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HIPs providers look to Plan B

publication date: Jun 1, 2010
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Stuart Pearce
Property information providers are now looking to implement their ‘Plan B’ signaling their intention to survive the HIP suspension bombshell.

PROPERTYdrum spoke to Stuart Pearce, Managing Director of  MDA Information Products. "MDA is a highly diversified organisation. We continue to be the market leader for electronic due diligence property searches and have an ongoing programme of new services that we continue to bring to market. We look forward to responding flexibly to the inevitable market changes that this announcement brings.

"This marks the close of another chapter in the story of property information and it is vital that we collectively learn from the HIPs experience. It’s now up to the industry to bring forward fresh solutions to improve the property transaction process."

Meanwhile, The National EPC Company, formerly EPC Assessments Ltd, supplied 85,000 residential and commercial EPCs last year to nationwide clients including Sainsbury’s and Superdrug and estate agency chains such as Spicerhaart and Connells.

The company has re-branded ahead of an expected increase in demand for its services.
Prior to the election, The Conservatives proposed the Green Deal initiative; a £20bn investment into home energy, a policy maintained by the new coalition.

The National EPC Company’s MD, Marc Blomfield, believes this will lead to millions of homeowners requiring energy performance advice.

Marc said, "Green Deal, if this is how the policy will be known, will offer every home in Britain up to £6,500 worth of energy efficiency improvements at no upfront cost, with a higher limit for hard-to-treat homes. Householders will be entitled to an independent home assessment to identify the best opportunities to increase energy efficiency. The cost of work will be re-paid by the resultant savings on energy bills.
Quest, is urging the government to consider adopting a version of the Scottish Home Report in England and Wales.

Home Reports are currently used in Scotland and include a single survey, which is carried out by a RICS chartered surveyor and provides details on the condition and value of the property, an EPC and a property questionnaire. The Scottish system has been in place for over a year and has been very well received by the industry by providing consumers with better information at the right time, whilst not impacting the speed in which properties can be marketed.

According to Quest, any new solution should also include flood risk data in response to recommendations in DEFRA’s Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and Sir Michael Pitt’s flood review. Making homebuyers more aware of a property’s flood risk will assist them in making better informed purchases.

Providing better information at the right time means legal searches should be excluded and returned to the end of the process for legal professionals to manage, once a buyer is in a financial position to proceed with their purchase. Due to delays in obtaining Local Authority searches HIPs are often not available within 28 days; the new proposed solution would reduce turnaround to four days.

Certification Schemes BRE, SAVA & RICS were established to manage Home Inspectors on behalf of CLG for the implementation of Home Condition Reports. There are currently circa 1000+ Qualified or Accredited inspectors which, when combined with the already qualified RICS surveyors, can deliver the entire proposed solution. This would therefore mean only one surveyor is then required to visit the property to conduct the EPC and Condition Survey in a single inspection rather than two.

James Sherwood-Rogers, Managing Director, Quest said, "There would be real advantages of incorporating the contents of the Home Report in this new solution for England and Wales to deliver true transparency to consumers. It is also important to point out that there would be little cost difference for consumers, as the introduction of a condition survey would be in place of the legal searches. By adopting this tried and tested solution, we believe the new Government can quickly implement a solution that results in minimal disruption to the home buying and selling process, whilst maximising benefits for the consumer."