Diaries to record agony and ecstasy of home-buying

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The agonies and ecstasies of buying a home will be analysed with clinical precision in a government study of 1,100 households. Buyers and sellers will be asked to fill in a daily diary to monitor their progress - or lack of it.

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions has commissioned a research company, PS Martin Hamblin, to examine a large, representative sample of sales in England, Scotland and Wales in depth.

The investigation is to begin now and be completed by June next year. The diaries will record day by day who does what, how long it takes and why delays happen.

At the same time the views of the estate agents, mortgage lenders and solicitors involved will be sought. The Government said it needed the investigation in order to iron out frustrations and bad practices. The Lord Chancellor's Department is already looking at the legal options for outlawing the practice of gazumping, and he will take the study's conclusions into account.