The Scottish version of the home information pack launched at the start of the month. Is it any better than the much derided English and Welsh version?`
The home report was introduced on 1 December 2008. It is part of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 and will be legally required by a seller wishing to put their home on the market.
it aims to provide better information to purchasers on a property’s condition and, it is hoped, will in time improve the quality of private housing stock in Scotland.
What's in the report?The report comprises of three elements; the single survey and valuation, the energy report and the property questionnaire. RICS Scotland the CML have come together to ensure that a generic mortgage valuation report is also provided. The MVR is not a prescribed document and must only be included if requested by the seller at the beginning of the process. This is a great example of the industry and the profession working together to resolve a potential stumbling block and provide the consumer with the all the information that they need at the start of the process.
Additional consumer protection has been guaranteed through a section 104 order which allows the purchaser and the seller to sue the surveyor should he/she be found negligent in any way. Combine this with PII cover, complaints handling procedures and the Surveyor Ombudsman Scheme, consumer protection for property transactions in Scotland is robust.
RICS Scotland has trained over 700 residential property faculty members on the content of the report and how to complete it objectively.
But, what of the rest of the UK? The home information packs (Hipd) were introduced in England and Wales last year to a hostile reception and the continued uncertainty surrounding them has done little to bolster consumer confidence. The shambolic approach to Hips implementation has left Westminster with egg on its face and an apparent reluctance to solve or implement any practical solutions to help consumers. There are fundamental differences between the two products and here they are at a glance:
Hips vs home reportHome report
Comprises three elements:
• Single survey and valuation
Offers information on 24 separate elements of condition as well as a valuation. Sellers can also choose to have a generic MVR included in the report.
• Energy report
Will show the current carbon emissions resulting directly or indirectly from energy use in the home, and EPC and a ist of recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of the home.
• Property questionnaire
Information of electricity, gas, telephone supply; council tax band etc. To be completed by the seller
Cost: It is anticipated that the home report will cost £500-£700 for an average property in average condition
Home information packs (Hips)
Compulsory documents are:
• An energy performance certificate delivered by a trained energy assessor
• A sales statement
• Evidence of title
• Lease and commonhold documents
• HIP index
There are also some optional documents that can be included, such as home condition reports, a legal summary and home use forms.
Cost: A Hip will cost between £100-£400
The home report does not aim to be the panacea to cure all ills of house buying and selling in Scotland, however, the production of a product which has been evolved over time and has had the input of key stakeholders and the Scottish government, must go some way to ensure that what has been achieved will be a useful product.
TimingThere has been much media speculation over the implementation of the home report at a time when the housing market has slowed. December 2008 was selected as it is traditionally a quieter time for selling houses and it is hoped that will give everyone the chance to get used to the new home report.
In our opinion, delaying the introduction of the home report would do nothing to improve Scotland’s housing market conditions and no one can predict that 2009 would be a better time to bring in the home report instead. The home report is all about helping people make informed choices when purchasing a property and improving the quality of our private housing stock.
The time for arguing the when’s and if’s has long gone. The home report is here and the onus is on the professions involved in the house buying and selling process to pull together to help to restore confidence and provide a quality product for their clients.
Sarah Speirs is head of communications for RICS Scotland