Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 12:39 UK

Call for new review of home packs

Home Information Pack
Home Information Packs have proved controversial

A review of Home Information Packs (Hips) is needed given the housing market slowdown, estate agents say.

Local searches are a requirement in the packs, but the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) says they are out of date by the time a property is sold.

It wants a simpler pack, but the government says that the system is bringing benefits to consumers.

The packs - which are compulsory in England and Wales - are aimed at preventing sales falling through.

'Wrong answer'

The NAEA wants a new slimline pack just to include a sellers' questionnaire, an Energy Performance Certificate, and the Land Registry title and plan.

"With the economic situation worsening and the property market still suffering, we are calling on the government to take urgent action on Hips," said Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the NAEA.

"We have long seen Hips as not fit for purpose and as the wrong answer to simplifying the house buying process."

But a Department of Communities and Local Government spokesman said that the packs were bringing benefits to consumers by providing information to help families cut their fuel bills and carbon emissions, as well as cutting the price of property searches.

"First-time buyers are also receiving the information in the Hip for free, helping to reduce costs for households looking to get on to the property ladder," he said.

The Conservatives say they will scrap the packs if they came to power.

"Independent analysis has repeatedly shown that Hips provide no benefit to a struggling housing market. They hamper, not help, just adding another layer of bureaucracy and another extra cost," said shadow housing minister Grant Shapps.

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