LONDON-Moves to cut out the practice of ‘Gazumping’ will be included as part of a Homes Bill, announced in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech, which sets out the government’s legislative programme for the coming year. At the moment, in a rising property market, it is not uncommon for vendors to withdraw from a sale after having accepted an offer, only to accept a higher offer from a rival bidder.

But the new law will aim to reduce the time it takes to get from the ‘sale agreed’ stage to exchange of contracts. It is this time–which can sometimes be many weeks–during which gazumping can take place. To do this the government plans to overturn the centuries-old tradition of ‘caveat emptor’–let the buyer beware–with the introduction of Sellers Packs.

The Sellers Pack will place responsibility for commissioning the survey and legal search processes on the seller. Before a property is placed on the market the vendor will have to prepare a pack containing details of legal title and a basic structural survey. At present, the buyer has to make on offer on a property with very little information. It is the subsequent emergence of unexpected information, such as structural defects or legal complexities, that can scupper a sale, sometimes destroying a chain and causing unnecessary cost and expense.

The move has been welcomed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. RICS spokesperson, Louise McConnachie, said: “RICS strongly supports the Homes Bill and Sellers Pack and, as a member of John Prescott’s Homebuying Reform Panel, we are looking forward to working with the Government on getting the detail right, so that the system can be brought in as soon as possible.”The Queen’s Speech also included a promised reform of the planning system–the first for decades–which will speed up the planning process and will switch long term planning from county to regional level.

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