The government has announced plans to increase the amount of information available for potential buyers in its controversial home information packs.
It has launched a consultation on including a Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ) in the packs to give people more information about a property up front.
It hopes the move will reduce the likelihood of issues coming to light further on in the process and causing delays or sales to fall through.
The questionnaires would include information on any building work that has been carried out on the property, details on parking arrangements, council tax banding and information on the utilities connected to the property.
It has been designed so that it will be easy for sellers to fill in without the need for professional help, although it is not intended to replace the work of conveyancers and other property professionals.
People will be able to download the PIQ from the Communities and Local Government website, as well as obtaining it from Hip providers.
The consultation will run until the end of September, with a view to introducing the PIQ as a mandatory part of the packs on 1 January, 2009.
Housing Minister Caroline Flint said: ‘Having the right information about a property at the beginning of the home-buying process is essential if we are to reduce delays and cut down on wasted costs for both buyers and sellers.
‘Hips are an important first step in achieving greater efficiency and the Property Information Questionnaire will only improve on this, ensuring the buying and selling process is simpler for all.’
The government also launched a consultation on increasing the quality of leasehold information that is included in the packs.
New information on leaseholds would include details on ground rent, services charges, the cost of buildings insurance and any major works that are planned, as well as a copy of the lease itself.
There is currently only a temporary provision requiring a copy of a lease to be included in the packs.
Which? principal public affairs officer Mark McLaren said:‘We are pleased to see the government’s acknowledgement that Hips need to be enhanced to improve the consumer experience of buying and selling their home.
‘Since the Home Condition Report was dropped from Hips two years ago, we have consistently said the pack would be of limited value to consumers.
‘There is still so much more both government and industry could do to make home buying and selling easier, cheaper and quicker.
‘A first step has to be to include some kind of seller’s questionnaire upfront to the buyer and, for leasehold properties, to include more useful information about the lease.’
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