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Government announces HIP shake-up

Housing minister Margaret Beckett has announced an overhaul of home information packs which will force sellers to compile a HIP before the property is marketed.

Sellers can currently commission and pay for a HIP and then start marketing their property for up to 28 days before the pack is available, but from April 6 2009 they will no longer be allowed to market the property without the HIP.

A new Property Information Questionnaire will also be introduced.

The questionnaire will include flood risk information, gas and electricity safety, service charges, structural damage, and parking arrangements to help buyers make decisions on whether to view and purchase a property.

The new PIQ will go alongside other important information in the pack, such as energy performance certificates.

Beckett says: “The government fully expects the changes being made today will mean no extra burdens for estate agents, and for example they will still be able to advise potential clients about properties they expect to be coming onto the market. Under the changes made today, from April 6 sellers will need to have the basic HIP before their home is marketed, which is expected to take three to five days to compile.”

But Chris Brown, president of the National Association of Estate agents says the government should have grasped the opportunity to suspend HIPs and restore some confidence to the market.

He says: “As it is, the NAEA recommendation’s that the production of local searches is delayed until a purchaser is found has been ignored. This has resulted in an ongoing need for updating property search information, adding further cost to the consumer.

“On the basis that local searches were moved back in the process, we did agree that consideration should be given to the introduction of a PIQ.

“This was on the assumption that it was easy to produce and of use to the consumer. We look forward to ongoing consultation as to the final version of the questionnaire to ensure that it is not just another added burden to the process.

“NAEA Members’ biggest concern will be the proposal to end the first day marketing proposal from April 6 2009. Consumers have made it abundantly clear to us that they believe that they should have the right to market their house from day one rather than having to wait until the HIP is prepared.

“The government has suggested that certain information can be added at a later time of up to 28 days and we look forward to hearing the exact nature of this.”


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