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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 April 2006, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Minister defends home info packs
Derelict house
The new packs should reveal the condition of a house from the start
Housing minister Yvette Cooper has defended plans to make Home Information Packs compulsory in England and Wales, as a campaign against them builds.

Ms Cooper said the criticism was coming from "vested interests" who stood to lose out when the system changes.

Sellers will have to provide would-be buyers with a survey, land registry details and answers to standard questions from June next year.

Critics say the packs are costly and will devastate the property market.

The government says the packs will cost about 600 plus VAT and will make home buying quicker and cheaper.

You are paying for all of the same information again and again. That is a huge amount of waste
Yvette Cooper
Housing minister

The conveyancing system in England and Wales is widely regarded as unnecessarily slow and expensive.

In particular, would-be buyers can spend hundreds of pounds on surveys and other enquiries only to find their money is wasted when the sale falls through.

Ms Cooper said the packs would help eradicate this problem.

She said: "There are a lot of vested interests who make money out of the current process who are complaining about these changes.

"If you think about it, at the moment if a sale falls through another buyer comes along and pays for exactly the same searches, exactly the same legal requirements, pays for exactly the same surveys.

"You are paying for all of the same information again and again. That is a huge amount of waste."

Celebrity support

Nick Salmon of campaign group Splinta (sellers pack law is not the answer), which is made up of 1,300 firms of estate agents, surveyors and solicitors, said the government was ignoring "constructive criticism".

"We believe that the general public will be extremely angry when they discover that these expensive Home Information Packs still leave them facing the problems of gazumping, chains and all the other stresses and strains of home buying and selling," he added.

The group's campaign has won celebrity support from the presenters of Channel 4's property show Location, Location, Location.

Chains and the fact that sales fall through because people simply change their minds
Kirstie Allsop and Phil Spencer

Kirstie Allsop and Phil Spencer said in a letter on the group's website that the plans would fail to significantly to improve the property market.

The extra cost of assembling the packs would outweigh any possible benefits and could reduce the number of properties on the market by a third, they said.

This would reduce choice for buyers and lead to intense upward pressure on prices, they added.

The presenters also argued that potential buyers applying for a mortgage would still have to pay for separate value inspections to be conducted by their mortgage lender.

"Gazumping, gazundering, chains and the fact that sales fall through because people simply change their minds will, sadly, all still be facts of property life after HIPs come into force.

"We would like to see cost-effective changes made that would really improve the home buying process, but the Home Information Pack is just not it.

"The only people who will benefit from these packs are the companies that will make a fortune out of compiling them - and the government, who will get hundreds of millions of pounds each year in extra VAT revenue," they added.

Why there are concerns about the Home Information Packs

Call to cut cost of house buying
21 Sep 05 |  Business
Why buyers distrust house surveys
26 Feb 05 |  Business
Home sellers' packs to become law
18 Nov 04 |  Business

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