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  1. ITV Report

Government targets gazumping to make house-buying 'less stressful'

Some 69% of sellers and 62% of buyers experience stress as a result of delays in the process. Photo: PA

The government could ban gazumping as part of a overhaul to make the buying and selling of homes "cheaper, faster and less stressful."

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid also wants to apply technology to the process, which is currently "too slow," and has called for evidence from estate agents, solicitors and mortgage lenders.

As well as gazumping — when a seller accepts a higher offer from a new buyer — the government is also looking at schemes such as “lock-in agreements” to reduce the 250,000 sales that fall through annually.

"We want to help everyone have a good quality home they can afford, and improving the process of buying and selling is part of delivering that,” Javid said.

"Buying a home is one of life's largest investments, so if it goes wrong it can be costly. That's why we're determined to take action to make the process cheaper, faster and less stressful.

"This can help save people money and time so they can focus on what matters — finding their dream home. I want to hear from the industry on what more we can do to tackle this issue."

Javid: "Buying a home is one of life's largest investments, so if it goes wrong it can be costly. Credit: PA

According to fresh survey date from the Department for Communities and Local Government, 69% of sellers and 62% of buyers experience stress as a result of delays in the process.

Some 46% of sellers are worried about buyers changing their minds after making an offer, 24% said they would use a different estate agent in the future, and 32% of sellers and 28% of buyers said they were unhappy with the other party's solicitor.

However, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey called the proposals "feeble."

"This smacks of a political diversion from the hard facts of the Tories' housing record," he said.

"Home ownership is at a 30-year low and the number of younger homeowners is in freefall, but ministers can only come up with a 'call for evidence' on improving the home-buying process.

"Compare the Tories' feeble gesture to Labour's plans - 100,000 discounted homes for first-time buyers, a cut in stamp duty, first dibs on new homes for local people and new protections for home-owners.

"This is a government out of touch and out of ideas. Conservatives know housing was a big part of why they did so badly at the election, but after seven years of failure, ministers still have no plan to fix the housing crisis."