I’ve watched with interest the growing Governmental (and industry) focus on improving the home-buying process for consumers, in particular, the introduction of various measures and schemes designed to speed up the time it takes to complete a transaction.
Working in this industry, we’re all acutely aware of the time it can take and also incredibly mindful that the longer the process goes on, the greater chance of it going wrong. Recent statistics from a buying service, Quick Home Move, revealed that in the last quarter of 2019, well over a quarter of all transactions fell through.
Without knowing anything about the sector, it will be clear to all that this is a large number and it no doubt comes with a large degree of loss – income, revenue, time, resource, etc. All would have been spent, only to have to go back to square one.
The reasons behind such fall throughs are also informative. The buyer changed their mind in 34% of cases; the purchaser had difficulty securing finance (17%) and, as mentioned above, the seller pulled out due to slow progress (15%), the chain broke (13%), a problem was identified during the survey (11%) and a higher offer was accepted from a different buyer (10%).
In that sense, it’s difficult to put your finger on one area of the process or one culpable party – issues happen for sellers and buyers and they’ll happen on the watch of various stakeholders, whether it’s the adviser or the lender, the surveyor or the conveyancer.
Therefore, we all have work to do when it comes to bringing down the number of aborted transactions, and one senses we’ll see a lot of Government movement during the year. Reservation agreements and better upfront information are being trialled and there is likely to be further action in terms of, leasehold property, for example.
But, what can we do while we wait for legal changes? There’s no doubting we can all do our bit. From the agent ensuring all the details of the property are available up-front, to the client being completely transparent about their financial situation to the broker, to us as the surveyor/valuer working with our lender clients to ensure we guarantee capacity, deliver a quality service, and help reduce the mortgage application to offer time down to far quicker levels.
We all have the opportunity to move things along, because at every stage of the process there is the risk of delay, and this can add up to a point where slow progress causes the transaction to, at best, stall and, at worst, breakdown altogether.
Technology can obviously be utilised in order to uphold accuracy and cut down the time certain process tasks can take, for example, we utilise desktop valuations for, what we would describe, as standard properties plus there are Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) which can be used to deliver that valuation figure in double-quick time. Lenders seeking that immediacy can certainly benefit here, or they can access our army of both in-house and network surveyors, who are visiting properties but using standardised processes on tablets, for example.
There is an opportunity to secure time ‘wins’ all throughout the system, and while these might only seem incremental, like delays, they can all add up. Plus, with a Government willing to bite the bullet on some big-ticket amendments and changes, 2020 might be the year when a cohesive industry, coupled with the right rules and regulations, works together to keep abortive transactions down to the absolute minimum. We will certainly all benefit from that…not least our clients.