Scottish system is best, say experts

Implementing the Scottish house buying system in England could have a greater remedial effect on gazumping than Home Information Packs, say experts.

Although HIPs are being championed by the government as a way to protect consumers from speculative sellers and cut the incidence of sales falling through, some in the industry believe overhauling the legal system in line with Scottish practices would be more effective.

Unlike house buying under the English system, which is ruled by the caveat emptor or buyer beware principle, in Scotland purchasers are required to instruct their own surveys of properties and can then make either fixed price or sealed bid offers.

If a seller accepts an offer it is the equivalent of an exchange of contracts and the buyer is given a completion date.

Kevin Friend, associate accounts director at Primrose Mortgage Processing, says that although the disadvantage of the Scottish system is that buyers may have to instruct several surveys before they find the right property or before an offer is accepted, the advantage is that it eliminates all possibility of gazumping.

He adds: “If we adopted a similar system in England it would solve the gazumping problem and we would have a much more serious house buying market.”

Jonathan Burridge, managing director of Quantum, says: “Al-though HIPs are a good start in creating a fairer system, significant changes are needed in the English legal process to bring our antiquated and flawed system into line with modern practices.”