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HIPs injured by delay

Home sellers will not have to produce a Home Information Pack (HIP) as soon as they put their house on the market until at least the end of the year after the Government announced it was extending transitional arrangements.

At the moment under an arrangement called ‘first day marketing’ a seller does not have to physically have a HIP in their hands before they put their house on the market – although they must have ordered it.

This means buyers do not necessarily see the HIP – which must include an Energy Performance Certificate - at the earliest stage.

The Department for Communities and Local Government worried by the weakening housing market has said this arrangement will continue until the end of the year.

HIP provider LMS emphasised the delay would undermine the initial impact of HIPs. A spokesman said: “Our view is that ultimately to show the real worth of HIPs you should have the document in your hands before anyone looks at your home. What is the point of having it if it is not easily accessible.

“The sooner it is implemented in full – as the Government has promised – the better. You can  now get HIPs back within five or seven days so the delay to market is minimal.”

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) is disappointed by the decision, but has welcomed moves to make HIPs more powerful.

Peter Bolton King, NAEA Chief Executive, said: “Whilst we are disappointed about the decision on first day marketing we welcome the Minister’s decision to work with property professionals like the NAEA to take another look at the content of HIPs.

“We have always maintained that in their present state, they are of little use to either seller or buyer and therefore we embrace the opportunity to come up with a package that includes real benefits to the customer and will actually assist the buying and selling process - after all, that was the original intention of this legislation. If this cannot be achieved we continue to maintain that HIPs should be scrapped.

”We are pleased that the Minister recognises the value of work being done by the NAEA, RICS and the Law Society to bring about a single set of best practice standards consumers can expect from property professionals. All NAEA professionals adhere to a strict code of conduct and we would like to see these rigorous standards reflected throughout the whole of the property industry.”

Mike Ockendon, from  the Association of Home Information Pack providers, welcomed the delay: “This represents common sense there are still a lot of issues which need to be sorted out.”

Mr Ockendon said the biggest problem for HIP providers was getting access to search information held by local authorities. He said: “I would say two thirds of local authorities are not doing their jobs properly.”

He added that Energy Performance Certificates – an integral part of the packs – were already having an impact on consumers by highlighting issues of energy efficiency.

He said: “HIPs are already having an impact and there is very little doubt we will see the effect of EPCs in the coming months as they drive reductions in carbon emissions from homes.”