NAEA and RICS ask for review of HIPs

HIPSIt is fair to say that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) have never been the greatest admirers of Home Information Pack legislation. It is envisaged that this week they will combine efforts when putting their views forward to the Government to attack HIPS once again.

The latest stance is one of focussed criticism towards the searches within the Home Information Pack whilst seemingly and suprisingly asking for some aspects to remain and apparently agreeing that the planned Property Information Questionnaire (P.I.Q.) would be useful.

RICS’ director of external affairs, Gillian Charlesworth, said: “These legal documents (searches) 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 as per the Carsberg report.

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.”

He said a simplified pack could include a sellers’ questionnaire, an improved Energy Performance Certificate and the Land Registry title and plan.

It maybe of interest that this is almost identical to what is planned to happen. At the beginning of September the assessment methodology RdSAP is due to be improved to make the Energy Performance Certificates more accurate and include further parameters that are not currently taken into account.

Also, recently the Government has entered into a consultation process around the planned format of the Property Information Questionnaire (P.I.Q.), which is due to be rolled out on the 1st January 2009.

Mike Ockenden, director general of AHIPP said:‘It is not necessary for purchase conveyancers to re-order searches, but even if they do, the cost savings from the inclusion of searches in HIPs far outweigh any additional cost. In other words, the inclusion of searches in HIPs save consumers money.

He said: ‘This is yet another attempt to play the ‘current market conditions’ card to derail HIPs. The inclusion of search information in HIPs allows potential buyers to be much better informed before they make an offer thus reducing the chance of transaction failure.

“HIPs as a product are not yet complete, but the issues in the process of buying and selling homes call for more information earlier and not less. It is disappointing that some professionals continue to try and sabotage a reform that is already starting to improve the home buying and selling process for consumers.”

In addtion to these comments it is worthy of note that both Local Authority searches and personal searches have reduced substantially in cost since the inception of Home Information Packs alongside evidence of quicker transaction times.

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