Why 80 per cent of buyers can't be bothered with home information packs

Last updated at 00:10 07 March 2008

Home Information Packs have been savaged in a report commissioned by the Government.

The study said homebuyers either ignored or mistrusted the documents. Ministers had delayed until yesterday publication of the report, which was an evaluation of a trial of HIPs which ended nearly a year ago.

Around 80 per cent of buyers were found not to have asked for a pack before making an offer for a property.

Nearly 60 per cent disagreed with the statement that "having the HIP sped up the buying process".

Asked whether they trusted the dossier, some 20 per cent said "very little" or "not at all".

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And nearly 80 per cent of owners said they did not think the HIP helped to sell their property.

It also emerged yesterday that the packs - which cost around £400 - have added nearly £45million to the combined cost of homes sold in the past nine months.

Grant Shapps, Tory housing spokesman, said: "These results reveal what we and the industry have known all along.

"HIPs are a complete waste of time. It is proving to be a very costly and bureaucratic farce.

"The HIP hasn't made the process quicker or more certain. It has simply made it more expensive and choked in paperwork.

"It is time this Government scrapped HIPs once and for all."

The packs were Labour's big idea for speeding up home-buying.

Covering local authority searches and proof of ownership, they also contain an energy performance certificate which gives a "green" rating to all homes.

This element - the only new feature in a HIP - typically costs a seller £117.

More than 370,000 packs have been issued since their introduction last summer.

The packs were supposed to be brought in last June but this date was moved to December for houses with no more than three bedrooms.

Lembit Opik, Liberal Democrat housing spokesman, said: "Even the Government's own research shows that HIPs aren't working as they should.

"Why weren't these facts made public before the national roll-out?"

Caroline Flint, the housing minister, said a public awareness campaign has been launched since the trials and that estate agents had been reminded of their duty to hand out the packs.

She said the study, carried out by Ipsos MORI and covering 2,600 HIPs, indicated that 72 per cent of sellers were satisfied with the information in the dossiers.

"Search costs are falling as a result of increased transparency in the market," she added.

"However, what is clear from the trials is that more buyers wanted to see the HIP but it was not always made available to them."

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