Sunday, 25 October 2009

Death To HIPS?

Estate agents break law on hated HIPs

LABOUR’S hated Home Information Packs have created a “grey market” in housing with estate agents routinely flouting the law to win an instruction.

Ministers hailed the £300-a-time HIPs as a way to speed up sales but critics say they slow the system down.

The National Association of Estate Agents said last night it had received “numerous” complaints from its members that unscrupulous competitors were by-passing HIPs altogether.

Under Labour’s law, homes cannot be marketed for sale until the 32-page HIP form has been completed.

There is growing evidence, however, that many agents are simply sending house hunters round to look at properties without even starting the HIP.

Peter Bolton King, NAEA chief ­executive, said it was “very common” for agents to tell sellers they would sort out the HIP later but “Could we send Mr Smith round tonight?”

In some cases agents and vendors never get round to completing a HIP. In others the form is filled in when the property is all but sold. He said members trying to comply with the law complain that competitors are ­telling people, “Don’t worry about it”. As a result, they lose ­instructions.

He said members caught cheating could face fines or ­expulsion. The ­Tory housing spokesman Grant Shapps said: “This demonstrates how pointless HIPs are. If we win the election next year, HIPs will be history.”

The Sunday Express has revealed that HIPs made a £320million dent in the housing market last year.

Sellers paid for more than 1.1million packs, netting £44million in VAT for the Treasury, yet only 650,000 homes were actually sold.

Hundreds of thousands of home owners with left with worthless HIPS.
A classic example of how to make a bad EU law worse.

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