Esther Shaw: Sellers' packs are a long way from home and dry

A delighted friend rang me last week to say she had just had an offer accepted on her first home - a feeling I could identify with as it's almost exactly a year since I got the same good news.

And almost exactly a year from now, the Government hopes other house-hunters will be celebrating. For next June is when its much-hyped Home Information Packs (HIPs) will become compulsory.

The packs - which will make vendors, rather than buyers, responsible for compiling and paying for surveys and searches - are being introduced in a bid to reduce the £1m a day that the Government estimates is wasted as a result of sales falling through at a late stage.

But HIPs, which will cost sellers up to £1,000, are still meeting resistance at almost every turn. Last week was no exception, with the campaign group Splinta (Sellers' Pack Law is Not the Answer) claiming that in the majority of cases where a transaction collapses, the packs would make little difference.

In theory, I'm in favour of any moves to provide more information at the start of the process. This should speed things up, reduce the risk of gazumping and help ensure there aren't any nasty surprises late in the day about the condition of a property. Or at least, that's what the Government is promising.

But I have to question whether, in practice, HIPs are the right solution. For while the packs will contain a home condition report (HCR) carried out by independent inspectors, as well as evidence of deeds and local authority searches, one glaring omission will be a valuation.

The Government insists the HCR has been developed so lenders will feel confident they have all the information they need to arrive at their own valuations. But like many in the industry, I fear the lenders won't feel so assured and that buyers will end up paying for on-site inspections themselves.

Further, a broker warned me last week that while the HCR is designed to alert buyers to things that might be wrong with a property, inspectors may resort to highlighting problems with "almost everything" - to cover their own backs.

If this, as he suggests, puts potential buyers off the property market altogether, we'll be back at square one.

The Government has until the end of this month to provide detailed information on how HIPs will work - including the rules for the packs' contents and the procedures for making a complaint.

Once this information is published, the Council of Mortgage Lenders points out, the industry will be far better placed to judge the Government's assertion that implementation is on course. But how HIPs will affect the market, we won't really be able to tell until they're in force. I just hope that's not too late.

e.shaw@independent.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

    £20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

    SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Guru Careers: Application Support Analyst / 1st Line Support

    £25 - 30k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Application Support Analyst / 1st L...

    Guru Careers: .NET Developer / Web Developer

    £45K - £55K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a full stack .NET D...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence