HIP replacement a shot in the arm


ESTATE agents in Scarborough have welcomed one of the first policies of the new coalition government aimed at boosting the country's ailing housing market.

Tory Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced that the requirement of homeowners to put together a Home Information Pack (HIP) before putting their properties on the market has been suspended.

The HIP scheme, introduced in 2007, was intended to provide potential home buyers with free information to prevent deals falling through at a late stage or ""gazumping"".

The packs were required to include information including title deeds, a property information questionnaire and energy efficiency data.

However many criticised the policy because of the cost of a HIP, which could run to hundreds of pounds. HIPs also came under fire from critics because of the amount of red tape involved.

Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats promised in their manifestos to scrap HIPs if elected.

Scarborough MP Robert Goodwillhas backed the move, saying the policy had been a ""bureaucratic nightmare"" that acted as a barrier to people testing the housing market.

He added: ""This is one of the first examples of how we said we were going to cut bureaucracy to make the process of buying and selling houses much easier.

""We will retain energy performance certificates, which have actually been a very successful aspect because it gives people some indication of how much it costs to keep their home. It is the only bit of the HIP scheme to have any justification at all.""

Duncan Cowen, a partner at Andrew Cowen estate agents in St Nicholas Street, said that the move was ""the best thing to happen to the housing market for a long time"".

He added: ""I have nothing against the principle of HIPs, but their day to day implementation was very difficult. In practice they were a complete and utter waste of time.

""I would say that they have frustrated all of our customers and their abolition will certainly help. What we need now is for the banks to start lending to first-time buyers at reasonable rates. That will really kick-start the market.""

Norman Jackson, owner of Jackson Property Service in Newborough, said: ""I think all estate agents are the same - we're delighted they have gone.

""The vast majority of us fought the government in the first place and it irritates me that the National Association of Estate Agents, who were saying what a good thing they were a few years ago, have now changed their tune.

""I think it's wonderful they have gone - it's superb. HIPs were a complete waste of time. I had about five people asking to look at them in the whole time they were compulsory and they cost about 300.

""I think that people will look back in years to come and think ""what the hell were they all about?'""

Nick Fenwick, a partner at Colin Ellis Property Services in Aberdeen Walk said: ""This is long overdue. They were nothing more than an information gathering mechanism for the government and I'm glad the new one has seen sense.""

Scarborough Evening News 2010