Submitted by: Jim Barnaby
It is now more than three months since the controversial home information packs (Hips) became mandatory for all homes being sold in Britain. For many, this was heralding an age of bureaucracy and extra red tape, a view taken by the likes of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Conservative Party, something which the former repeatedly predicted would reduce the level of speculative placing of houses on the market, which it said accounted for a fifth of home sales, consequently pushing up prices as mores became more scarce.
Others dismissed such arguments as scaremongering, adding that in any case the key issues were to ensure houses were more energy efficient – hence the energy performance certificate provisions – while lowering the number of abandoned transactions.
According to Mike Ockendon, director general of the Association of Home Information Pack Providers, the last few months have clearly shown that the doomsayers were wrong, arguing that the introduction of Hips had made no difference.
He said: “There are more properties on the market for sale today than there were in 1999 … the forecasters of doom said people wouldn’t risk their properties so clearly that hasn’t happened.”
A recent Mori poll, however, didn’t appear to suggest that everyone had seen their buying experience altered for the better either, with 41 per cent stating the introduction of the packs had made no difference.
Responding to this, Mr Ockenden commented: “We’re not there to try and fix the 41 per cent of buyers who didn’t find anything out to cause them to change their mind, we’re there to try and fix the 25 per cent of transactions that fall through.” This, he stated, was one of the “big objectives” of Hips, although he said it was too early to assess if it had made an impact on this statistic.
Others, however, have already started questioning aspects of Hips. One of these is consumer magazine Which?. Assistant editor Nick Cheek commented that one issue was that of the “postcode lottery”, in which different people in different areas were charged varying amounts for Hips. “We looked at four regions London, Oxford and Abingdon, Rotherham and Swansea and we found prices ranged from 234 up to 529,” he stated.
Apart from this objection, Mr Cheek had other concerns, not least about what items were not included in the packs. Scotland will shortly introduce its own version of Hips called Scottish Home Reports, he noted, which will have features he believed should be added in England.
He commented: “These will include, not only what’s included in the English Hip, which is the energy performance certificate, but they’ll also include a survey which is really what we’d like to see. Which I think would make Home Information Packs much more useful than they are now.”
Of course, there is the possibility that the Scottish Home Reports will also face criticism and controversy, although the fact that Scotland’s housing market has been widely predicted to outperform the rest of the UK this year may distort any early assessment. But now Hips are with us, a proper assessment of how they work in practice rather than in theory may lead to the introduction of any obviously necessary reforms to the contents or price regulation.
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About the Author: Jim Barnaby is a real estate investment broker and successful property investment adviser delivering research and selected UK and overseas property investment solutions with experience in spanish properties, french property investment, German property, Cyprus holiday homes, Property in Cape Verde, German property investment, cape verde property buy to let propertyUrl:
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