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12 March 2010

Research finds 30% providing unsatisfactory Hips

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by Kay Mitchell

Research finds 30% providing unsatisfactory Hips

The controversial Home Information Packs (Hips) have hit the headlines again this week after research found that 70% (26 Hips in total) were rated satisfactory or reasonably satisfactory, while 30% (11 Hips) rated unsatisfactory when measured against Hip regulations.

The research conducted by Trading Standards at Birmingham City Council, in conjunction with the Property Codes Compliance Board (PCCB), is the most comprehensive estate agent and Hip enforcement exercise yet by any Trading Standards authority nationally.

According to the Government, Hips were introduced to speed up the home buying and selling process. A Hip has to be in place before a property in England and Wales can be put on the open market for sale

However, the packs have long been branded “a waste of time” by critics since their inception in August 2007 and can cost anywhere in the region of between £200 and £400.

Many said they contributed to the fall in house prices in the latter part of 2007 and 2008, and many estate agents have frequently called on the Government to review the packs.

In the meantime, the research examined a quarter of the estate agent market within the Birmingham boundary.

Teams of Trading Standards staff were sent to previously identified estate agents, selecting properties being marketed and requesting the packs to be sent to Trading Standards.

Trading Standards found the most common problems were: no information on complaint / redress procedure, no consumer information, no company contact details, technical issues with the search and Hip Index related issues.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Neville, Head of Trading Standards at Birmingham City Council, said: “The exercise shows that the market is generally compliant, but buyers should be aware that not all Hips can be taken at face value as being accurate.

“Birmingham Trading Standards will keep a watchful eye on the estate agent and Hip provider market, and we urge buyers to contact us if Hips are not made available by estate agents at the time of marketing.”

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