Proposed changes to Home Information Pack (HIPs) regulations have been welcomed by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and HIPS Direct. The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has suggested sellers can begin marketing their property with a reduced amount of documentation. Also announced today was that although the documents required will be less overall, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) must be included with property particulars.

The EPC, an energy rating document, will give potential buyers information about the energy efficiency of properties, and practical steps to reduce carbon emissions and save on energy bills. To increase awareness of the benefits of undertaking environmental improvements, the DCLG is proposing to make it the first document in the Home Information Pack when they launch on June 1. ?We want to promote a greener housing market for consumers and Energy Performance Certificates can play a key part in this,? said Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly. ?By providing more information on the energy efficiency of homes, we can help consumers make more informed choices about the homes they buy and their impact on climate change.?

As soon as an EPC and key legal documents have been provided, a seller will be able to begin marketing their property; so long searches and leasehold documents (where relevant) have been commissioned. These introductory arrangements are to be reviewed after six months.

The DCLG has also agreed that properties which are marketed before the HIPs launch of June 1 2007, and which remain on the market, will not need a HIP before March 31 2008. In addition, properties that are withdrawn from the market can still use the original HIP if remarketed by the same seller within a year of the original commission date.

But although the rules have been relaxed, estate agents are concerned that HIPs are restricting and expensive and will encourage a rush of sellers to come to the market prior to the deadline. ?The fact remains that you will not be allowed to immediately market your home,? said Charles Smailes, President at the NAEA. HIPs cost between £250 and £300 although it is not yet known how much an EPC will add to the price.

?All that is necessary to comply with EU requirements is that every property sold or let after 2009 must have an Energy Performance Certificate – no HIP just an EPC,? suggested Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents.