Why is it so stressful to buy or sell a house?

PUBLISHED: 10:54 18 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:37 18 December 2017

We need a less stressful house buying and selling system, says Andrew Pointen, of Pointens

We need a less stressful house buying and selling system, says Andrew Pointen, of Pointens


Why do we put up with such an archaic house buying and selling system, asks Andrew Pointen, of Pointens.

Andrew Pointen Andrew Pointen

As an estate agent there isn’t a week that goes by when I’m not reminded of what a stressful undertaking it is to sell or buy a property in this country.

Just the thought of packing up everything you own and moving to a new property is a sobering thought, however added to all the stress is the incredibly archaic method of buying or selling property we have in this country.

As most people know the British system is based on ‘buyer beware,’ a terms that roughly translates as a warning that notifies a buyer that the goods he or she is buying are “as is” or subject to all defects.

In my opinion this makes for a very convoluted system we have when buying property. At the moment when a person wishes to sell a property the vendor will usually approach an estate agent to market the property. The estate agent will measure up and take photos etc and will offer the property to prospective purchasers.Once a purchaser has been found they will then be expected to find fault with the property by commissioning a chartered surveyor to carry out a property survey to find out if the property is sound and in good order and in turn he or she will employ a solicitor or conveyancer to determine whether the legal paperwork supplied by the seller’s solicitor is correct and in order.

If a mortgage is required, the buyer’s mortgage company or bank will send out another chartered surveyor to carry out a financial survey for their use. He average time for a property transaction to take place is usually six-eight weeks.

This is a very stressful time for the buyer and seller because at any time either party is able to withdraw from the transaction. If this happen at a later stage of the transaction either party can be left with thousands of pounds of loss through, survey costs, solicitor’s fees and valuation fees etc. etc. There must be a better way of buying and selling property.

In 2007 the Labour government tried to reform buying and selling property with the introduction of Home information packs. I am sure they started with good intensions, however in reality we ended up with a very watered down version of what was originally proposed. So much so that in 2010 the newly elected coalition government suspended and then abolished them.

Consequently we are back to square one.

Surely it needs to be looked at again. It would be much better if all the information is provided up front when a property is placed on the market.

The seller’s solicitor should have to provide a pack with all the necessary documentation to the property before the property is marketed.

This should contain a register title, so buyers know what they are actually buying and also local authority searches relating to the property.

A full structural survey should be provided for the use of all prospective buyers and then assigned to the eventual buyer. This should also be used by a lending institution to secure any finance on the property.

To make the whole process more transparent from the outset would help everybody. Buyers would be entering into the transaction with their eyes wide open right at the outset rather than half closed as with present system.

You can contact Andrew Pointen at Pointens, sponsors of this column on 
01263 711880 or visit www.pointens.co.uk

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Caroline Culot


I am the property editor in charge of delivering some exciting and informative content within Archant’s varied titles. We have 16-17 pages of stories, features and columns in the EDP Property supplement out every Friday free in your EDP so please don’t miss it.