Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Monday, 1 December 2008

New home report system introduced

Ministers said both buyers and sellers would benefit from the new system

Most people selling houses in Scotland now have to provide prospective buyers with a comprehensive survey.

The new Home Reports include a detailed survey covering the condition, the valuation and the energy efficiency of the house.

The scheme aims to cut the cost to buyers, who often have to commission several surveys before bidding successfully for a property.

However critics said the move would be disastrous for the housing market.

England and Wales introduced its own version - Home Information Packs (Hips) - last December.

The Scottish reports will cost between 300 and 800 each and will mean sellers having to make the single survey available to anyone interested in buying.


Some experts fear Home Reports could damage the housing market

It is a more detailed survey than most buyers commission.

People selling new or converted properties and those with properties on the market before Monday will not need a home report.

The Scottish Government said both buyers and sellers would benefit from the new system and claimed it would encourage more first-time buyers into the property market.

However, the Conservatives and the Scottish Law Agents Society (SLAS) raised concerns that lenders would not accept the valuations given in the reports because of a falling market.

Ian Ferguson, spokesman for the SLAS, said he expected the reports to become as unpopular as the Poll Tax.

He said: "Today is Black Monday. It's the birth of home reports but, quite possibly, the death of the Scottish property market.

"I predict that home report costs will become as despised as the Poll Tax."

Housing sector

The SLAS had called for their introduction to be delayed for two years, arguing the policy should not be implemented during the credit crunch because it could lead to more repossessions.

But Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell has defended the plans.

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: "The one thing everybody agrees on is that if they're being introduced they should be introduced at a quiet part of the market.

"We took advice from the housing sector and experts on this, that's why December was chosen.

"Unfortunately of course we've got an even quieter market at the moment because of the particular credit crunch problems."

Mr Stewart said the prospect of delaying the reforms had been discussed, but rejected.

He said: "We looked at the representations that came in, we looked at the evidence and we decided that we should go ahead."

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