Country houses for sale

Agents moot further HIPs concerns

With less than four months to go until the introduction of HIPs (Home Information Packs), Hamptons International has warned that the scheme is confusing to both buyers and sellers, and is calling for further clarity in terms of what will be required from June 1, when the packs become mandatory.

HIPs have been a point of contention from the day they were anounced, as vendors have concerns about the extra expense commissioning a pack will entail, while buyers worry that they will want to have their own survey carried out regardless of what the HIP says, for their own peace of mind.

Then last July the Government announced that one of the components, the Home Condition Report, originally a vital part of a HIP, was to be withdrawn. It has also since introduced an Energy Performance Certificate, which assesses how energy efficient a house is. However, as yet there seems to be no final word on what will and will not be required from the packs, says Hamptons International today.

‘At the moment a vast improvement is needed,’ said Mark Anderson, MD at Hamptons UK Residential Department. ‘The implementation date is June 1 and no-one has any confidence in it. Absolutely nothing is clear. It is ridiculous that we are supposed to operate this scheme very shortly, but no-one actually knows what they’re doing.’

Others in the business are worried that HIPs will be more of a barrier than a help to those trying to buy and sell property. In recognition of this, The National Association of Estate Agents has filed a petition on the Number 10 Downing Street website which says: ‘The Government’s proposals for HIPs will not improve the house buying and selling process as it ignores the advances in the Land Registry’s EConveyancing proposals. The lack of ability to market a property without a HIP will reduce the supply of houses available and lead to additional house price inflation. Without a legal summary the consumer will be dissadvantaged rather than advantaged by the proposal.’

The petition currently has nearly 7,000 signatures; to sign it click here.

In addition to this, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors called for an end to madatory HIPs.

RICS spokesman Jeremy Leaf said: ‘Home buying reform yes! But, implementation proposals are potentially detrimental to the market and the interest of consumers and the wider economy, that we have little choice but to call for a postponement.

‘This would provide the opportunity to look at home buying reform in the round, which we have been urging the Government to do for some time. We believe that it is time to sweep up all the problems with home buying and selling rather than focus on the depleted home information pack which has most of the stuffing removed.’