Leading players in the housing industry voiced considerable concerns about aspects of the Housing Bill during a parliamentary briefing organised by the National Association of Estate Agents last week.
The briefing brought together representatives of the property industry to brief members of both the House of Commons and House of Lords with regard to concerns over proposals for home information packs. The briefing, chaired by Lord Corbett, heard from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Law Society, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Consumers' Association and the National Association of Estate Agents.
Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the NAEA, reiterated that the association supported any legislation that would improve the buying and selling process, but that its major concern is that day one marketing of homes would not be allowed without a pack in place - a process that could take days or weeks.
Bolton King says: “It is a serious concern that 25% of prospective sellers might not put their homes on the market if they had to pay money upfront to compile this pack. It is the homeowners' historic right to decide when to buy or sell and these proposals will erode that freedom. In addition, restricting the supply of homes could result in house price inflation.”
Alex Solomon of the CML says that anything that impacts on housing would effect the macro economic situation. He added that many aspects of the proposed legislation remain unresolved - such as putting insurance in place for home inspectors, the length of time a pack will remain valid and the sheer number of searches needed on a property which would possibly include environmental searches for old coal mines and radon gas.
Paul Marsh of the Law Society suggested packs would have to be prepared by people who knew what they were doing and thought solicitors would have a major role in this. Marsh suggested that far from preventing gazumping, the introduction of HIPs could inadvertently encourage this practice as detailed property information would be widely distributed to many prospective buyers who might wait until the last minute to make an offer.
Emma Harrison of the Consumers' Association was the one speaker who gave unequivocal support to HIPs as said they would result in fewer failed transactions. She said that a survey carried out by the Consumers' Association showed that 68% thought HIPs were a good thing. However, the survey also revealed that a quarter of people would be put off selling because of the pack.
Chairman of the briefing Lord Corbett commented that in his 25 years it was unprecedented for an industry to come together in such a manner raising so many common issues of a potentially problematic nature.