New house sale rules are a farce say estate agents

A Government-backed scheme putting the onus for providing surveys, searches and title documents on house sellers rather than buyers was yesterday branded a "farce" by the professional body representing estate agents.

A Government-backed scheme putting the onus for providing surveys, searches and title documents on house sellers rather than buyers was yesterday branded a "farce" by the professional body representing estate agents.

The Sellers Information Pack was designed to speed up the house buying process but was actually slowing things down, posing more problems than it solved, it was claimed.

The scheme is being piloted in Bristol, where 130 home-owners have signed up. But one Bristol solicitor said he would still advise buyers to do their own surveys. Not all building societies have accepted the pack, insisting on carrying property valuations of their own.

Trevor Kent from the National Association of Estate Agents said the scheme would discourage people from putting houses on the market in the long term."The whole idea of a seller's pack is a farce," he said.

Mr kent estimated the cost of a pack, including title documents, copies of planning and building regulations, local authority searches and a professional survey, would be around £700. He said sellers would have to wait two or three weeks before putting their house on the market - the time it takes to produce the pack. "The only people who will be pleased will be solicitors and surveyors, who stand to make around £350 to £400 a time," he said.

Home-owners would question having to pay out substantial sums of money up front with no guarantees of a sale, he said, adding that the Government had difficulty enrolling people on its pilot scheme in Bristol, even though it was free.

The scheme's supporters claim purchases have been made in just four and a half weeks, but Mike Rendell, a conveyancing solicitor with Convey Direct taking part in Bristol, had wider concerns. "I do not like the Government tinkering with the laws of supply and demand," he said. "Making it hard for people to put property on the market is going to lead to a housing shortage and prices are going to go up."

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