U.K. News
Fast track for home sales
By Patrick Barkham and Melissa Kite  
Nov 16, 2003

THE GOVERNMENT is to ignore advice from MPs and property experts by pressing ahead with plans to force homeowners to pay up to £1,000 to provide buyers with information on their property.

The proposal to make sellers prepare an information pack before they market their home will be included in the Queen’s Speech on November 26.

A seller will have to provide prospective buyers with a surveyor’s report, a draft contract, the title deeds, Land Registry information and any warranties for work on the property. The Government estimates the cost at £600. Industry experts put it at £750 to £1,000.

Critics say packs will increase red tape and costs, rather than speeding sales, as the Government hopes. The Select Committee for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister recently called for more trials.

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said that the Government hoped the packs would reduce gazumping by halving the average time it took to buy a house from ten weeks to five. Nearly a third of transactions collapse after terms have been agreed.

According to the Government, the extra cost would be balanced by the fact that most sellers are also buyers, who would save money by not having to employ a surveyor. But the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said that the packs would be an extra expense, as only one in five buyers now orders a full report.

It said that it would be a “tall order” for the Government to introduce the packs before 2006, because it would require training thousands of extra surveyors.

Mr Chambers added: “Another major problem would be enforcement. The only people who could enforce breaches would be trading standards officers, and they are already overworked.” Sellers who failed to provide a pack would face stiff fines.

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