When Communities Secretary Eric Pickles gave Home Information Packs (HIPs) the red-card last month, most people involved in the property industry – buyers and sellers included – gave a huge sigh of relief.
HIPs were introduced in 2007 in a bid to bring clarity to the home moving process. But in my opinion, and that of many other property professionals, they only added an extra layer of bureaucracy to what can often be an already stressful process.
Now the home moving experience has been streamlined once again, I am confident that it will encourage property owners to dip their toe in the water and test the market.
There does seem to be proof that this is already happening. In the last week, national estate agency Countrywide has issued findings showing new instructions rose by 34% in the week after HIPs were abolished, and property portal Rightmove.co.uk is also reporting a ‘surge’ in properties coming onto the market.
Rightmove said listings on its website had soared significantly by 35% in the seven days after the Government said it was scrapping the controversial packs with immediate effect.
So, while HIPs have been shown the door, we now revert to the old system where conveyancing solicitors prepare the searches and other documents required for a property sale, including the Energy Performance Certificate, the only part of the HIP to remain.
The EPC is still a European requirement and provides useful information on the energy efficiency of a property in much the same way as we see ratings on domestic appliances.
The EPC doesn’t have to be prepared before the home goes on the market though, it just has to be commissioned, and it’s important to order an EPC through a reputable solicitor and be prepared to pay a modest sum upfront (between £50 - £100).
There are some companies offering ‘free’ EPCs, but movers should beware, as they could then be tied into using a pre-selected solicitor and they may pay commission on top of their fees, meaning they could end up paying more overall.
Stephensons has been helping local people move home for more than thirty years and provides the complete conveyancing service, including the Energy Performance Certificates which are still required.