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Experts defend home pack.

Byline: By John Duckers Business Editor

An internet company has hit back at criticism of new laws for buying and selling homes.

Legal experts at Coventry-based Rapidmove rejects claims that the changes could leave house buyers worse off than under the current regime and susceptible to cowboy operators.

The Housing Act 2004 will require all residential sellers to have a Home Information Pack containing complete information about a property before it can be put on the market.

It will become a legal requirement on June 1, 2007. Home inspectors will carry out the surveys, producing a Home Condition Report (HCR). Rapidmove technical director Tricia Lawlor said: "It is completely wrong to say, as some people have, that a buyer cannot rely upon an HCR and that they are put together by cowboys.

"The vast majority of home inspectors are chartered surveyors, building inspectors or structural engineers. Reports are carried out on a property, without a valuation, and details its condition as would be similar to current survey procedures and therefore every home inspector's reputation and his indemnity insurance will be at risk.

"There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that home inspectors will compile a report based upon what the seller wants them to say, which is frankly ludicrous."

But she admitted there was "likely to be HIP providers who materialise who have no legal training and who are not professionals".

That, she said, would be "a worry".

Mrs Lawlor claimed the new regime would be far more suited to the modern way of life of many people.

She said: "Many people have extremely busy lives and the sooner they can secure an exchange and plan a suitable completion, the better"Our own client base, from private sellers to property developers, have overwhelmingly expressed a view that they would gladly pay a little more for a controlled, speedy transaction which exchanges significantly earlier than the usual six to ten weeks as currently applies. We believe if a buyer has finance in place an exchange is possible within two to three weeks of the property being marketed.

"Scare stories have been circulated indicating that sellers will have to pay pounds 1,000 more than the usual costs incurred in a property transaction. The cost of an HIP for most freehold properties is likely to be between pounds 700 and pounds 750 but this includes the legal title, which would usually be prepared by solicitors or conveyancers, searches and an HCR.

"The actual additional costs we have calculated are around pounds 175 if you take into account that buyers would normally pay at the very least for a valuation of their new property even if they did not obtain a detailed Home Buyers Report.

"We as lawyers are at the sharp end and regularly witness time and money wasted by speculative sellers, timewasters, unprofessional estate agents and conveyancers failing to guide sellers and buyers, and buyers who clearly have financial difficulties who could not obtain a mortgage and have little chance of ever exchanging contracts. The seller would be able to identify these problems earlier and could avoid getting involved with such buyers or their representatives.

"Although there will be teething problems in the early stages, the process is worthwhile and it is time that we had a professional, controlled and efficient service to provide at a realistic cost to consumers


Rapidmove technical director Tricia Lawlor
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 19, 2005
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