Calls mount to bin Scotland's version of Home Information Packs

JUL 03, 2013 ‹ back to news & views

Calls are mounting for the urgent reform of Home Reports – the Scottish equivalent of Home Information Packs.

Estate Agency Today 3 July 2013

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In an all-too familiar ring, the critics say they are strangling the property market by cutting down transactions and reducing prices.

Estate agents and lenders have united in demanding a rethink.

Home Reports came in five years ago, and like HIPs demand upfront information to be provided by the seller. Unlike HIPs, they contain a property valuation, and this must be redone every three months that the property remains unsold. This requirement alone results in sellers running up fresh bills the longer the property stays on the market.

According to David Mackie, of the NAEA in Scotland, the measure has reduced the number of properties coming on to the market, with sellers not prepared to pay hundreds of pounds upfront.

Nor are buyers prepared to pay the valuation given in the Home Report. Mackie says they are typically offering 10% less, while minor defects shown in the Home Report are deterring viewings altogether.

According to Kennedy Foster, policy consultant in Scotland for the Council of Mortgage Lenders, a review is urgently needed.

He said: “The Home Report was designed for a buoyant housing market – clearly not what we’re in now.”

Scottish Tory housing spokesman Alex Johnstone said: “It’s patently obvious Home Reports aren’t fit for purpose and just another barrier to people selling their properties. I’m interested to hear these calls from the industry, because we opposed their introduction from the outset.”

However, the RICS in Scotland continues – perhaps not surprisingly – to support Home Packs, of which a survey is a critical component.

Scottish RICS director Sarah Speirs said: “The Home Report is not restricting the market, but providing purchasers with detailed information to ensure they are fully aware of all the facts relating to condition and value before committing themselves to what is probably the largest financial decision they will make.
 
“It has also been well received by sellers as they view it as a positive marketing tool with no hidden surprises when it comes to progressing an offer.”