Government begins HIPs countdown

Amanda Jarvis

April 10, 2006

The Government is introducing HIPs, which have long been called for by consumer groups, to address the serious problems and delays homebuyers and sellers face when they can’t get early reliable information about homes.

HIPs will provide reliable information at the beginning of the homebuying process to help prevent buyers and sellers being misled by incomplete or inaccurate information when they put in or accept an offer. Currently £1million is wasted every day when sales fall through. The Government has said that all aspects of the Packs need to be tried and tested through a dry run before becoming mandatory on 1 June next year.

The dry run has already begun with 45 organisations in England and Wales already providing more than 2500 packs on a voluntary basis. The Association of Home Information Pack Providers will be rolling out voluntary HIPs in the regions during 2006 and 2007.

From August, the first certification schemes, which will ensure the work of Home Inspectors meets tough Government standards, will be approved. Currently seven organisations have applied to run the certification schemes.

The approved schemes should begin to operate from October 2006, with qualified, certificated Home Inspectors able to register the Home Condition Report and deliver authorised reports to consumers. At the same time a rigorous testing process will be put in place for example, Home Inspectors’ work will be assessed through the Certification Schemes and consumers will be surveyed to ensure they can understand the contents of the Pack and the Home Condition Report to use them effectively.

Between 5000 and 7400 full time Home Inspectors will be required to complete an estimated 1.44 million Home Condition Reports each year. Over 4000 people have begun training to gain the Home Inspector qualification.

Housing minsiter, Yvette Cooper said:

“The current system isn’t fair on buyers or sellers. £1million is wasted every day when sales fall through and too many buyers and sellers face real headaches when it turns out they were misled or that problems emerge when it’s too late. Home Information Packs have been long called for by consumer groups to give people reliable information at the beginning of the process. Now the dry run will make sure that all aspects of the Packs are properly tested before being fully introduced next year.”

From January 2007, lenders will be able to acquire Home Condition Reports electronically from a register and use them for valuation assessments as part of their lending decisions.

This month will also see the Home Information Pack advertising campaign kick off with advertisements placed in trade and online media designed to raise awareness of the new arrangements amongst to estate agents, solicitors, mortgage lenders, surveyors and Pack providers. The campaign will be extended later in 2006 to inform and educate homeowners and first time buyers as to what they will need to do as implementation date draws nearer.

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