Hips to be rolled out for all properties

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By David Prosser, Deputy Business Editor

Home information packs are finally to become compulsory on all house sales, the Government announced yesterday, almostsix months after the initiative, designed to speed up the conveyancing process, was firstintroduced.

Ministers had intended to launch HIPs across the market in June, but suspended the full-scale roll-out of the plans amid concerns there were insufficient numbers of home inspectors, the officials who compile the energy ratings that are an important part of the packs, to service the market. The plans were therefore only initially compulsory on homes with four bedrooms or more, though three-bedroom properties have also been covered since September.

The Housing minister, Yvette Cooper, said that an independent review of how HIPs were operating had found no evidence that the reports were affecting house prices, as some estate agents have claimed. She said the plans would therefore become compulsory on all house sales from 14 December.

It had been feared that the packs, which can cost sellers up to £600, would limit the supply of new homes, but a study by Europe Economics suggested that such problems were marginal, Ms Cooper said.

Jeremy Leaf, a spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said: "Rolling HIPs out to one-and two-bed properties could find first-time buyers caught between a rock and a hard place as accessibility to the market would go off the scale."