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ED’S BLOG: HIPs are back to cause problems for all

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31/07/2007

Home Information Packs (HIPs) are back from tomorrow (1st August) and there’s nothing anyone can do about them now except shell out your £400-£700 when you come to sell your house.

After a two-month reprieve because of a claimed lack of qualified inspectors, they will be compulsory from tomorrow for four-bedroom properties. This will be extended to all properties “soon”, and Scotland will get its own version in 2008, presumably reflecting the dominance of Scotsmen in the Government.

Opposition to the packs comes from a sparse group of lightweight troublemakers like the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Law Society, the National Association of Estate Agents and the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Oh, and yourmoney.com, which believes they are one of the most massively misconceived bureaucratic blunders since the late, unlamented Poll Tax.

No one has been able to explain to me why these packs will do anything other than add another level of paperwork and expense for hard-pressed citizens. And how do they prevent the same old tricks being pulled by buyers and sellers alike as they manouevre to get one over on each other?

The Government, as ever, has substituted sloganeering for clear thinking. “HIPs and energy certificates will cut nearly a million tonnes of carbon a year, lower family fuel bills by hundreds of pounds and help reduce the millions of pounds wasted by consumers when buying and selling their homes,” a spokesperson thundered magisterially.

Yeah? How? And it was positive of Mike Haley of the Office of Fair Trading to threaten estate agents with compulsory winding up if they marketed homes without a pack. “If an agent fails to comply this could trigger an investigation,” he warned, obviously having missed a career in the Sweeney.

LATE NEWS: As I type an email has come through concerning someone called Maria Coleman, the ‘first lady of HIPs’ (the industry is full of self-congratulation), who has been at the forefront’ of sellers’ packs since 1996 and who is stepping down from her official role. “Tomorrow my vision becomes a reality,” she opines. Yes, thanks a bunch, Maria, I don’t know what we would all have done without you.

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