E-Homebuying Forum dies – Towards Faster Certainty

Last Thursday the remaining members of the E-Homebuying Forum (EHF) decided to close the association.  The Forum aimed to put “faster certainty” into one of the most stressful things that you will ever voluntarily put yourself through; the home moving process.
A spokesperson for the EHF said:
“Since 2008 the EHF has served the interests of members on a number of key issues across the homebuying process, acting as a vocal advocate of its members views to Government and key stakeholders, to improve the process for all those involved. The Executive membership recently met to discuss the way forward for the Forum and feel it is now up to individual industry members to bring some of the improvements and ideas to fruition. In light of this, a decision has been taken to mothball the Forum for the foreseeable future.”
The E-Homebuying Forum claims on its website that:-
“The E-Homebuying Forum exists to provide a platform for companies who wish to modernise the home buying process. The Forum works with Government and other industry stakeholders to provide industry-wide strategic vision and direction in pursuit of greater transparency, efficiency and commitment in the home buying process – with the goal of bringing faster certainty to the consumer.”
There can be little doubt that the home buying process is broken and needs to be repaired.   With gazundering, gazumping, and gazanging contributing to the 30 — 40% of transactions that fail, and those that do complete taking months rather than days, typically, to exchange and complete, the whole experience can only be described as off putting.  There is as much a need or maybe an even greater need now for “faster certainty” in the home moving process than when the Forum started.
The last Government decided it would be a good idea to solve this problem and chose Home Information Packs as their flagship policy to resolve the inadequacies of the whole process.  Unfortunately vested professional interests were able to derail the policy’s most controversial elements removing the good intentions of the original Sellers Packs and leaving the implementation of the Home Information Pack policy as a very ineffectual watered down solution to a very real problem.
So the E-Homebuying Forum was created to be a cross industry collaborative forum to iron out the differences between the vested interests of solicitors, surveyors, lenders, domestic energy assessors, search providers, estate agents and all those other industries/professions that contribute to the pain of the present system.
At one time I represented my employer at the Forum and I held high hopes that it could pull together some change from the ashes of HIPS.  Unfortunately this was not to be the case.
Mark Riddick the original Chair managed to create the Forum from nothing and pulled together various lenders, estate agents, conveyancers, and search providers to promote change.  When Mark stood down from the Forum he handed the reins to Tom Parker and Sir Bryan Carsberg and it looked as if the Forum would have a chance to make a positive change.  Unfortunately the recession got in the way and despite some good ideas, white papers and numerous memorandums of understandings with other groups, fewer and fewer organisations had the resources to contribute effectively to the group.
Whilst there is a considerable amount of change occurring in the market often this is from external challenges such as the lending crisis, new regulation or rising insurance costs.   Politicians seem to have no desire to improve the lot of the consumer in the present process. So unless surveyors, lenders, conveyancers, estate agents and removal companies can in some way build a new model together it feels as if we are stuck with the inadequacies of the present model until a private, compelling solution emerges forcing business models to change.  The E-Homebuying Forum ultimately demonstrated that we seem unable to collaboratively build a better system so it will be an external challenge that will force us to evolve.
The 12 Executive Members included My Home Move, One Search Direct, Law Firm Services, Groundsure and many others and the affiliate members included conveyancers like Ashfords, Conveyancing Direct, Ramsdens, and Russell and Russell.
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