ASK THE EXPERT

Q. Is it true that the rules governing Home Information Packs are about to change?
A. Yes. Back in December, Housing Minister Margaret Beckett announced two major changes, both of which are due come into effect from April 6th this year.
The first of these changes involves the ending of the temporary provision on so-called First Day Marketing. Basically, the law says that you cannot put your home on the market without a HIP. However, as a purely temporary measure while the new system was bedding in, the Government has up till now allowed marketing to begin as soon as a HIP has been commissioned, instead of having to wait until it is actually ready. This concession comes to an end on 6th April. From that date, it will be illegal to market your home without a completed HIP in place (except for the local searches, for which a 28-day period of grace will still apply).
What does this change mean to you? Well, if you’re in a hurry to get your home on the market, it makes it all the more important to choose an estate agent with the proven ability to deliver fully compliant HIPs in the shortest possible time.
The second major change involves the introduction of a new compulsory ingredient in the HIP – a 6-page Property Information Questionnaire, to be completed by the seller. True to one of the main aims of HIPs – to give buyers access to more information on which to base their purchasing decision – the PIQ will cover issues such as the council tax band, parking arrangements, public utilities, rights of access, any history of damage (for example, through flooding) and details of any changes made to the property.
As I said, these changes are both due to come into force on April 6th, just a few weeks away. Of course, there’s always the chance that they won’t happen – after all, the Government has extended the concession on First Day Marketing several times already. But, as always, the best thing to do is to play safe, and be guided by a reputable, well-established agent.