The stability of the housing market and the entire economy could be hit by new laws forcing home sellers to pay up to #1,000 before putting their property on the market, a top M idlands businessman warned yesterday.
Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the Warwick-based National Association of Estate Agents, spoke out over the controversial Home Information Packs (HIP) - due to come into force in June 2007,
New research shows most property owners are against the estimated #600 to #1,000 cost of HIP.
But they will be compulsory from June 1 2007 and already there are warnings that many sellers will, as a result, think twice before advertising their home.
With the help of an independent research company, the NAEA surveyed 1,295 adults throughout England and Wales and hardly any felt the projected cost of the packs was justified.
The Government's guideline cost for collating the pack is between #600 and #1,000 and, according to the NAEA, one of the most alarming findings from the research is that a mere 4.5 per cent of respondents felt paying more than #500 to compile HIP was reasonable.
And 39 per cent believed the HIP should cost nothing at all.
Mr Bolton King said: "The Government claims the HIP will be cost neutral.
"This cannot be the case when only 20 per cent of buyers currently bother with any form of survey. It is clear that many people are concerned about this additional cost."
Once the HIPs are introduced, homeowners could be forced to wait up to 14 days while the pack is prepared before being legally allowed to market their property for sale.
Only 13 per cent thought this was acceptable and almost half (47.9 per cent) felt they should be able to market their home immediately.
Buyers and sellers were both apprehensive about this delay. Almost 60 per cent of respondents believe the wait will cause them to miss out on prospective buyers, while 42 per cent are concerned that it will prevent them from buying the property they want.
Mr Bolton King added: "First day marketing is a fundamental right for every home owner and its removal will have a huge impact.
"Time and time again we h ave been telling the Government that the lack of first day marketing will affect housing supply, the overall stability of the housing market in general and the entire economy. This latest survey emphatically confirms that consumers also believe this."
A further statistic of considerable concern to the NAEA is that 73 per cent of homeowners said they would think twice about marketing their home for sale as a result of the mandatory cost and delay caused by HIPs.
Mr Bolton King added: "A very real consequence of this could be an increase in prop-erty values, which would further stunt the growth of the housing market."
Almost half the adults surveyed were completely unaware of HIPs and their consequences.
Mr Bolton King added: "This is of extreme concern to us, as HIPs will become mandatory in just fifteen months time and will increase substantially the cost of selling a home. Clearly the Government has a long road ahead in terms of communicating to the public."
Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said: "Home Information Packs, which have long been called for by consumer groups, will cut costs not increase them."
But Caroline Spelman, the Tory shadow minister for local government and communities, said: "The packs will do nothing to stop gazumping or speed up the actual process of buying a house."