There are no plans to reform the house buying process in England and Wales according to Housing Minister Mark Prisk –a former chartered surveyor – who dismissed any idea that he considered the Scottish system superior.  

Under the Scottish system, a legally binding conditional contract is entered into as soon as terms have been accepted, from which neither side can withdraw without legal consequences. While this may have its advantages, housing markets are generally much more active in England and Wales, where chains are more common and can be long.

Consequently, buyers and sellers using the Scottish system in England and Wales could find themselves bound to a contract before selling their existing home and buying a new one, with expensive implications such as bridging finance and the need to find temporary accommodation.

Sellers in England and Wales are free to choose from a range of options that can be used by those seeking more commitment and certainty that their transaction will be completed. These include ‘lock-out’ agreements, ‘option to purchase’, ‘conditional contracts’ or ‘costs guarantee’. There is nothing to stop buyers and sellers agreeing to any of these arrangements on a voluntary basis. Government has already cut the cost of moving home by abolishing Home Information Packs.

The red tape involved increased the cost of selling a home, deterring sellers from putting their homes on the market and the packs were not trusted by buyers, therefore duplicating costs.