Homing In On Buying A House

in Consumer Skills

Buying a home - dream or nightmare?

2 out of 3 people who bought a house recently say the process needs to be improved, according to a major new survey by the General Consumer Council. The Council’s report, Homing In On Buying A House, published today (11 February) offers a wide range of ideas for reform. “Our survey reveals serious problems,“ said Joan Whiteside, Chairman of the General Consumer Council. “With 18,000 people a year buying their home, the system needs reform.” · 26% of those who bought a brand new house were dissatisfied with their builder. The report includes proposals to encourage builders to improve information about costs and completion dates and to strengthen their after sales service. · Many buyers of existing houses were poorly informed about the condition of the property they bought, with 27% discovering unexpected defects after moving in. The pros and cons of requiring sellers to pay for a professional survey before putting their house up for sale are debated in the report. 2 HOMING IN ON BUYING A HOUSE · Many buyers said their deal either collapsed or was delayed - even after the seller had accepted their offer for the property. Ways of safely speeding up the process are examined. · Although buyers and sellers were concerned about the various costs involved in buying a house, few shopped around for mortgage deals or professional help. The Council strongly recommends getting details about the service on offer and a number of quotes before choosing a professional adviser. The Council is consulting solicitors, estate agents, builders and others involved to find practical ways of making the process of buying a house easier, less stressful and cheaper. It will recommend specific changes once views have been received and analysed. Mrs Whiteside stressed: “We need a wide-ranging debate about the best way forward. Consultations are already underway in England and Wales and we need to decide how to make house buying and selling more consumer friendly in Northern Ireland.” The 70 page report is available from the Council free of charge. The investigation was carried out with support from the DOE and the Housing Executive. Note to Editors Almost 1,500 first time buyers and buyers who were also selling their current home completed the survey questionnaire. This coverage amounts to 8% of all house sales in 1997. Seven out of every 10 people now own their own home. For further information please contact Lillian Buchanan (01232) 672488.

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