Developers will be aware that the New Homes Quality Code implements several new rules and requirements for housebuilders registered with the New Homes Quality Board. We've already considered several areas of the Code in previous articles, including pre-completion inspections and the new complaints procedure.
Our next instalment of this series focuses on the new, mandatory requirements for part-exchange and assisted-move schemes.
Here are our top ten tips for housebuilders to ensure they comply with the Code when offering part-exchanges or assisted moves to customers:
- Be clear, fair and don't mislead. Developers should take care not to oversell the benefits of part-exchanging and ensure that customers understand all the terms and conditions of the offer.
- Don't pressurise the customer. The offer of part-exchanging should not be used to coerce a customer into making an immediate decision to reserve a plot. This requirement complements other sections of the Code – see our previous article on high-pressure selling techniques.
- Give the customer time to consider. While developers are entitled to put a deadline on an offer to part-exchange – which should be stated clearly to the customer – this should always give the customer a reasonable amount of time to make a decision. Developers should not impose unnecessarily short timescales, as these may have the effect of pressurising the customer.
- Use plain language. The offer of part-exchange, and the terms of the developer's scheme, should be explained in a way that the customer will easily understand. Industry jargon should be avoided where possible.
- Provide full terms and conditions. Developers must fully and clearly disclose all terms and conditions so that the customer can make a fully informed decision. These must include the price the developer is offering to pay for the part-exchange property and how long the offer is valid for. Developers must not hide or exclude information that may impact a customer's decision to accept.
- Explain how the customer's current property has been valued. If a customer is only given a figure, they won't understand how the valuation has been calculated – or why it may differ from their expectations. The valuation should be independent and come from more than one suitably qualified source.
- Highlight deductions to the valuation. Developers must explain any deductions which will be applied to the fair market valuation to determine the part-exchange price. The customer must be able to understand how much will be deducted and why.
- Advise on eligibility. Developers must be clear about whether a customer will qualify for the scheme and the conditions of their eligibility.
- Be clear about key dates. Developers should set out the deadline for acceptance of the part-exchange offer and explain clearly what will happen if the customer doesn't accept the offer in time.
- Give information about completion. The Code requires developers to let customers know when the part-exchange is expected to complete, and what will happen if there's a gap or delay between the part-exchange and purchase of the new home.
Developers should ensure their sales teams are familiar with the new requirements and that they understand what's expected of them. The New Homes Quality Board provides an online training module, but developers may also wish to provide additional, tailored training for their teams. Training records should be kept, and refreshers provided to teams at least once a year.
For more information and advice on part-exchange and assisted-move schemes, or any other aspect of the new Code, please get in touch with our Real Estate Litigation team or your usual Housebuilding contact at Brodies.