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Last Updated: Friday, 7 December 2007, 15:24 GMT
Tory bid to speed up house sales
Kirstie Allsopp and Grant Shapps
Kirstie Allsopp is seeking the views of homebuyers
The Tories have launched a review aimed at speeding up the way homes are bought and sold in England and Wales.

The party has recruited property expert Kirstie Allsopp to help come up with ideas to make the process less expensive and stressful.

Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps says the party would start by ditching the new Home Information Packs (HIPs).

The government attacked the Conservative proposals as a "bad deal for first time buyers".

But Mr Shapps said HIPs had "introduced wasteful red tape and up-front costs to the seller with little or no appreciable advantage to the buyer".

If everyone says they like HIPs I will walk naked across College Green
Kirstie Allsopp

He said the Tories would keep the government's Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) but wanted to "improve the process of moving home".

He told BBC News 24: "It takes a ridiculous amount of time and it is very expensive. I think we can do it better and that is what this review is going to be about."

Ms Allsopp, who co-presents Channel 4 property show Location, Location, Location, said the house-buying process in England and Wales was "mired in pointless bureaucracy and red tape".

"It is a stress which we don't need and it's one we can do something about.

"It is my ambition to make it easier for people to buy and sell houses."

Gazumping

She said she would be seeking the views of homebuyers on the best way of reforming the system and was prepared to consider all ideas - except keeping HIPs.

"If everyone says they like HIPs I will walk naked across College Green," she added.

The Conservatives have also signed up property expert Owen Inskip to focus on the housing industry, seeking the views of estate agents, surveyors, solicitors and mortgage lenders.

The making and accepting of an offer on a house could be made legally binding to end gazumping, in one of the proposals being considered.

Mr Shapps said the review would also look at how homes are bought and sold in other countries, including Northern Ireland, where EPCs have been introduced without HIPs, and Scotland.

'Saving money'

The government said the Conservative proposals on gazumping and scrapping HIPs would be a "bad deal for first time buyers".

Housing Minister Iain Wright said: "First time buyers would have to pay for the information they now get for free, and would be bound in to an offer even when they haven't been given the facts about problems with the property.

"The Tories have no explanation about how they would provide Energy Performance Certificates which help cut carbon emissions and save families money."

He said the government had already set up a review group involving Which, estate agents, mortgage providers and green groups, to look at speeding up the moving process.

HIPs will be required for all properties being sold in England and Wales from 14 December. Since September, all properties with three or more bedrooms have required a HIP before they can be sold.

The average cost of a HIP is between 300 and 350.





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