HIPs plan extended to all property sales

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The Government's controversial Home Information Packs (HIPs) finally became compulsory for all residential property sales in England and Wales yesterday, prompting a new wave of complaints from estate agents and surveyors that the initiative would further damage the fragile UK housing market.

As of yesterday, sellers of homes with one or two bedrooms must provide prospective buyers with a HIP, adding an additional cost of several hundred pounds to the process of selling a property. The initiative began in August but only covered properties with four or more bedrooms. Three-bedroom homes were then included in September, before the rest of the market was brought under the legislation yesterday.

The main component of HIPs in their current format is the Energy Performance Certificate, which is a report documenting the energy efficiency of the property being sold. Originally, HIPs were also intended to force sellers to pay for a survey and a range of local searches, which would have been included within a Home Condition Report. But HCRs were dropped from the plans last year.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said that without the HCR, HIPs were a "waste of time and consumers' money", while the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) complained that HIPs would only cause problems in the housing market.