Fridays Property Lawyers’s Legal Director Simon Seaton has addressed the issue head-on by introducing the first online, legally-assisted Property Information Questionnaire.
Seaton said: "A significant amount of investment has been made in both the technology and in obtaining the best legal advice, including that of Queen’s Counsel, to ensure that the seller and agent are afforded absolute protection.
"Furthermore, our PIQ can even be completed with the agent as it is also designed to reduce the chance of the agent being caught out by the Property Misdescriptions Act."
Seaton stated that Fridays’s Legally Assisted PIQ also guaranteed protection for the seller, and even the estate agent, against being sued for negligent statement and may even increase the marketability of the property.
"One of the problems with the Government-prescribed PIQ is that it doesn’t give the seller an opportunity to elaborate on or clarify the answers given on the form.
"For example, the questionnaire asks how many years remain under the lease. While the lease may only have 50 years to run, the Government form does not encourage you to clarify whether or not you have a share of freehold. At Fridays our Legally Assisted PIQ interacts with the user, encouraging him or her to add positive information like whether they have a share of the freehold or where they are in the process of extending the lease.
"Another example might be where the property has suffered from flooding. Our PIQ encourages the seller to define the scope of the problem and how quickly it was resolved. The Government form doesn’t allow the seller to differentiate between an overflowing bath and a property sitting on a major flood plain. You can only imagine what a cautious buyer will do with too little information."
Sometimes, with new forms, it takes time just to understand what is being asked before you can even attempt to find the answers.
Asked whether or not Fridays would provide assurances about how quickly the PIQ took to complete, Seaton said: "In the past few weeks we have found that most sellers complete the form within 15 to 20 minutes. On average the PIQ is returned within 25 minutes of ordering the Home Information Pack."
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