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CMA Launches Probe into Housebuilders Over Suspected Information Sharing

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CMA Launches Probe into Housebuilders Over Suspected Information Sharing

CMA Launches Probe into Housebuilders Over Suspected Information Sharing
February 26
10:12 2024

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has initiated an investigation into eight major housebuilders due to concerns about the potential sharing of commercially sensitive information, amid worries that such practices may be influencing site development and home pricing. This move is part of the CMA’s broader examination of the housebuilding sector and private rental market, prompted by previous alarms about the sector needing “significant intervention.”

The CMA’s final report highlighted dissatisfaction with the planning system and private development limitations, citing “persistent shortfalls” in home construction across England, Scotland, and Wales. The blame was attributed to complex planning rules, insufficient resources, outdated local plans, and a lack of clear targets or incentives. The report also raised concerns about private speculative development, emphasizing a focus on pricing over meeting community needs.

Estate management charges were scrutinized for being “often high and unclear” to homeowners, with unplanned charges reaching thousands of pounds. The report called for transparency and consumer protection. Other issues included a lack of incentives for quality construction, unclear routes for consumer redress, and an increase in snagging issues. The CMA recommended a New Homes ombudsman for quality concerns and suggested councils take over amenities on new housing estates.

Simultaneously, the CMA flagged potential information sharing among housebuilders, prompting an investigation into Barratt, Bellway, Berkeley, Bloor Homes, Persimmon, Redrow, Taylor Wimpey, and Vistry. No legal conclusions have been reached. CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell stressed the need for significant intervention to ensure good-quality, affordable homes, proposing streamlining the planning system and enhancing consumer protections.

The announcement resulted in a downturn in shares for key housebuilders, with Barratt, Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon, and Bellway experiencing notable declines in early trading on Monday.

Source: The Irish News

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