Trade bodies link to attack Hips

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The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) will join forces this week to lobby for an overhaul of the Home Information Pack (HIP) regulations.

HIPs, introduced last year, force homeowners to pay for a full environmental assessment of their property, as well as commission local searches, before they can put it on the market.

The trade bodies say that these requirements have helped to strangle the property market.

Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the NAEA, said: "With the economic situation worsening and the property market still suffering, we are calling on the Government to take urgent action on HIPs.

"We have long seen HIPs as not fit for purpose and as the wrong answer to simplifying the house buying process. Quite simply, the Government tried to force 'square pegs into round holes' and the slower property market is making this situation worse. For instance, the current call for local searches to be conducted as part of a HIP is madness. Due to the length of time properties are on the market in the current climate, a majority of searches are out of date by the time the property is sold, which means they have to be repeated at extra cost to the consumer."

Rics' director of external affairs, Gillian Charlesworth,said: "These legal documents must be taken out of the packs and left to buyers and their advisers to obtain at the appropriate time during the transaction." Rics wants HIPs to be replaced with a voluntary report.

Mr Bolton King at the NAEA said that a simplified pack could include a sellers' questionnaire, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), and the Land Registry title and plan. "This is the only information that is helpful for consumers and the industry as a whole," he said.