Countrywide to reimburse clients for HIP orders

Countrywide is to reimburse all clients for Home Information Pack orders that have been placed in the seven days before the government announced it was suspending the packs.

Refunds will be paid to clients upon completion, with refunds covering the HIP payment minus the cost of an EPC. Refunds will be paid on completion of the sale by deducting the necessary amount from the final invoice.

Clients that have taken marketing advice from Countrywide about selling their property since January 1 will also be offered a free energy performance certificate if they put their property on the market before May 31.

Robert Scarff, managing director of Countrywide’s estate agency division, has welcomed the decision by the government to suspend HIPs.

But he says: “Housing no longer commands a seat at the Cabinet table and I hope that this decision does not reflect a lack of priority while so much is at stake.

“This fragile market underpins the economy and there is still much to do in the affordable homes sector to address the chronic under-supply of new homes in the UK.”

The government announced yesterday that it was scrapping HIPs with immediate effect, although EPCs are still required.

The coalition government also revealed yesterday that it plans to review the effectiveness of raising the Stamp Duty threshold from £125,000 to £250,000 for first-time buyers.

Scarff agrees that an extensive review is needed.

He says: “The new government has an opportunity to make long-term positive changes to the housing market.

“The Conservatives manifesto included plans to permanently scrap Stamp Duty for first-time buyers on properties up to £250,000.

“The temporary change introduced by the Labour government should now be confirmed as permanent and the arbitrary nature of the higher rate bands should be reviewed.”