HIPS not gone for good, says Kent

HIPS are not gone for good, says Trevor Kent former president of the National Association of Estate Agents and a leading HIP critic.

Kent says: “What the government has actually said, unless there is a further U-turn is that HIPs will still be an expensive mandatory requirement on June 1 2007. The only change is that sellers will not, at the moment, be forced to pay for and include the ‘survey ‘ element known as The Home Condition Report. As soon as a property goes on the market vendors will still be required, by law, to buy searches and pay for a surveyor to visit their homes to prepare an Energy Performance Certificate. A HIP provider will also have to call for the Deeds or search the Land Registry and prepare a legal report. The HIP provider will then bring all the information collected together into a Home Information Pack for buyers to probably ignore.

“The cost of this new ‘reduced HIP’ to those wishing to go on the market will depend upon the size, age and complexity of owners’ homes for the emmissions assessment, together with the charges for Searches for their area (which vary greatly by region). The HIP provider will need an abundant supply of Energy Surveyors close at hand to keep travelling charges down and a goodly profit as befits a monopoly supplier . It is quite possible this ‘Reduced HIP’ for an average 3 bedroom semi will be around 350 + VAT. A 4 bedroom ‘commuter’ home could cost 700, and a higher earner’s luxury home nearer 1000. Most importantly, this expensive irrelevance still has to be paid for even if the property doesn’t sell.

“It is not clear yet whether the public and/or estate agents will still be liable to a 200 a day fine if they don’t buy a ‘Reduced HIP’ when their property goes on the market.

“What of the usefulness of the reduced HIP? The Consumers Association, the only body to have supported HIPs from their dastardly conception on a table in 1998 by John Prescott, now say of mandatory ‘reduced HIPs’ – they are a “half-baked compromise……little value but of real expense to consumers, and WHICH? cannot therefore continue to provide support.” Michael Gove Conservative shadow housing minister has called for the government to abandon the whole scheme and 132 Members of Parliament across all three parties have signed an Early Day Motion to this effect.

“Buyers will not be interested in the ‘thermal efficiency’ of the house they want to buy, their solicitors won’t be interested in Searches once aged a few weeks, and their clients will have to pay for new ones. Mortgage Lenders will have no use at all for the ‘reduced HIP’ and borrowers will still pay for mortgage valuations. A complete waste of time and money.

“Buyers, sellers and their advisors must be made aware that costly HIPs are still very much with us and they should continue to press their MPs for the immediate total withdrawl if this harebrained Prescott initiative.”