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Last Updated: Monday, 6 November 2006, 08:18 GMT
Home seller's pack trial starts
Viewing a house
Home Information Packs will become mandatory in June 2007
A trial of new home information packs (HIPs) is starting in six locations around England.

The packs will become a part of the home-buying process, with the seller having any searches done before putting a property on the market.

Southampton, Newcastle, Northampton, Bath, Huddersfield and Cambridge are the six test areas - sellers will not have to pay for the packs.

But it is expected that HIPs will become mandatory in June 2007.

The HIPs for England and Wales will shift the emphasis from the buyer to the seller to collate information about a property before it is sold.

The packs will include:
Evidence of title
Copies of planning, listed building or building regulations consents
A local search
Guarantees for any work on the property
An energy performance certificate.

Stephen Hayter, a chartered surveyor and sales director of a conveyancing firm, said: "It's a major change. It takes the emphasis away from the buyer and makes sure the seller puts information up front.

"Many sellers and buyers do appreciate seeing information early in the process rather than too late."

The government has set aside 4m to be used during the trial, to encourage sellers to take up voluntary packs.

In July, Housing Minister Yvette Cooper announced that the controversial home condition report element of the HIPs needed further testing and would not come into force in June 2007.

Splinta, a group opposing the introduction of HIPs, has questioned the objectivity and validity of the trials, despite government assurances.

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