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Property groups hit out at new changes to UK home information packs

Under current rules sellers can market their properties immediately as long as they have commissioned a HIP. But from April 6th a completed pack must be in place before the property can be marketed and more detailed information is required.

Leading the calls is the National Association of Estate Agents which says that they are costly, misunderstood and simply not working despite the government spending £1.3 million promoting them.

'The cost is punishing sellers in the pocket at a time when they really need all the help that they can. More galling, they are spending this money in the knowledge that 77% of buyers admit that they paid no attention to the pack whatsoever,' said Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the NAEA.

'HIPs are confusing to customers and act as a dampener on a housing market which is essential to Britain's economic recovery,' he added. The Association says they should at least be suspended and their viability re-assessed once the property market picks up.

The HIPs scenario beyond April 6 when the changes come into force is a disaster about to happen, according to one of the largest pack providers. With only days to go personal search companies still have no idea what local authorities will be charging for information and access for the new information that is required, said Andrew Lloyd, managing director of MDA SearchFlow.

Lloyd said he thought there would be a variation not just in costs levied by councils but in the information they will make available. He said that while the new rules state that searches in HIPs must be full and complete, and not underwritten by insurance, some answers will still not be available.

'For example, some authorities hold a register of contaminated land. Others do not, and say that details cannot be made available for reasons of national security. So where does that leave HIPs?' he said.

According to Graham Lang, operations manager at The Nottingham Property Services, the new changes will make selling a property a major logistical exercise for everyone involved in the process.

'On average, a HIP can currently be provided to a seller within five days of a selling instruction being received. But the new legislation will undoubtedly lead to this process being delayed. Therefore sellers must prepare themselves for some frustrations,' he said.