Conveyancers have welcomed the announcement that the Government is doubling funding for the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team.
The industry regulator will now receive some £500,000 a year, but will have significant new duties – in the new-build sector, and policing how estate agents display up-front referral fees.
There is little detail on what NTSEAT’s powers will be in the new-build industry – whether, for example, it would be able to ban developers in the same way it can estate agents.
There is also little detail on the policing of referral fees, since the Government has yet to announce what it intends to do, with a total ban not out of the question.
However, the Conveyancing Association said that NTSEAT should be able to consider a number of key issues.
Director Beth Rudolf said: “Earlier this year we conducted a ‘home buyer experience’ survey and just 2% of the 1,100 respondents felt they had received sufficient information on their property prior to viewing it.
“The Conveyancing Association has long championed the need for far greater upfront provision of information to ensure potential purchasers are much better informed before they make their offers.
“For example, many of the problems that have arisen where developers have sold new houses on leasehold terms may well have been avoided if the purchaser had received full disclosure on what they were actually purchasing.
“Our survey showed a significant lack of compliance with Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs), particularly from housing developers, in terms of the information home buyers should expect as a matter of course before viewing a property.
“It is heartening to hear that this new funding will be put towards looking at the scale of this problem on both new-build houses and to increase enforcement of CPRs on second-hand home sales.
“Compliance with CPRs is absolutely vital as it ensures all information required in the conveyancing process is gathered at the point of marketing which will reduce the current timescales of 14-16 weeks to exchange contracts, plus it will reduce waste and improve certainty.
“We welcome this move from the Government and believe it will significantly level the playing field and improve the overall consumer experience.”