The Lowdown On Home Information Packs

by : Thomas Pretty

For years the property market has been criticised for being inefficient and slow; it is now hoped that the introduction of home information packs will be able to speed up the process and in general make it clearer for both buyers and sellers. But what information does the home information pack contain? How will they help the property market and where can you get them from?

Fundamentally home information packs will contain the following information and documents. The terms of sale and evidence of title will both be included as will details of any planning proposals and building regulations relating to the property. As well as these pieces of information, guarantees of work performed on the property and an energy efficiency report will also be included. By ensuring that this information is presented in one document it is hoped that those buying property will be given a clearer picture of the property they are buying, detailing all relevant information.

The hope is that home information packs will ensure that both those buying and selling property are supplied with as much information as possible. The belief is that with all this information in black and white, mortgage proposals will be sped up and delays in securing sales will be reduced. The government somewhat optimistically has estimated that home information packs could decrease the average time from offer to completion to half the current figure. The cost of a pack is likely to cost around six hundred pounds; this fee however will be paid by the buyer and not the seller.

The benefits that the packs will bring include helping the seller decide on a reasonable and realistic asking price. As well as the information being provided it is believed that they will also reduce the chances of sales being renegotiated due to unexpected changes caused by the late disclosure of information. The shortening of the time between acceptance of an offer to the time of completion is however the main objective of the new legislation.

The production of the pack will be the responsibility of the person putting the property on the market. Normally this will fall under the tasks performed by the estate agent although with the increasing numbers of people selling privately over the internet, homeowners themselves may have to compile the information. There are however exemptions to the need for a pack; fundamentally if a property is not being put on the open market a pack will not be needed. Circumstances when this may be the case include if a property is being sold within a family or to neighbours in a private sale.

From August the packs will be deemed a necessity by law. However, not producing a pack for a property will not be deemed a criminal offence. Despite this, failure to produce the pack will be enforced along civil sanctions. Sellers may be liable for a two hundred pound fine from the Trading Standards Authority. As well as this though, sellers who do not produce a pack leave themselves open to lawsuits from prospective buyers.

The government initiative to have a home information pack included in the sale of every property will hopefully make the process of buying and selling property easier. Debate rages however how effective they will be; while the plan is to reduce the period between offer acceptance and eventual sale, experts consider it a possibility that delays will become apparent elsewhere in the process. As a relatively new addition to the property market legislation already in existence, only time will tell on how effective home information packs will be.