The Housing Bill received royal assent today, meaning that sellers’ ‘Home Information Packs’ (HIP) will become compulsory in two years.

Paid for by vendors and composed of documents such as a draft legal contract, searches, and, crucially, a home condition report, the packs are intended to speed up our house selling system, which is thought to be the slowest in Europe.

The House of Lords has now cleared the way for HIPs, which Which?, the consumers association, believes will benefit both buyers and sellers, and save millions of pounds in failed transactions.

Which? spokesperson Emma Harris said: ‘This is great news for home-movers and will help give peace of mind to millions as they undertake one of the most expensive and stressful events of their lives. Each year millions of pounds are unnecessarily lost through failed transactions resulting from hidden problems. HIPs will go a long way to providing vital information on a property, helping to avoid costly last minute hitches.’

Peers had initially rejected the packs, saying that they would do little to speed up transactions: ‘There are a number of reasons why sales do not proceed. All that the home information pack will do is introduce an additional cost in every case. It ain’t broke so why are we trying to fix it with this principle of compulsion?’ said Lord Hunt of the Wirral.

The packs will come into force from January 2007, following a six-month ‘dry run’.