Somewhere back in the mists of time (well, 10 years ago!), a politician lost the sale of his house as a result of something nasty turning up in a survey that caused his purchaser to pull out of the deal at the last minute.
As a result, he had a brainwave – if everyone knew about the condition of the property before they made an offer, sales would be more secure, and there would be no last-minute renegotiation. If, in addition, all the legal documents relating to the sale could be assembled before the property was marketed, transfers would be quicker and less stressful.
Thus was born the Sellers Pack, now know as the Home Information Pack (HIP) for home owners in England and Wales.
Since that early concept, the Pack has been through many changes, some practical, some political, so that what we have now is what can only be described as a ‘dog’s breakfast’, satisfying neither the prospect of speed nor that of transparency.
Gone is the Home Condition Report, the pre-marketing survey of the property, which would enable prospective purchasers to budget for any necessary repairs and enter into the agreement with their eyes open. What was trumpeted as the centrepiece of the Pack was relegated last year to an optional extra, inviting a vendor to spend £300+ for the privilege of providing a wart-and-all picture of his or her property to all and sundry, with no material benefit to the sales process.
Ironically, the reason that this feature of the Pack was dropped, the lack of adequate numbers of Home Inspectors to undertake the inspections, has now been resolved by the passage of time, as many trainee Home Inspectors have now completed their courses and are now wondering what to do with their newly and expensively acquired skills.
Also gone is the need for all the relevant legal documents to be in place before the property is marketed. All a vendor has to show is that the Pack has been commissioned, so it is quite feasible for a property to be sold before it materialises.
All that is left, and the only true reason for the Government’s insistence in continuing with the shell of their original proposals, is the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), a document required to satisfy it’s commitment to EU Directives to assess the energy performance of it’s housing stock, and to monitor improvements in emissions relating to housing.
The fact that the Directive only requires the energy performance of a property to be assessed every 10 years, and that the making of this assessment could be made at any time during the sales process (e.g. as part of a mortgage valuation inspection), does not appear to make any difference to the attitude of Ministers, who seem set on imposing this legislation piecemeal, with a total disregard for the representations of stakeholders.
However, one thing is certain – whatever those in the property industry think of these proposals, the house-buying and selling public has absolutely no idea what is going on!
David Dalby is Chief Surveyor at Advantage
Views expressed in this blog are those of the individual and not the company they represent.
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