It is expected today that the HIP scheme will be frozen by the coalition government. Despite this sellers will still have to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

One of the more controversial schemes the last government introduced was the Home Information Pack.

The pack was designed to include a lot of information about the house a purchaser was buying. It was paid for by the seller and put together by an independent and qualified inspector so that the prospective buyer would have a clear picture of the biggest purchase they were ever likely to make. An MOT for house if you will. It would also provide a convenient wrapper for the Energy Performance Certificate, a requirement of EU legislation. So sellers will still need some paperwork, but much less and cheaper. The speculative seller may return as a consequence.

But a restricted document made public by the coalition shows that the real plan was more to do with gathering enough data to develop a nationwide property database on which to base council tax rises.

The whole HIPs project was roundly criticised by estate agents, and surveyors alike and the government was forced to make some U-turns. One of these was to withdraw the requirement for the pack to contain a ‘Home Condition Report’ (HCR), which would provide a warts n’ all report on the state of the property. The idea was to prevent nasty surprises causing sale fall throughs. As the HCR was paid for by the seller and was only a ‘snapshot’ of the property, many opponents said that they would be worthless the day after they were written. But without the HCR it was argued that the HIP became a hollow shell.

To fully abolish HIPs would take a change in legislation, but by freezing the requirement both parties of the coalition quickly meet one of their main party manifesto commitments. The Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickleas and TV property queen Kirstie Allsop are expected to head the government’s announcement.

One group of people that this will come as very unwelcome news for is those that trained to become HIP inspectors. Many spent many thousands of pounds of their own money obtaining the NVQ level 4 qualification they needed. They also left jobs to start what they were assured was a stable career with prospects.

One of the outcomes of this may be that more people will put their property on the market on a speculative basis, like many did pre-HIPs. The cost of a HIP discouraged this due to cost and met one of the aims of HIPs of only having committed sellers in the market. But many sales came about due to speculative sellers getting a good price. This will depend though on the cost of the EPC, which of course is still needed.

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