Mrs Beckett has backed down on plans to force owners to include local searches in HIPs before they put their property on the market. However, the new ‘basic HIP’ will include a new questionnaire covering flood risk, car parking, service charges, gas and electricity safety and any structural damage.

Contrary to original proposals, the packs will not contain either a home condition report or local searches for up to 28 days. The questionnaire will also include leaseholds, replacing previous HIP requirements.

In what will be seen as a damning indictment of the HIPs scheme that she inherited, Mrs Beckett stressed the changes were being introduced to make HIPs work “as well as possible”,

She said: “Home information packs are potentially a vital aid to consumers, and I am firmly committed to ensuring they work as well as possible. It is essential that all buyers are able to see the HIP as early as possible.”

Home sellers currently only need to have commissioned a HIP before they go to the market but from next month they would have needed to have one already. This condition is now being introduced in April.

Opponents to HIPs are disappointed that the marketing delay hasn’t been removed altogether given the state of the market.

Chris Brown, President of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), describes the Government’s moves as ‘a great pity’.
 
‘NAEA Members’ biggest concern will be the proposal to end the first day marketing proposal from 6th April 2009. Consumers have made it abundantly clear to us that they believe that they should have the right to market their house from day one rather than having to wait until the HIP is prepared. The Government has suggested that certain information can be added at a later time of up to 28 days and we look forward to hearing the exact nature of this.’