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PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: New Homes Ombudsman | State of the Property Market

New Homes Ombudsman partner announced 

The New Homes Quality Board has announced that The Dispute Service has been selected to be the New Homes Ombudsman. The Dispute Service was chosen following a fiercely competitive tendering process. 

The New Homes Ombudsman will be independent and provide redress for purchasers of new build homes that are not up to scratch. The announcement means that The Dispute Service is now the preferred partner to develop the independent New Homes Ombudsman Service.

The Service forms a central plank of plans to deliver a step-change in the quality of new-build homes and the customer service provided by housebuilders. The powerful new independent ombudsman will enforce a new housebuilding industry code of practice – The New Homes Quality Code. 

The new code puts significantly more responsibilities on builders for the service they must provide – particularly after a customer moves into a new home. The new code also sets very high standards for the handling of complaints. 

The new code will be published next month, following a full public consultation carried out earlier in the year, and the New Homes Ombudsman Service will come online in the New Year. Buyers of new build homes who are unhappy with their new home, or frustrated with the performance of the developer in handling their complaint will be able to ask the New Homes Ombudsman to review their case. The Service will independently consider cases and rule whether there has been a breach of the New Homes Quality Code. 

The Ombudsman designate will be Alison MacDougall, who is currently Group Director of Resolution at The Dispute Service where she heads up the team of adjudicators and resolution executives dealing with disputes between landlords and tenants. 

Alison has had extensive experience in dispute resolution and ombudsman activities. She helped to establish the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education where she dealt with student complaints about higher education providers.

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Is the property market finally slowing down? HMRC seems to think so

There is always a huge amount of hype around the housing market sentiment, but the amount of properties registered at HM Land Registry always gives a data-factual picture. And the data says that the amount of new movers has dropped off a cliff, after a huge amount of activity in previous months. 

In fact, October was the quietest month for completions for seven years, according to HMLR records, with only around 77,000 completed sales. On average, the typical number is around 100,000 a month across a twelve-month span. 

Many agents though are still bullish, citing the fact there is little inventory out there, but I think this indicates that many are sitting on their hands and waiting. Waiting to see if interest rates go up in December if the seven wise members of the Bank of England financial committee decide to increase the lending rate. 

Industry commentators have their own views. Adam Forshaw, lead at conveyancing firm ONP, commented: “The number of housing transactions has practically halved in October compared to September, which is a direct result of the end of the stamp duty holiday. This is back to levels seen before the pandemic started and could be described as a return to normality after the frenzy that the stamp duty holiday unleashed on the housing market.”

The director of Search Acumen, Andy Sommerville said the market has operated at a frenetic pace since the introduction of the SDLT holiday last year. “It was inevitable that we would see a drop off in transactions immediately following the reintroduction of pre-pandemic tax levels, as buyers and sellers made a huge push to complete sales before the deadline.”

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Andrew Stanton Founder & Editor of 'PROPTECH-X' where his insights, connections, analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are based on writing 1.3M words annually. Plus meeting 1,000 Proptech founders, critiquing 400 decks and having had 130 clients as CEO of 'PROPTECH-PR', a consultancy for Proptech founders seeking growth and exit strategies. He also acts as an advisory for major global real estate companies on sales, acquisitions, market positioning & operations. With 100K followers & readers, he is the 'Proptech Realestate Influencer.'