Q. Can I now put my home on the market without a Home Information Pack?

ASK THE EXPERT


A. Indeed you can. According to the announcement made jointly last week by Eric Pickles, the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and Housing Minister Grant Shapps, compulsory HIPs are now a thing of the past. Or, to be more exact, they have been suspended with immediate effect, pending the introduction in due course of new legislation to abolish them altogether.

So, no more having to fork out hundreds of pounds upfront for a HIP. No more having to wait for anything up to 5 working days for the thing to be compiled before your agent could start marketing your home (on pain of a fine). Admittedly, you will still have to have an Energy Performance Certificate, or EPC, since these are a requirement of EU law (and of course, we all want to save the planet, don’t we?) However, all that’ll be needed is proof that one has been commissioned. And since an EPC on its own will probably cost somewhat less than £100, this shouldn’t present any obstacle to your home being put on the market straight away.

So ends arguably one of the most ill-conceived and poorly-executed episodes in the history of the housing market. And yet things might have been very different. After all, most people both inside and outside the property industry agree that some reform of the buying and selling process is badly needed in order to make the whole thing quicker, more transparent and more certain. Next time, however, let’s hope that the Government thinks things through rather better, and takes a little more notice of the opinions of those who actually know what they’re talking about!

Meanwhile… it is, of course, impossible to tell for sure how much of a dampening effect HIPs had on the property market during their brief existence - over and above the wider effects of the credit crunch. Nevertheless, by doing away with all the extra cost and hassle at a stroke, this Government’s prompt action should definitely help put the current recovery on a sounder footing. And that has got to be good news for everyone.