Norfolks online estate agents. Est. 2007

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30 January 2008

Campaigners want sellers to keep the right to put their home on the market before their home information pack (Hip) is finalised.

At present owners can market their properties as soon as they have commissioned a Hip, but from June it will have to be completed first.

Pressure group Splinta has launched a petition to persuade the government to maintain the current system.

The government said the concession had only ever been a temporary measure.

Delay

Hips, now compulsory for all homes being sold in England and Wales, are intended to speed up the sale of homes, and give all buyers an energy rating for the property.

The packs were initially meant to include a report on the condition of the property - but the government decided to make that element voluntary.

The slimmed down packs, containing title deeds, local searches and an energy performance certificate (EPC), were then meant to be introduced from 1 June last year.

This was put back until August - and initially only applied to properties with at least four bedrooms.

In September, packs became compulsory for properties with three bedrooms, and in December for those with one or two bedrooms.

At the moment sellers must commission a Hip before they can put their property on the market, but have a 28-day window for it to be finalised.

This concession was due to be withdrawn on 1 January 2008, at which point sellers would have to have a finalised Hip before starting to market their house or flat.

But in December the government said it would delay changing the rules until 1 June 2008.

'Poison chalice'

The campaign group Splinta, which stands for Sellers' Pack Law is not the Answer, has long argued against Hips, which it believes distort the housing market.

PACK CONTENTS

Must include:
An energy performance certificate
Sale statement
Evidence of title
Standard searches
Can also include:
Home condition report
Copies of planning, listed building or building regulations consents
Local searches
Guarantees for any work on the property

Splinta wants the current ability to market a property as soon as a Hip has been commissioned - so-called "first day marketing" - to be extended.

It believes making sellers wait until the pack is completed would unfairly penalise individual homeowners, and damage the health of the housing market. It has launched a petition on the 10 Downing Street website, calling for the regulations not to be amended.

"There is no sustainable argument in favour of ending first day marketing, and the strength of feeling about this is making itself shown in the rapidly escalating number of signatures on the petition," said estate agent and Splinta spokesman Nick Salmon.

"[New Housing minister] Caroline Flint has inherited the poison chalice of Hips from her predecessor, Yvette Cooper.

"We sincerely hope that she will take a pragmatic and intelligent view about the scheduled change," he added.

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) insisted that the extension will end as scheduled on 1 June, and said Hips were already delivering "real benefit" to consumers and the environment.

"First-time buyers' upfront costs are falling as a result of the packs, greater competition is driving down the cost of Local Authority searches for all, and EPCs are helping consumers cut fuel bills and carbon emissions," said a DCLG spokesman.

"As we have previously set out, we have extended the temporary provisions on first-day marketing in order to help ensure the continued smooth implementation of Hips," he added.


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