A third of Home Information Packs checked by Birmingham’s official consumer watchdog did not come up to scratch, it has been revealed.
Birmingham Trading Standards officials checked the home sellers packs, known as HIPs, for 40 properties and found 13 were rated as unsatisfactory or worse.
Two of the estate agents checked were unable to provide HIPs at all and have been fined and referred to the Office of Fair Trading.
Results showed that 26 estate agents’ HIPs were rated as satisfactory or reasonable and one property had been on the market for so long it did not require a HIP.
Trading Standards are now warning home buyers to be wary of the information. Those firms which subscribe to the HIP and Search Code of Practice fared much better in the survey with 87 per cent compliance.
The HIPs were controversially introduced in 2007 to provide a range of information for purchasers including the results of land searches and the energy efficiency of a property, in a bid to speed up the purchase.
As well as the accuracy of information, the survey looked at whether it met with regulations, contained the required documents and was provided in a reasonable time.
The most common faults were that there was no information on complaints procedure and technical issues with the search.
Chris Neville, head of Trading Standards, said: “The exercise shows that the market is generally compliant, but buyers should be aware that not all HIPs can be taken at face value as being accurate. Birmingham Trading Standards will keep a watchful eye on the estate agent and HIP provider market, and we urge buyers to contact us if HIPs are not made available by estate agents at the time of marketing.
"To avoid any confusion over the accuracy of information provided in a HIP, we recommend that both buyers and estate agents should choose a HIP Code registered firm, as our survey has found these to be the most trustworthy.”
Birmingham Trading Standards will now formally contact the estate agents, HIP providers and search firms involved in the survey to inform them of their individual results.
Any companies not compliant will be asked to take corrective action as a matter of urgency.