Digital home reports will save time for everyone involved in the homebuying process, says a trade association encouraged by what it claims are 'noises' about reform being made in the run-up to the election.
The Conveyancing Association, which claims to represent firms handling 20% of property transactions in England and Wales, said talk about the return of notorious home information packs is 'something of a red herring'. No one in the industry wants to see the packs, scrapped in 2010, resurrected, it stressed.
However, chair Eddie Goldsmith said a 'digital-home report' could save lots of time 'and put stakeholders on the front foot before a property is even marketed'.
Last year the association mooted the use of 'skinny electronic home reports' in its own reform manifesto for reform.
The association is also keen to see binding offers, which would allow home-movers to have certainty that the purchase deal is binding within a week. This would be similar to the reservation agreements already in place for the purchase of property. It would involve an affordable deposit being put down by the purchaser. An insurance policy could potentially be taken out by the seller so the purchaser's expenses are covered if the seller withdraws.
The association believes a binding offer is achievable providing the purchaser has upfront information and can secure a binding decision-in-principle (DIP) on the mortgage.
Other areas the association is working on include an enhanced ID verification and a secure portal for the conveyancing process that would include a 'property log book' for each property.
Goldsmith said: 'We believe it is, without doubt, the right time to completely move away from [a] conveyancing process which is in no way fit for consumers. The technology is clearly there to provide an end-to-end digital conveyancing service and to deliver greater certainty via the provision of upfront information, and the use of binding mortgage and binding offers on property.'
He highlighted the 'fast and efficient' digital conveyancing service in parts of Australia, where a buyer can sign a contract immediately if they like the property.
The association is 'greatly encouraged by the noises being made by various political parties' on necessary changes to the process.
Goldsmith said: 'As we approach the general election, we are urging whichever party (or parties) forms the next government to consult with the industry, so that we might feed our extensive knowledge and understanding of how the process can be improved into delivering in this area.'
National property law conference (11 October 2017, London)
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