The government seems to be taking steps to streamline the process of buying and selling your home. In particular, they are seeking views on ending the practice known as gazumping: where an offer can be accepted and then disregarded when a higher offer is received.
In many countries this is illegal, once an offer is accepted the sale is binding on both parties.
A press release issued 22 October 2017 says:
As part of a continued drive to make the housing market work better, we want to hear from everyone with an interest in home buying including estate agents, solicitors and mortgage lenders.
We want to ensure that we address issues across the whole sector, from ways to tackle gazumping and reduce time wasting to increase commitment to a sale.
Views will be taken on:
Gazumping – Buyers are concerned about gazumping, with sellers accepting a higher offer from a new buyer, we will look at ways this could be tackled.
Building trust & confidence – Mistrust between parties is one of the biggest issues faced, we want to look at schemes including ‘lock-in agreements’. Although 1 million homes are bought and sold in England each year, around a quarter of sales fall through and hundreds of millions of pounds are wasted, we want to increase confidence in the housing chain
Informing customers – How to provide better guidance for buyers and sellers, by encouraging them to gather more information in advance so homes are ‘sale ready’
Innovation – You can now search for a home online, but the buying process is too slow, costing time and money so we’re looking for innovative digital solutions including making more data available online
If followed through into legislation this will be a popular change to the present unpredictable process where buyers are in a state of anxiety until formal contracts are exchanged.