The government’s controversial Home Information Packs (Hips) will be rolled out to cover all properties by Christmas, it was announced yesterday.
Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said the extension of the scheme to one- and two-bedroom properties from December 14 would help first-time buyers.
However, surveyors have warned that the extra cost of the packs for sellers could lead to fewer ‘starter homes’ being put on the market.
Hips came into force for homes with four or more bedrooms in England and Wales on August 1, and three-bedroom properties on September 10.
They aim to speed up the house-buying process by giving potential buyers more of the information they need upfront.
Ms Cooper said 60% of the housing market was already covered by Hips, and she believed the structures were now in place to broaden the scheme.
Those trying to get a foot on the housing ladder will be better off by getting important details on properties for free, she insisted.
‘Information such as searches for which they would previously have had to pay will now be included in the Hip paid for by the seller, reducing the costs of the first step on to the property ladder.’
The packs had previously been delayed over fears that there were too few assessors for the Energy Performance Certificate element – which rates homes for efficiency and carbon emissions.
But in a written statement to MPs, Ms Cooper said there were now nearly 5,800 accredited assessors, which was ‘sufficient’ to provide certificates for all properties bought and sold.
The percentage of homes already covered by Hips
The further roll-out of the packs was welcomed by Hip Payment Services, which provides deferred payment schemes for Hip providers.
Chief executive Jeff Smith said: ‘The announcement will be greeted with much enthusiasm and relief from the industry, which has been tirelessly campaigning for Hips to be fully extended across the whole market, since their extension to three bedroom homes back in September.
‘With speculation rife and various inaccuracies about the impact of Hips on the market being banded around by the Tories and other anti-Hip groups within the industry, it was essential that the government reaffirmed its commitment to packs and announced this final and vital implementation.
‘With Hips fully rolled out across the market they will finally be able to bring about the many benefits they were initially designed to achieve – a faster, more transparent process which will aid a more informed buying decision.’
Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps said the government’s spin machine was ‘going into overdrive’ by slipping the news out on a busy day for journalists.
‘At a time when the housing market is under great pressure, the last thing anyone needs is the introduction of Hips on one- and two-bedroom homes,’ he said.
‘This latest move will dismay hard-working families because it increases instability in an already fragile market.
‘Rather than burdening people with yet more red tape, Gordon Brown should have the courage to abolish what is widely regarded as a flawed and ineffective law.’
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