It is no surprise that the Sellers’ Pack is be finally being introduced under the Homes Bill, according to the Queen’s speech.
It is this Government’s view that its introduction will speed up the house buying process and eliminate ‘gazumping’. However, we are still a long way from a practical and workable solution, because despite the prolonged period in which we have been waiting for its introduction it is still not clear who would actually arrange the Sellers’ Pack or how the buyer and mortgage lender would verify the accuracy of the information contained within it.
The Sellers’ Pack is not the only option for speeding up the house buying process. It is the Council of Mortgage Lender’s view that the development of e-conveyancing services will do more to speed up the process than the introduction of the Sellers’ Pack, because it will enable conveyancers to conduct searches electronically.
This will make the search process four to five times quicker than the current process, but is only one of the benefits that e-conveyancing will bring. It is a commonly held view among lenders that it is the transparency that e-convey- ancing promises that will add real value. Buyers and sellers throughout the housing chain will be able to see exactly where other transactions are. This will enable pressure to be applied to those creating bottlenecks in the chain and should enable things to move more freely.
However, to see the true benefits of e-conveyancing, it will need to be made compulsory. Unless everyone is using the process, transparency across the housing chain will be lost.
Lenders also have their role to play in speeding up the house buying process. A sizeable number of lenders have already developed online services for use by mortgage intermediaries. These services enable fully credit scored decisions in principle to be obtained in a matter of minutes. Providing the decision in principle is an ‘accept’, buyers can enter into housing transactions immediately, with knowledge that the mortgage lender has provisionally agreed to lend to them.
Lenders also need to continuously look at ways in which they can speed up the process to the point of mortgage offer and provide greater transparency on service levels around this process.
There is a need to speed up the house buying process and the Sellers’ Pack may have some role to play. However, it may ultimately be the lending and conveyancing processes that make a greater contribution to this.
Jane Barnes is public relations officer at Mortgage Express