Estate agents have called on the Government to urgently review its controversial Home Information Packs (HIPs) in a bid to help the troubled property market.
The new comes come after The Birmingham Post revealed the effects of the economic slowdown has seen the number of mortgage possession orders in Birmingham shoot up by 64 per cent.
The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) said the packs, which were introduced last year, were not fit for purpose and were the wrong answer to simplifying the house buying process.
The group added that the requirement for the packs to include local searches was “madness”, as due to the length of time property is currently taking to sell, the majority of searches were out of date by the time a transaction took place.
As a result it said these searches had to be carried out again at an extra cost.
Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the NAEA, said: “With the economic situation worsening and the property market still suffering, we are calling on the Government to take urgent action on HIPs.
“We have long seen HIPs as not fit for purpose and as the wrong answer to simplifying the house buying process. Quite simply, the Government tried to force ‘square pegs into round holes’ and the slower property market is making this situation worse.”
HIPs were introduced in a bid to speed up the home buying process by providing more of the information that buyers needed upfront.
Mr Bolton King said if the Government was going to continue with the packs, they should include only information that would be of use to buyers.
He said a simplified pack could include a sellers’ questionnaire, an improved Energy Performance Certificate and the Land Registry title and plan.
He claimed that this was the only information that was helpful to consumers and the industry as a whole.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors also called on the Government to reform the packs.
Gillian Charlesworth, RICS director of external affairs, said: “One of the many things the Government needs to do to aid the failing housing market is to fundamentally reform HIPs to ensure that they are fit for purpose for all properties, in all market conditions.
“Consumers are paying for searches twice, because in the current slow market, legal searches are often out of date by the time a sale is agreed.
“These legal documents must be taken out of the packs and left to buyers and their advisers to obtain at the appropriate time during the transaction.”
RICS also called on the Government to drop the requirement for homeowners to have a HIP before they can put their property on the market.
A Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “HIPs are already bringing benefits to consumers by providing important information to help families cut their fuel bills and carbon emissions, and have reduced the price of property searches by increasing transparency in the home-buying and selling process.
“First-time buyers are also receiving the information in the HIP for free, helping to reduce costs for households looking to get on to the property ladder.
“We are continuing to work with stakeholders, including the NAEA, to consider how the home buying and selling process can be improved further, including through enhancing the HIP.”