Half the UK Turn a Blind Eye to Paperwork When Making the Biggest Purchase of Their Lives

Written on 12 April 2007

Summary Statistics

  • Two thirds (63 per cent) of all UK homeowners – equating to 12.6 million homes1 - confess to buying a house without reading all the paperwork
  • Two thirds (64 per cent) didn’t fully understand the documents and one in five (21 per cent) said it ‘didn’t matter’!
  • Over half (51 per cent) admit leaving all the paperwork to "someone else" 2

When it comes to making the biggest purchase of their life, a report out today reveals that Brits are taking the easy way out by turning a blind eye to legally binding documents.  A staggering 63 per cent of all homes in the UK, equating to 12.6 million households, have been bought without the purchaser fully reading or understanding essential documents, according to mortgage broker Charcol

Katie Tucker of Charcol comments: “Britain’s love affair with property is still alive and well, despite some potentially testing times.  While people are prepared to stretch their budgets and adapt their lifestyle in order to achieve their goal, our research has found that millions are putting their dream homes at risk by disregarding vital documents, which could highlight some fairly major areas for concern.”

The report revealed that two thirds (64 per cent) of homeowners in the UK confessed to not fully understanding the documents needed to complete their house purchase. Of those, one in five (21 per cent) thought that not understanding their paperwork ‘didn’t matter’ as a solicitor would be looking at the documentation, including the surveyors report, lease agreements and mortgage offers to name just a few. They chose instead to rely solely on their solicitors or someone else to read and deal with it all.

Of those who didn’t read all their paperwork:

  • 51% left the paperwork for to someone else to read/deal with
  • 30% depended on their solicitor to take care of the documents
  • 11% said the paperwork was just too complicated so gave up!
  • 8% said they just didn’t have time to read the paperwork

Tucker continues: “The impact of this tendency to gloss over the details could range from not knowing which bits of land you own, to fundamental payments on ground rent or sinking funds coming as a surprise down the line. The documents that are part and parcel of buying a house can be daunting thanks to the ‘legal lingo’ used throughout.  Rather than being overwhelmed by it all, consumers should make sure that they choose recommended expert advice and make sure that they trust those they employ, because missing vital details could come back to haunt them once they’ve made the purchase.”

As expected, those under 34 years old rely on professionals the most with just less than a quarter (24%) admitting to fully reading their documents. This compares to almost half (45%) of those aged 55 and older.

Tucker concludes: “Although the language of documents involved with buying a house can be complex and difficult to understand, it’s crucial to be aware of what really matters sections and make sure you understand the essential bits.  When it comes to your mortgage, having an unbiased adviser helping you to decifer all the related documentation will actually speed up the process and most importantly they will make sure that everything is in order.”


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