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Sellers Packs - Too Much Information!

July 2004

The government proposes a system for conveyancing where every seller must (on pain of something awful) spend a substantial amount of money before they can put their house up for sale. This is intended to save the occasional purchaser who loses out having also spent money before having his purchased denied to him by the seller.

The seller will have to prepare an information pack. It contains all the information a buyer will need when he moves in. Any person interested in the property can obtain a copy from the agent before making an offer. A seller failing to dot every 'i' may find himself being prosecuted and fined.

Ooops, . . . as they say.

When a buyer moves in, he will need to know, for example, the secruity code for the burglar alarm. A seller may have to disclose this, not just as a buyer hands over his brass, but possibly to every potential burglar using the local agent to line up a few easy targets. It is a bit like getting the answers to the Times crossword puzzle sent by email before you go out in the morning to get the paper. Of course, such obviously and acutely sensitive information must be excluded, but the principle will still remain. A nosy or vengeful neighbour can get just as much leverage for his own particular interests from information which is still essentially private, but which the seller will be obliged to display to the world (and worse, to pay for the privilege).

For a rather more balanced (if still critical) article see

http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/view=newsarticle.law?NEWSID=175031

The poposal as it stands is silly. The pilot (in Bristol) said that it did not work, and the changes have not improved it sufficiently. Although it offers solicitors as a profession the opportunity to redraw the balance of power with estate agents, we have on the whole , indeed, as a whole, rejected it.

That is not to say that some progress cannot be made. Indeed it already has. A seller who talks to his solicitor before putting the house on the market will usually now find by the time a buyer has been approved, his solicitor has indeed already put together nearly all that is required.

What is absent will be the local search. Since 1994, sellers have been asked (under the protocol) to spend money on a local search as they put the house on the market. It will cost them something over a hundred pounds. In ten years, I have never either had a client agree to doing this, or even had a private seller to a client of mine do this. To be honest I gave up asking a long time ago..

Sellers (not solicitors) do not want this. That is why the government wants to play smack-your-pandy (yet again) if as a seller you do not commit yourself to spending the money in advance.

May 2006

The system is now due to come into effect in June 2007. Nobody quite believes either that it will achieve anything good or that it will speed anything up, nor, indeed that it will in fact work. We shal have to see. ,p>What has become clear is that the true reason for this is to save the government money by taxing all sellers of land. Under some European Directive, the government has to have in place a system for assessing the environmental friendliness of each house. By making the seller do this when he sells (as part of the HIP), it doesn't have to pay for it itself.

That is the ling and short of it. Forget all this nonsense about consumerism - it is and always has been hogwash.

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