Time to dump Home Reports

“An Englishman’s home is his castle” – or so it is said.  Sadly, these castles have been a little more difficult and expensive to sell these last few years because of the late Labour Government’s imposition of the compulsory Home Information Pack into the house sales process. Fortunately, commonsense has broken out in England and one of the first acts of the new Tory Liberal coalition is to dump the hated packs.- to the great relief of property professionals, buyers and sellers alike.  Of course this decision applies only in England in Wales and we Scots have to suffer on with our Home Reports. In Scotland Home Reports were inflicted upon the unsuspecting public with a zeal which overtook logic, reason and evidence.  Politicians chose to ignore sensible advice from about 95% of all property professionals who argued firmly against Home Reports.  Excepted from this group of course were surveyors who realised they stood to make a killing from these reports and that is what they have been doing these last 18 months or so. However, most of the rest of us, particularly house buyers and house sellers in Scotland have been suffering because of this ill thought out legislation.  The cost of selling has gone up, Home Reports are hated by most sellers because of their cost, distrusted by most buyers because the sellers produce them,  and are frequently also not accepted by many lenders.  The legislation has caused multiple surveys to return when that problem had long been solved by the unanimous adoption of the practice of offering “subject to survey”.  Worst of all in this difficult sales market some houses simply do not sell quickly and sellers decide to stay put.  The Home Reports in these cases have simply been a total waste of money and may even have never been read by anybody.  Concluding contracts has become slow and uncertain and the valuations in the reports themselves are often wildly out of date by the time a contract is concluded. In short our house selling system is more expensive and less certain than it ever was in the old system.  Then the buyer instructed one survey from a surveyor approved by his or her lender at the time a deal was about to be done.  The old Scottish system was quick easy and relatively cheap – and well understood by all – in fact simply better all round for buyers, sellers and lenders.  But this system has been wrecked by Home Reports. Is it too much too hope for that commonsense will break out in Scotland too?  Are any politicians or consumer groups honest enough to admit they got this one wrong?  Might some brave politicians unite in the spirit of the “new politics” and consign this damaging legislation to the bin? David Borrowman Managing Parter, Caesar and Howie