Details of a dry-run test for Home Information Packs (HIPs) already underway, have been released by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM).
The Government is planning to introduce HIPs as a way of providing reliable information at the beginning of the homebuying process to help prevent buyers and sellers being misled by incomplete or inaccurate information when placing or accepting an offer.
HIPS are scheduled to become mandatory from 1 June 2007, but the Government has said it wants all aspects of the Packs to be tried and tested through a dry-run before they come into force.
Housings Minister, Yvette Cooper, has revealed the dry-run has already begun with 45 organisations in England and Wales already providing more than 2,500 packs on a voluntary basis, while the Association of Home Information Pack Providers plan to roll out voluntary HIPs in the regions during 2006 and early 2007.
It was also revealed, that from August, the first certification schemes, which will ensure the work of Home Inspectors meet tough Government standards, will be approved, with currently seven organisations applying to run the certification scheme.
According to the ODPM, the approved schemes should begin to operate form October 2006, with qualified, certified Home Inspectors able to register the Home Condition report and deliver authorised reports to consumers.
At the same time, it says a rigorous testing process will be put in place with Home Inspectors’ work being assessed through the Certification schemes and consumers will be surveyed to ensure they understand the contents of the Pack and the Report to allow them to use the information effectively.
The ODPM claims between 5,000 and 7,400 full-time Home Inspectors will be required to complete an estimated 1.44 million Home Condition reports each year, as a result over 4,000 people have already begun training to gain the Home Inspector qualification.
This month will also see the beginning of the HIP advertising campaign, with advertisements placed in trade and online media, designed to raise awareness of the new arrangements among estate agents, solicitors, mortgage lenders, surveyors and Pack providers.
The campaign plans to be extended later in the year to inform and educate homeowners and first-time buyers as to what they will need to do, as the implementation date for HIPs draws nearer.
To help consumers and the industry, the ODPM has set up a dedicated website to HIPs, which aims to provide detailed, up-to-date information, including case studies, leaflets, newsletters and event details.
And from January 2007, lenders will be able to obtain Home Condition Reports electronically from a register, to use them for valuation assessments as part of their lending decisions.
Cooper points out the current system isn’t fair on buyers or sellers, as £1m is wasted every day when sales fall through and too many buyers and sellers face real headaches when it turns out they were misled or that problems emerge when its too late.
She adds: “HIPs have been long called for by consumer groups to give people reliable information at the beginning of the process. Now the dry-run will make sure tat all aspects of the Packs are properly tested before being fully introduced next year.”
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Nyree Stewart on 020 7968 4558 or email [email protected]IFAonline
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