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Putting on a united home buying front – Cumber

by: Matthew Cumber, managing director of Countrywide Surveying Services
  • 31/05/2024
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Putting on a united home buying front – Cumber
As an industry, a huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes that often goes unheralded, but is vital in maintaining a well-balanced, innovative and cohesive approach to help meet the needs of the modern consumer.

Firstly, we have the regulator who continues to safeguard their needs while providing lenders with sufficient levels of flexibility to adapt lending criteria and design a range of mortgages.

We have trade bodies such as Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) and Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) who are constantly championing the rights of the intermediary market and campaign on behalf of the lender and adviser communities.

Within the home buying and selling process, there are also a few key players who are making a positive impact. One being the Home Buying and Selling Group (HBSG), who launched a discussion paper to seek feedback from across the homemoving industry, government and consumers to generate greater transparency and help develop a more joined-up approach. 

Another is the Open Property Data Association (OPDA), whose mission is to foster innovation, trust, and industry-wide collaboration and to digitise the homemoving process through the power of data. 


Making an impact 

In fact, Maria Harris, chair of the OPDA, recently called for the entire home buying and selling process to be digitised within three years during a session with the Commons Select Committee, run by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). The committee was probing whether the consumer experience of home buying and selling could be improved and whether improvements are likely via voluntary initiatives or whether legislation may be necessary. 

Within this, Harris revealed that companies using OPDA’s data standard for digital property packs had seen time reduced from an offer being accepted on a house and a mortgage to exchange of contracts in just 15 days, “with zero fall-throughs, zero fraud, a much better customer experience and more certainty around the moving date.” 

It will be fascinating to see how this conversation develops, but it’s clear that collaboration and the more effective use of data really are paramount to the progression of the home buying journey, and it’s important that all individual components within this journey buy into this. 


A collective effort with home buying concerns 

In recent weeks, you may have seen some pieces in the trade press from us around the very low take-up of Level 2 and 3 reports by consumers and how concerned we are that if we want to obtain good customer outcomes, then from a surveying and industry perspective, we are severely falling short.

However, we also appreciate this is a wider industry issue around how mortgages and properties are sold, meaning that it needs a much broader and non-partisan discussion. 

With that in mind, here at Countrywide Surveying Services, we are looking to do our part in steering this conversation by actively engaging with heads of the major surveying groups, plus representatives from the Home Buying and Selling Group, OPDA, IMLA and AMI, and create an open, honest platform for these types of discussion.

After all, when you see further headlines such as one in three homeowners having saved money because they had a house survey, then it’s clear that we, as a collective, need to act in a more coordinated manner to not only speed up this process but to also ensure that homebuyers are fully protected along the way. And a good way to do this is by ensuring they are as well-informed as possible at the earliest stage of the purchase process.

As stated in the commentary by Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, on this data: “Our research shows what a worthwhile investment having a house survey is. We recommend surveys for homebuyers as a great way of avoiding unforeseen and unpleasant surprises when it comes to moving into your new home. Save money by getting a survey so you can identify any issues and get them fixed or renegotiate the price so you aren’t out of pocket and avoid homebuyers’ regret.” 

“We’re keen to get the message across that getting a survey is a no-brainer for buyers looking to protect their hard-earned cash. But not all surveys are the same, so it’s important to understand the different types of surveys on offer, their costs and what they cover.” 

I couldn’t have summed it up better, and it’s vital that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet going forward to ensure that these types of statistics and messaging really hit home.

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