England Halts Disastrous Home Information Packs

Perhaps the implementation of the Home Information Packs looked good on paper, but as of today, the tool originally meant to promote peace of mind for potential home buyers is now a thing of the past in England and Wales. Home Information Packs (HIPs) put sellers of residential properties in those two countries under a duty to provide a pack of standard information to potential buyers when marketing the property for sale. It is similar to requiring a mandatory, standardized form for home inspectors in the United States. When introduced in 2007, HIPs quickly became a symbol of the Labour Party’s lack of desire to listen to the needs of the building industry, real estate agents and even appraisers. HIPs were meant to reduce the number of walk-aways from potential deals, as borrowers would apply for the mortgage after receiving full disclosure on the property. However, the costs proved prohibitive and those who may have sold their homes, instead chose to rent. Potential buyers also saw fees increase as sellers looked to pass on some of the burden. Costs were projected to reach an estimated at £870m ($1.2bn) over 10 years by government estimates. With the newly-elected coalition government now in power, HIPs are now on the chopping block. Housing Minister Grant Shapps said that the removal of HIP requirements, “is a great example of how this new Government is getting straight down to work by cutting away pointless red-tape that is strangling the market.” “Rather than shelling out hundreds of pounds [of British currency] for nothing in return we’re stripping away bureaucracy and letting home owners sell their properties.” Communities Secretary Eric Pickles ordered the temporary halt to HIPs yesterday, while filing for legislation to make the move permanent. “This swift and decisive action will send a strong message to the fragile housing market and prevent uncertainty for both home sellers and buyers,” Pickles said. “HIPs are history. This action will encourage sellers back into the market, and help the market as a whole and the economy recover.” Write to Jacob Gaffney.

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