Two trials of home information packs (Hips), which will become compulsory for all property vendors from June next year, are likely to go live in coming months, in spite of a call by Tory MPs for a delay in their introduction.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is pushing ahead with a national dry run of Hips, which is expected to be launched by the summer.
In addition, the Association of Home Information Pack Providers, founded by a number of key players in the Hip market, is planning its own regional trial. The association drew up a shortlist of cities and counties suitable for a test run and has chosen Cambridgeshire as the region for a trial run. This regional test is expected to be announced shortly.
Under its trial, Hips will not be compulsory but it is hoped that vendors will opt to provide a home information pack to distinguish their property from others.
Mike Ockenden, director general of the Association of Home Information Pack Providers, says that if the trial achieves a 5 per cent take-up of Hips among vendors, it will be deemed a success.
The aim of Hips is to smooth the house buying and selling process. From June 1 next year, all property vendors will have to compile a home information pack, which must include details such as evidence of title, a home condition report and replies to local searches. Vendors who fail to fulfil this requirement are likely to face fines of around £200. The government estimates that Hips will cost between £700 and £1,000 for the average property.
Proponents of the scheme argue that it will shorten the sale process and inform prospective buyers of property-related problems much earlier on in the process. They also argue that it will reduce the number of “wasted” surveys where buyers do not proceed to a purchase.
Marcus Cox, founder and chief executive of mysalepack.com, one of the providers of Hips, estimates buyers waste £1m a day on aborted purchases.
However some concede these numbers look overblown. Peter McKendrick, a former president of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and currently non- executive chairman of Habitus Surveyors, a member of the Association of Home Information Pack Providers, says: “There could be, within the industry as a whole, additional costs.”
This is because some buyers will purchase a full structural survey in addition to the inferior home condition report that will be contained within Hips.
However, Mckendrick argues that the scheme will be in the interests of consumers as it will lead to “more informed buyers and sellers giving greater certainty and reducing the potential for frustration”.
Stephen Nation, director of home information packs at Spicerhaart, argues that Hips will mean buyers are better informed as “80 per cent of properties being purchased in the UK are based on mortgage valuations only”.
But there are concerns that there will be a shortage of qualified home inspectors to carry out home condition reports by June next year. Some also fear the scheme could encourage gazumping as it could make it easier for last-minute buyers to complete house purchases.
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