To The Home Buying and Selling Group

26 June 2020 | Re HBSG MoU

The Conveyancing Information Executive and the undersigned are fully supportive of any initiative which improves the home buying process. As the leading property data and search businesses we are all committed to the highest standards of information enabling consumers to have complete confidence in the home buying process.

We are broadly supportive of the principle of property information and searches forming part of a sales pack in the buying and selling process. However, we have serious reservations about the seller pack information forming the basis of reliance for a purchaser.

We comment as follows on the MoU as currently drafted:

  1. The property market operates under the principle of Caveat Emptor and disclosure of information in the sale process assists in the transfer of responsibility for defects and liabilities associated with a property from the seller to buyer. Buyer and seller clearly have different motivations in this process. As drafted the MoU is ambiguous as to which searches should be undertaken by a seller and in turn which follow up searches should be undertaken by a buyer. This will lead to variable implementation across the market, confusion and delay.
  2. It is our experience that, in the provision of search products to sellers’ agents / conveyancers, the approach taken in compiling this information, its presentation, anddisclosure to purchasers, is highly variable. A defined standard and protocol would need to be in place and adhered to throughout the market. The absence of this will likely lead to confusion and delay with buyers’ conveyancers attempting to validate “sellers disclosure searches” in order to determine what additional searches might be required. Online search retail platforms host a wide variety of products with different “alerting” tools based on different source data. In the private sector, and given the commercial nature of the market, there is not a single source of truth as might be considered the case with for example HM Land Registry. Validation of searches using this process will therefore be complex and difficult.
  3. Our view is that the best approach would be for “seller’s disclosure searches” to be distinct and separate from “buyer’s due diligence searches”. Meaning that the buyer’s conveyancer would retain the same obligations as they have today in terms of necessary searches, leaving “sellers disclosure searches” to evolve into a market driven area where better products ultimately support more effective and timely sales. This would protect the rights and choice of consumers in the buying process, leaving a clear line of redress for consumers to the search providers commissioned for the explicit purpose of providing “buyer’s due diligence searches.”

Yours faithfully,

CIE Conveyancing Information Executive
Hants Wight Conveyancing Searches
Index Property Information
IPSA Association of Independent Personal Search Agents.
Landmark Information Group
Mining Searches UK
Pinpoint Information
Searches Group
TM Group
X Press Legal Services
York Place