Should Hunting Exist in Property?
Should hunting exist in property? I say this as if I changed my name to Kwasi Truss and made a hash of the economy, I can simply say I got it wrong and step away from the whole situation that I had created. There doesn’t seem to be any accountability, recourse or investigation into why.
If one then turns our attention to the property sector – myself and most reputable agents have to abide by an ombudsman and various professional institutions, all with their own rules and regulations. Best of all, HMRC also regulates part of the property industry and let’s face it, you don’t want to give their henchmen an opportunity to pop round for a cup of tea!
In my world, if you get something fundamentally wrong, these institutions will relentlessly hunt me down and when they get hold of me, they will most likely make me into high grade sashimi. One then of course has the fallout of a PR disaster, disgruntled clients and lawyers getting excited about a new legal case – none of which I’m delighted to say has ever happened in my 20 year career! There seems to be this huge imbalance, whereby those who set and oversee the rules, can put their hands up and step away at any given point should the tables ever get turned. This undermines the whole process and exposes loopholes.
No more is this the case that when one goes to the Under Offer stage. Agents are persistently trying to push for exchange, as at this point both sides are legally bound in and there is no going back. However with the changes in the market and more so the delays that are taking place in the conveyancing process currently, it means that there are more opportunities for either side to walk away and leave the other side empty handed. The only parties who gains are the solicitors who get paid, but the agents leave with nothing. In these situations, there is a lot to be said for the Scottish system, whereby all parties are bound in from the outset.
Limit your risk
In England it can seem a bit like the wild west in terms of getting people to commit, however there are a few ways to limit your risk to your transaction falling through. The most important I feel is to always meet the owner in person where possible and to physically shake hands. It sounds old hat, but it does work. Property is an emotional transaction and if you have a connection with the other side, problems can be more easily ironed out. Quality solicitors on both sides and the agent are key – if you have a solicitor who won’t engage with anyone but their client or are part of a mass volume company, you are doomed from the outset. I regularly stop transactions if the solicitor on the other side isn’t up to scratch. Another tip is to buy some protection insurance which will pay out in the event of a transaction not going through – a minor expense but worth it.
Above all be clear, open and transparent from the outset and act honourably. I am a firm believer in that if you commit to doing something, you do so. However how many times do people decide to move the goalposts as they feel the grass will be greener? It is rarely greener and causes so many more issues from the fallout. If you do decide to do this, then the team around you will try their best to help, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t go your way and perhaps the hunting pack may come after you one day if they change the rules.
As for the politicians, I’ll leave you to be the judge, jury and executioner.