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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 December 2005, 14:24 GMT
New concerns over home inspectors
By Bob Howard
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

A couple looking in an estate agent's window
Sellers will have to compile information and complete a survey
Estate agents and surveyors are concerned only 1,800 inspectors are qualified or enrolled on courses, with just 18 months to go before Home Information Packs become compulsory.

The government has estimated that up to 7,500 home inspectors may be needed to compile home condition reports, a major component of the Home Information Pack.

Home inspectors can be either existing surveyors who obtain the proper accreditation or anyone who is accredited after taking a suitable course and passing the final exam.

If not enough inspectors are accredited by June 2007, the concern is that the buying and selling of houses will be seriously affected.

It will be a challenging target to meet
William Tew, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
William Tew from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors told BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme there is an urgent need for more people to step forward.

"It will be a challenging target to meet. If there aren't enough home inspectors to produce the home condition reports, there's going to be a major drawback," he said.

Huge shake-up

Home condition reports are part of a huge shake-up of the way we buy and sell houses.

As well as the report, the packs will contain the results of searches, copies of deeds and the terms of sale.

If the reports that are coming out are rubbish, then we have a major problem
Peter Bolton, NAEA
The government estimates the whole package will cost a seller around 600 plus VAT.

Besides concerns over the number of qualified home inspectors, the government has yet to set up a system for certifying them.

Peter Bolton, Chief Executive of the National Association of Estate Agents told the programme: "This only works if everybody who is carrying out the reports is not only qualified but belongs to a system which is constantly checking the suitability of their reports.

"If the reports that are coming out are rubbish, then we have a major problem."

More clarification

Kevin Martin, President of the Law Society, said the government also has to clarify several other critical issues.

"We need to see far more about what is being put in place to certify them, who is going to do that, what will happen if things go wrong, what kind of redress schemes there will be," he said.

People will be able to trust this qualification
Housing Minister Baroness Andrews
Responding to these concerns, the government said it believes enough home inspectors will be ready for June 2007.

It said a certification system should be in place by next summer and other options for redress should follow, such as a home inspectors' ombudsman.

Housing Minister Baroness Andrews said she is confident the system will work efficiently: "People will be able to trust this qualification absolutely. We're building safeguards alongside quality at every stage of the process."

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 3 December, 2005, at 1204 GMT.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 4 December, 2005, at 2102 GMT

The BBC's Bob Howard investigates
the new home inspectors

Money Box



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