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Hips are a waste of energy

When home information packs are extended to one-bedroom and two-bedroom properties on December 14, they will be mandatory for all residential properties marketed except newbuild and those sold without vacant possession.

However, most buyers appear to be completely ignoring Hips, although some are using the energy performance certificate as a negotiating tool to try to get a price reduction.

The Government claims that £1m a day is wasted as a result of transactions which do not make it to exchange of contract. However, it has not given an estimate of how much will be wasted as a result of Hips. This will happen from the cost of Hips on properties that fail to sell and the cost of one or more additional searches as a result of the one in the Hip being deemed inadequate by the purchaser’s solicitor, perhaps because it is too old.

Both of these factors will be a particular problem in the current slow market.

The EPC is being forced on us by the EU but much of what is included will be obvious to those buyers interested in energy efficiency and those who are not will ignore it.

When you consider the huge amount of carbon wasted each year by the EU in the pointless exercise of transporting the whole parliament 12 times a year between Brussels and Strasbourg, it is a bit rich for the EU to impose regulations on its citizens designed, probably ineffectively, to reduce carbon emissions without putting its own house in order first.

At its party conference in October, the Conservative party reiterated its intention to abolish mandatory Hips after the next election, assuming of course it wins it, although it will have to retain the EPC. Therefore any business involved in Hips needs to factor this into their forward planning.

Last week the Conservatives launched a Home-Buying Review. Having committed themselves to abolishing Hips, it is sensible to explore alternative ways to improve the process of buying and selling a property.

A key component of this review is that the working group will consist of leading figures from different parts of the process, for example, a solicitor, an estate agent and a mortgage lender.

It will also seek views from any of the public who want to contribute and a website will be set up to gather views from the public and any firms or bodies which want to contribute.

As part of the consultation process, a seminar will be held for any or all of hose taking part in the review to gauge reaction to their initial findings.

This genuine consultation is a refreshingly different approach to that adopted by the Government in the 10-plus years it was plotting to introduce Hips. The Government did consult on Hips but then ignored most of the professional advice and carried on regardless.

When mandatory Hips are abolished, there is no reason why they should not be used by vendors and estate agents who think they add value. They just should not be compulsory.

Ray Boulger is senior technical manager at John Charcol

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