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Last Updated: Friday, 27 October 2006, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
'Abolish home packs' say lenders
The aim of HIPs is to speed up conveyancing
Mortgage lenders have called on the government to drop its plan to introduce Home Information Packs (HIPs) into the house selling process.

Michael Coogan, head of the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), said they now looked like a costly indulgence.

The packs are being tried out in six areas next month and will be compulsory in England and Wales from next June.

But in July this year the government dropped the main requirement for the packs to include a property survey.

The aim of the HIPs is to provide potential buyers with much more information right at the start of the home buying process.

The government hopes this will cut out unnecessary delays and reduce the amount of money wasted on aborted transactions.

Energy certificates

The packs will include an energy performance certificate.

Michael Coogan, speaking at an industry dinner last night, said introducing the certificates next summer, as a compulsory element of HIPs, could disrupt the property market at its traditional peak of activity.

"I understand that there are less than 500 qualified home inspectors - we are woefully short of the numbers needed to produce even Energy Performance Certificates if they remain a core part of the pack," he said.

"And if a significant number of packs will include home condition reports on a voluntary basis, the market impact of a shortfall in home inspector numbers will be severe."

A spokesperson for the Department of Communities & Local Government disagreed. "Home Information Packs include vital information on the energy efficiency of homes, showing homeowners the measures they can take to cut carbon emissions," she said.

"We believe it's right that all homebuyers and sellers should have this information," she added.

Mark Ockenden, director general of Home Information Pack Providers (HIPP), said the packs offered substantial consumer benefits.

"HIPs reduce the stress associated with buying and selling homes by reducing the number of failed transactions and providing certainty in the process - something which all consumers will welcome," he said.

Gold plating

The CML said the requirement for the energy performance certificates amounted to "gold-plating".

It has now complained about this to the Better Regulation Commission, claiming it is an example of poor law-making.

Under the current plans the HIPs will also include the terms of the sale, legal documents such as property deeds, copies of any planning or building permission, and answers from both the seller and the local authority to standard questions about the property.

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