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Making life easier for house buyers

It’s a commonly known fact that moving house is one of the most stressful events that most people experience in their lives. There are so many things to remember to complete, and all the small elements soon become one big headache for many long suffering house buyers. It seems incredible that an industry, which has been firmly established for centuries, is still yet to make the process any easier on its customers.

All the pieces are there, but no one has set to link them all together, to make house-buying a smooth and hassle-free process. The aim of this research is to establish the needs and demands of consumers, and to discover the best possible way to reach them. The current system of house buying is long-winded and complicated, and causes large amounts of stress to most people who endeavour to buy or sell a house.

Firstly, there’s the mortgage agreement to choose, from the financial institution of choice; choosing a house to buy, and then making an offer on it; hiring a solicitor to handle all the paperwork; dealing with the estate agent and paying the deposit; then valuation surveys, homebuyer surveys and building surveys needs to be conducted; a list of fixtures and fittings needs to be obtained; a land registry search, to determine any building restrictions placed upon the property, and finally, the contracts need to be signed, money needs to be transferred, and lastly the keys to the new home can be collected from the estate agent.

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In order to make the whole process less stressful, it is proposed that a business be set up for the purpose of advising buyers on what to expect, what their options are as far as choosing solicitors, and representatives, and general advice as they go through the process.

Obviously, there can be no replacement for financial advisors, estate agents and solicitors, as these bodies are all required by law to participate in the sale of property, however all the smaller elements, like removals and notifying providers to the current house, which generally cause the majority of problems and hassle to customers, can be arranged through this new company. There will also be an element of aftercare for the customers, which could offer house insurance quotes, DIY, repairs and maintenance services.

For consumers moving long distance, it could be possible for consumers to provide the company with a specification for a house (e. g. 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, close to public schools and public transport, located in Kent). Representatives for the company could become responsible for finding a house to fit the criteria, and take digital photos of the property, to create a virtual tour without the expense of travelling and searching themselves. 2. 0 Research Question and Objectives Consumers with demanding lifestyles may require some additional help when it comes to moving home.

Although there are restrictions to advising consumers, there are ways in which a company like this can help. Some of these restrictions include the legal aspects, for which a solicitor is required, and as far as choosing a mortgage goes, it is impossible to advise anyone without being a registered independent financial advisor. The aim of this research is to discover the potential pitfalls for consumers, and how to help them overcome the stress and hassle of moving home. By finding out what causes the stress for consumers, it will be easier to develop a business, which offers services that will aim to make the process less stressful.

3. 0 Literature Review The literature review will form the foundation on which the research will be built (Saunders et al, 2003). The author felt it to be most appropriate to conduct the majority of research using the Internet, as this is the intended medium for the proposed business. By using general and meta search engines, it has been possible to find other websites, which are operating under similar principles, i. e. to make house buying simpler and easier for consumers. It has also been possible to discover the changes being implemented by the UK Government, to make the process easier and less stressful.

One website which was found to be of considerable interest is http://www. helpiammoving. com. This website is an independent on-line directory of removals, storage and moving companies. It also provides a comprehensive checklist for consumers, containing all the minor details, which usually cause the biggest problems. In comparison to the proposed business, it provides no assistance beyond that of periphery services, although does hold a database of recommended removal and storage companies for nationwide use. Another website of interest is http://www. halfapercent. com.

This website is run by estate agents, with many years of ‘high street estate agency’ experience. Their philosophy is to take the latest technology and combine it with the best people to offer a superior full estate agency service. By utilising the Internet to its potential, costs are significantly lowered, and these savings can be passed back to the consumer. The commission charges are based on sales or lease agreements, and range from 0. 5% to 5% of the total cost of sale. In relation to the research topic, this website doesn’t provide any advice or guidance for consumers, and it’s property database only covers the London area.

If this service were to be expanded nationally, the impact on high street estate agents would be vast, and it could prompt the lowering of extreme charges, which consumers currently face when using a high street agent. The Homes Bill 2001 is a policy, which has been devised by the Government to simplify the procedure of buying and selling houses within Britain. Legislation to reform the home buying and selling process was introduced in the House of Commons on 12 December 2000. The Homes Bill proposed two reforms – one to improve the efficiency of the home buying and selling process and the other to help homeless people.

It was one of a number of items of legislation unable to complete its passage through Parliament, before Parliament was dissolved for the General Election. The necessary legislation will be reintroduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows. In the meantime, the Government are pressing ahead, in consultation with consumer representatives and the professional bodies, with developing the detailed contents of the ‘seller’s pack’ to prepare the ground for smooth implementation across England and Wales.

As part of the commitment to improve the home buying and selling process, a bill to modernise the land registration system was introduced into the House of Lords on 21 June 2001. This will provide greater security of title and open the way for electronic conveyancing. The current system is extremely inefficient and wasteful and does not look after the best interest of buyers or sellers. Delays in the present system can encourage gazumping (where an offer is accepted and then rejected by the seller in favour of a higher bid by another buyer) and other problems.

By providing information up front it will make the process faster, more transparent and consumer friendly. This means less risk of transactions collapsing, less wasted expenditure and earlier certainty for everyone. The Bill would have required sellers, or their agents, of residential properties in England and Wales to put together a seller’s pack. This would include standard documents and information for prospective buyers. Sellers would have to do this before they put their property on the market.

The seller’s pack stipulates that seller’s must produce – evidence of title; replies to standard preliminary enquiries made on behalf of buyers; copies of any planning, listed building and building regulations consents and approvals; for new properties, copies of warranties and guarantees; any guarantees for work carried out on the property; a draft contract; replies to searches made of the local council; and a home condition report based on a professional survey of the property, including an energy efficiency assessment.

As well as this, the Government have also proposed to improve the system further by – making better use of current and future technology; insisting on better preparation by buyer’s (e. g.obtaining ‘in principle’ mortgage offers before making an offer on a property); action by lenders to provide title deeds quickly and to examine the scope for developing ‘chain-breaking’ loans (which enable people to buy a new home before they have sold their existing one) which would be suitable to a wider range of people than current bridging loans, and action by insurers to develop further and market more widely insurance to protect buyers and sellers from gazumping and other problems.

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