Teething problems for controversial HIPs


Following new survey results released on Thursday, the government’s Home Information Packs (HIPs) came under fire, being called “a farce” and “a complete waste of time” by shadow housing minister Grant Shapps.


[UKPRwire, Tue Mar 11 2008] Following new survey results released on Thursday, the government’s Home Information Packs (HIPs) came under fire, being called “a farce” and “a complete waste of time” by shadow housing minister Grant Shapps.

The survey, by research company Ipsos Mori, showed that some 80% of home-buyers taking part in a trial of the controversial document either never saw a HIP at all or saw it too late for their purchase decision to be influenced by it. In the pilot phase only 40% of buyers were provided with HIPs, while 76% said the document had no impact at all on their decision. Only 7% said the packs had helped in their decision-making.

Sixty percent of buyers said they were never shown a HIP for the property, and 24% said they only saw it after they made an offer. Only 16% who saw the document enough in advance for it to be considered in their decision.

On a more positive note, 75% of buyers said they trusted the information in the packs.

The HIPs, which aim to speed up the home-buying process as well as give buyers an energy rating for the property, were launched in August 2007 for properties with 4 or more bedrooms, extended to 3-bedroom properties in September, and to all properties in England and Wales from December 14. Some 370,000 HIPs have been issued since August, at an average cost of £300-£350.

Most buyers did not find that HIPs had either speeded up the buying process or made it more efficient. However 72% of those sellers who had commissioned a HIP were satisfied with the results (though only 22% of sellers thought that the HIP actually helped the sale).

Sellers can forego the HIP if they sell their property to a house-buying company. Lawrence Smith of Decision Homebuyers explained: “Since the property is not being marketed, the seller saves on spending up to £400 on the cost of a HIP as well as on the time taken to prepare the document.”

Housing minister Caroline Flint defended HIPs, saying that consumers were already benefiting from them. In particular, a third of buyers planned to improve the energy efficiency of their home on the basis of the HIPs’ energy ratings of the property.

Following the trials last year, the govennment launched a HIPs public awareness campaign, both for consumers and to remind estate agents of their responsibility in providing HIPs.






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