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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 September 2006, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Seller packs could face delay
By Bob Howard
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

A couple looking in an estate agent's window
The home condition report will be a voluntary part of the pack
The government's Home Information Packs (HIPS) are likely to be delayed, a senior member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has warned.

Jeremy Leaf told BBC Radio 4's Money Box it is "almost inconceivable" HIPS can be launched by June as planned.

His comments came two months after the government announced that the survey - which was to be a mandatory part of the pack - would now be voluntary.

Government plans for the introduction of HIPS were in disarray, Mr Leaf said.

There's a no real chance of having this ready by June next year
Jeremy Leaf, Rics
"It was always felt that the Home Condition Report was the most important aspect of the home buyer's reform," he continued.

"In lots of ways we feel it's now fundamentally flawed. The way the government is working at the moment, there's a no real chance of having this ready by June next year.

"I feel that date is almost inconceivable."

Chris Shaw is managing director of Countrywide Surveyors, which was about to train scores of its employees to become home inspectors.

He said the whole scheme is now dead in the water: "It's difficult to conceive of a situation where a vendor will voluntarily incur additional costs and produce a warts-and-all report if that puts them - in their eyes - at a potential disadvantage compared to their neighbours."

'Inundated'

Even if sellers do not voluntarily invest in a Home Condition Report, they will still have to pay for an Energy Performance Certificate and searches, which will remain part of the mandatory HIP.

The Association of Home Information Pack Providers (AHIPP) believes enough home owners will opt for voluntary Home Condition Reports, and that home inspectors will still be in demand to compile Energy Performance Certificates.

There's definitely an appetite for Home Information Packs with a Home Condition Report
Paul Broadhead, AHIPP
Paul Broadhead, the association's deputy director general told the programme:

"We've been inundated with estate agents, home inspectors and consumers for further information about the roll-out.

"There's definitely an appetite for Home Information Packs with a Home Condition Report."

Home inspectors

Since the government's announcement, some trainee home inspectors have decided not to finish their course because they do not think there will be enough work for them.

Lucy Rowe paid 7,000 for a course set up by BRE in Hertfordshire.

She told the programme: "We were the ones that went out there and sold the idea to the general public and then the government just says we don't like the idea any more."

Housing Minister Yvette Cooper has written to home inspectors over the summer to try to reassure them.

Money Box understands that later this month, the government will issue another statement.

But Linda Gray, who represents around 1,000 home inspectors, said: "If the government doesn't come out and say something shortly there might not be any home inspectors left."

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 2 September 2006 AT 1204 BST. The programme was repeated on Sunday, 3 September, at 2102 BST.



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SEE ALSO
Six locations to test home packs
11 Aug 06 |  England
What is going on with HIPs?
19 Jul 06 |  Business
New concerns over home inspectors
03 Dec 05 |  Moneybox
Home is where the HIP is
12 Jul 06 |  Inside Money

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