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Wannabe inspectors could lose out

I received an email from Tory leader David Cameron last week. He says I’m right to be anti- Home Information Packs because they’re pants. Well, I paraphrase on account of limited space. And it wasn’t actually Cameron who wrote, it was his correspondence secretary.

“After you’ve scrapped HIPs, what are your proposals to deal with the people who have paid to train as home inspectors?” I had asked.

Cameron was keen to point out that as the Housing Act 2004 passed through parliament, the Tories had opposed HIPs vigorously. They’d even gained concessions including consultation with housing market professionals and a suspension clause so the measures can be dropped if the trials prove unsuccessful. And, of course they’ve pledged to scrap HIPs if they win the next general election.

The government’s hope that HIPs will inject certainty and transparency into the home buying system and speed up the process finds no favour with the Tories. They don’t believe HIPs will be much of an improvement and reiterate the usual suspects in respect of why they won’t work. The packs don’t address the problems people buying and selling houses face. They won’t prevent offers falling through due to lack of finance on the part of buyers and they don’t introduce any measures regarding insurance for loss of fees.

Instead they further benefit surveyors and solicitors, and represent a vast rise in state control over the property market which will make things worse rather than better.

They say HIPs will create red tape and expense. This is a view expressed by shadow housing minister Michael Gove and endorsed by the Select Committee on the draft bill and the Local Government Association.

Then there’s the cost – up to 1,000 for every seller. This will line the pockets of surveyors and inevitably be passed on to consumers. And this cost may not be a one-off, given the restricted shelf life of the surveys and valuations.

Yes, but what about the people training to become home inspectors? Cameron says: “Our policy on HIPs is guided by what we believe will be best for the country. While we understand that individuals who wish to undertake training to become home inspectors will have invested time and money in the process, our principal aim is to ensure that millions of home owners around the country are not hit with yet another tax.”

Hoorah! Not an ambiguous answer but it would make me think twice before shelling out my corn to train.

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