The RICS has stepped back from endorsing Sir Bryan Carsberg’s recommendation to scrap home information packs in their current form, writes Michael Glackin.
In a review of the residential property market commissioned by the RICS and published on Monday, the former head of the Office of Fair Trading (pictured) said the introduction of Hips had failed to improve the home-buying process and should no longer be compulsory.
The RICS said the review should form the basis of a reform of the sector. But when asked if it supported the changes to Hips recommended by the review, a spokesperson said: “It’s an independent report … We’re not saying the government has to implement the recommendations. The RICS has worked hard to ensure Hips are a better package.”
Carsberg insisted Hips offered the “worst of all worlds” because the packs failed to give potential buyers useful information and sellers had to pay about £350 to provide them.
This is the latest blow for the policy. The original launch last year was postponed, just days before the packs were due to become law, because of a lack of accredited assessors.
The RICS also sought a judicial review against the communities department for its failure to carry out proper consultation on the issue. The RICS eventually agreed the action should be stayed.
Carsberg’s criticism centred on the lack of buyers showing an interest in the packs and the number of conveyancers to commission their own research, despite Hips being compulsory.
He said: “Even if they were to become more comprehensive, there appears to be a strong likelihood that delays between the preparation of the pack and exchange of contracts would mean that much of the information would be out of date by the time it was to be used.”
He said Hips should be made voluntary, so they could evolve into something that consumers would willingly purchase.
Carsberg said developers, housebuilders, estate agents and letting agents should be regulated by a professional body similar to the Financial Services Authority, which would have the power to ban individuals.
Ian Baker, managing director of Galliford Try Homes said: “We welcome the proposed regulatory scheme. As an industry we are already working towards the introduction of clearer and more robust standards.”
More on home information packs at www.building.co.uk/archive
What Carsberg says
- Developers and housebuilders should be subject to a new regulatory scheme that will protect consumers buying
- Government should make home information packs voluntary
- Regulations requiring the production of surveys, home condition reports or valuation reports at particular times should end