The nation breathed a sigh of relief when the new government scrapped Home Information Packs (HIPs) a week after the election, private house sales are no longer subject to the bureaucratic nonsense of a scheme that ended up battering hard pressed home sellers, who have also been coping with a harsh housing recession.
There is still a requirement for an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) but at least the cost of that is more modest (from?35 plus VAT, against?350 plus VAT for the disgraced HIPs). And besides, surely it is a good thing that buyers should know they are not buying a clapped out boiler or no insulation in the roof with their dream home.
But what has been the impact on the supply side of the housing market since May 20th?
Well, it seems that in the week after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Housing Minister Grant Shapps (helped by their pal, Location, Location, Location presenter Kirstie Allsopp) formally kicked HIPs into touch, Countrywide, Britain’s biggest and greediest estate agency and property services group, reported a 34% increase in new property registrations in England & Wales in the subsequent seven days! Countrywide also reported that registrations have risen by 68% compared to the same week last year, to levels not seen since September 2007 – the month that the dreaded HIPs were extended to include the sale of three bedroom properties – in fact, all private house sales were effectively included.
Those figures represent an astonishing increase. But I wonder whether it was all because HIPs bit the dust, or because of a number of other factors. Not least getting the election out the way and a new progressive coalition government with a bright new prime minister in place. Optimism is about – it’s Spring! But certainly ditching some red tape so early in the new administration has helped to unblock the moribund housing market and that’s no bad thing.
Of course in the long run HIPs will make not a jot of difference to the overall supply and demand pressures for housing on this little island of ours. The concern is that going from inadequate private house sales supply to over supply so quickly could destabilise a fragile market, and at worst depress prices in the short term. Still, HIPs had to go.
With a small bit of the private house sales market bureaucracy out the way, there will inevitably be a lot more rubbish properties for sale by owners who weren’t that motivated to sell in the first place. This might make it more difficult for owners to sell their houses, since actually whilst supply has strengthened, demand has not. Buyers will now have more choice and sellers may have to be prepared to accept meaner offers. That’s the market for you!
Of course Kirstie and her chums the estate agents want there to be more supply because they get to make more commissions! If you are engaged in promoting private house sales you can avoid fees by listing your home with one of the excellent free listing services online. In the meantime, good luck with your private house sale – with or without HIPs!