The end of gazumping? Government plans a house-buying shake-up to make it less stressful

 
Lynsey Barber
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Buying a home isn't always an easy process (Source: Greg Sigston / City AM)

House-buyers are being promised new assurances that could speed up the process of purchasing a home and end gazumping.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has launched a new review seeking feedback from across the industry on a shake-up to the home-buying process. It could include "lock-up agreements" preventing sellers from ditching an offer for a higher one. Around a quarter of sales fall through every year.

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"Buying a home is one of life's largest investments, so if it goes wrong it can be costly. That's why we're determined to take action," said Javid.

"We want to help everyone have a good quality home they can afford, and improving the process of buying and selling is part of delivering that. I want to hear from the industry on what more we can do to tackle this issue."

Other parts of the buying process will come under the review, with the goal of making the whole process smoother and less stressful.

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But the plans were slammed by Labour. Shadow housing minister John Healey said they were a "political diversion" from the Conservative's record on housing.

"Home ownership is at a 30-year low and the number of younger homeowners is in freefall, but ministers can only come up with a 'call for evidence' on improving the home-buying process."

But Javid has also hinted that there may be more cash for house builiding in the upcoming Budget. Spealing on the BBC's Andrew Marr show on Sunday morning, he said the government should borrow more to invest in building new homes.

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"I'm sure at the Budget, we'll be covering housing but what I want to do is make sure that we're using everything we have available to deal with this housing crisis," he said.

"And where that means, so for example, that we can sensibly - you borrow more to invest in the infrastructure that leads to more housing - take advantage of some of the record low interest rates that we have, I think we should absolutely be considering that."

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