The plans for HIPs, which used to be known as Sellers Packs, are contained in the Housing Bill currently out for consultation but expected to commence its parliamentary process later this year.
This is not the first time the Packs have been debated in parliament. Before the 2001 election the Homes Bill, which also contained Sellers Pack requirements, almost became law but was curtailed when the election was called.
Despite the widespread attention given in Westminster and in numerous publications on the subject including research papers and consultation documents, most homeowners remain blissfully unaware that a process that has remained largely unchanged for over one hundred years is due for a radical overhaul as early as 2006.
Given this lack of awareness it is perhaps not surprising that homeowners are confused about who will benefit from Home Information Packs. Over half, 55 per cent, think the packs will only benefit buyers, while 12 per cent think sellers will be the only beneficiaries. Just 23 per cent conclude that both parties will benefit. Given that the increased cost of moving home that the packs represent will fall on sellers, it seems there will be much work to do to build up enthusiasm for the scheme.
The Government’s hope is that certainty over a housing transaction can be gained earlier in the process leading to fewer failed transactions and less wasted cost. Government estimates put this cost at £250 million a year paid by homemovers to solicitors and surveyors for work done on transactions that fall through.
Clearly a lot of work remains to bring homeowners up to speed on the revolution about to take place in homebuying in England and Wales. Homeowners themselves see this as mainly the responsibility of the Government (41 per cent) and Estate Agents (37 per cent).
Stephen Smith, Director Housing Marketing said, “When many people next move home they are in for a big shock and probably a good deal of confusion, as the process will be very different to last time. The Housing Bill is the most radical piece of legislation to hit homeowners in a generation so it is worrying that so few are even aware of it. In 2006 when the new process is due to begin many homeowners will be completely muddled by their new responsibilities unless the Government and the industry undertake a high profile public awareness programme.”