you have to sell to several buyers, or buy from several sellers.

BarbequeBetty Mon 01-Aug-16 22:50:59

I think your offer being subject to survey is fine.
I don't think other people being out of pocket is ok because you've just 'changed your mind' or a situation like the one Yello draw described where you are being inherently dishonest. I also do not think (and Australian system attests to this) that it really needs to take months and months to go through the legal process. There should be a set amount of time and penalties for not sticking to it - for solicitors who won't pull their fingers out or buyers/sellers who don't get on with paperwork etc.

I think the the bit that really needs adjusting is buyers being able to jump in and out of sales without any consequence.
In a situation where a buyer pulls out right before sale, the vendor could be out of pocket for £1500 legal fees + £1200 building survey fees (in depth survey, not just home buyer's one) - just at the whim of the buyer who can change their mind for utterly fickle reasons.

It's way overdue an overhaul IMO.

cheminotte Mon 01-Aug-16 23:05:09

Our sale has just fallen through due to the survey on our buyer's property. But they didn't even do the survey until at least 2 months after the sale was agreed! Surely the survey could be a standard document, paid for by the vendor, like the environmental thingamajig so if you don't like it, you don't make an offer.

caroldecker Tue 02-Aug-16 01:05:46

cheminotte from my earlier post
Survey sharing has very difficult issues around liability - you cannot sue the vendors surveyor, so even in Scotland, where the vendor does do a survey, many buyers/banks insist on their own. Also what sort of survey is required from the vendor?
Subject to survey gives them any get out clause you like - no survey says everything is perfect, so they choose a minor issue to pull out.

engineersthumb Tue 02-Aug-16 05:47:52

I think that part of the problem is our rediculous concept of the housing ladder. Homes are for living in not for wealth accumulation and all this hoirse trading just inflates the cost of housing. Very few other countries have this concept of buy and sell to attain more. This encourages the bad behavior that people complain about but also with do many moves going on chains are going to form. I also don't think that binding people into contracts early is a wise course ss this is one of tge largest purchases that you will ever make. When we bought we initially had an offer accepted on one house which was ok but had its issues but then another house became available. The second house was much more child friendly but needed lots of work. We pulled out of the first house and offered on the second whilst this was a "buyers whim" it was the right decision for us and meant that we bought once rather than buying/selling multiple times.

BarbequeBetty Tue 02-Aug-16 05:52:25

Perhaps though, engineer, you would have waited for the right house rather than offering on one your weren't sure about if you had known there would be a financial penalty for your continuing to shop around for something better after you had put the offer in and then pulling out on the sale you originally agreed when you found it...

Spickle Tue 02-Aug-16 07:06:52

How can you put a limit on how long the legal process takes when you don't know at the outset whether there are discrepancies with the title, breaches of covenant, ID discrepancies etc? I agree that it would be better if the process were shorter, and perhaps one way would be if the EA did pre-legal checks in advance of the legal process starting, for example doing the due diligence with ID, or getting the deeds from Land Registry to ensure that the person selling is the person named on the deed (unless executors). Another way, would be perhaps not allowing the legal process to start until Grant of Probate has been received. Also with leasehold properties, for the leasehold management pack to be provided by the seller as soon as a sale has been agreed. Perhaps the EA could also ensure the seller completes the Fixtures and Fittings form, Property Info Form but only dates the forms when a sale is agreed so these can be forwarded to the buyer's solicitor at the earliest, it would all help the process be quicker.

engineersthumb Tue 02-Aug-16 07:28:53

Betty,
Perhaps, but I don't belive that such a system would be an improvement.

MissMargie Tue 02-Aug-16 07:36:42

I'm sure I saw an advert on tv the other day, for a company who will sell your house for 450 pounds, I assume so you can sidestep estate agents.
It should be much easier to sell one yourself using the internet. We sold one on Zoopla (we were overseas). The buyers had a link set up to receive an email whenever a property came up in the area they were interested, in a price band they were looking for, they contacted us immediately it went on the market. Loved it on viewing, and bought it. Legal stuff took about a fortnight.

Imperialleather2 Tue 02-Aug-16 07:39:05

They did try and overhaul the system a few years ago with Home Information Packs. Lots of people trained as surveyors as,the plan was to.include a home condition report with the pack. This element was dropped so the pack included title and searches.

Problem is searches go out of date and most lenders won't accept personal searches which is what estate agent's were often putting. In the packs so they had to be redone anyway.

Aa for letting estate agents do I.d checks no decent solicitor would rely on this especially when a,lender is involved.

BarbequeBetty Tue 02-Aug-16 07:39:43

Yy agree Spickle, there would have to be elements dealt with pre-offer. Having read a bit about the Scottish system there are some things there we could do with adopting. Before you put in an offer you have to have your mortgage offer and have instructed a solicitor. This makes the situation that you have had to put time, effort and money into the process before even starting. The seller must have had a survey on the property and you can choose to have a further one done beforehand (you can make an offer subject to survey though, not sure what conditions would apply to that). All this BEFORE you make an offer. It would really stop the messing around people do, putting offers in, then withdrawing, putting offers in on multiple properties.

In our system I could ring up an EA today, ask to view a property, put an offer in the same day with no checks (other than a few verbal questions), no commitment, nothing. Just for fun if I was a sadist in the mood.

BarbequeBetty Tue 02-Aug-16 07:47:44

I wonder if there should be more onus on the seller to keep survey/searches up to date/even if by employing a solicitor to do it?
That way, tighter regulations on buyers could be imposed without ALL the cost being on them.

Engineer - you must agree the ability for buyers to flip flop out of a commitment to buy with no cost to them and leaving a seller out of pocket (for example if they had instructed their solicitor on the basis of the sale proceeding or paid for a survey on the property they want to buy) is not acceptable though. Or you do think it is fine? You would be happy with this happening to you?

Spickle Tue 02-Aug-16 09:22:47

I accept that solicitors would want to do their own id checks, especially as they represent the lender too.

Perhaps if sellers were to be made aware that they need to provide documentation, i.e. certificates for work done/planning permissions etc rather than saying they don't have it (if they don't have it - get duplicates or pay for an indemnity policy!) and stop wasting time saying they don't see the need etc. Indemnity policies are requested by the lender, not the solicitor. Also, when answering the PIF, don't put "I don't know" as the answer for everything. These matters will only be brought up further down the line by the buyer's solicitor who will want proper answers. The other time waster is buyers constantly renegotiating the price. Price changes mean a new contract and transfer would have to be typed up and posted out, the lender would need to be advised which could mean a new mortgage offer or a change of lending conditions. Might not be much of a delay but people get arsey over any little delay nowadays.

GETTINGLIKEMYMOTHER Tue 02-Aug-16 10:42:44

Personally I wouldn't (necessarily) trust a survey provided by the vendor. How would you know s/he hadn't got a friend/relative to provide one that conveniently forgot to mention any issues? God knows there are dodgy mortgage brokers, dodgy EAs, dodgy solicitors, so I don't suppose it'd be too hard to find a dodgy surveyor if you wanted to.

I loathe gazumping and gazundering. Last time I sold not long ago I took the property off the market once I'd accepted an offer, to show good faith. My buyer still tried to gazunder the day before exchange. I called her bluff, but it was a big gamble.

OTOH when we were buying years ago, we really loved a particular house, but were just too late in putting in an offer. The vendor had just accepted a similar offer from someone he didn't take to at all. He told us he would have much preferred for us to have it, but because he had given his word he didn't feel able to go back on it.
There is far less of that sort of attitude now. Though I'm not saying it's disappeared completely, than goodness.

caroldecker Tue 02-Aug-16 12:00:44

But the point is, signing the contract earlier only means all searches, surveys etc are done and paid for earlier and someone can still pull out after the expense before signing the contract. Vendors can get everything in line anyway if they choose to.
There is nothing to stop either party putting an offer that says, if not exchanged within, say 4 weeks, then offer rescinded.

DiggersRest Tue 02-Aug-16 14:05:40

Ruby, 4 weeks from offer to moving in, in my experience, is very unusual. It's usually 90 days settlement and very occasionally 60 days.

engineersthumb Tue 02-Aug-16 22:05:16

I don't think its fair to say that buyers "flip flop". Buying a house is a big decision and when a buyer pulls out its for very valid reasons to them. Vendors and in particular EAs also behave in ways that frustrate buyers.
The revolution that we need is to change the way we think about housing and the over inflation that it results in. Increasing house prices do not build economic success within a country, indeed it results in the sort of horse trading and bad behaviour that is the subject of this thread. I don't know how we change the current situation but tying people up in contracts or issuing penalties doesn't seem to benefit anyone but the solicitors.

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