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New trial of home buyer pack scheme.

A trial of new home information packs aimed at reducing the number of collapsed house sales has begun.

The packs, which will become mandatory from June 2007, will provide potential homebuyers with up-front information and an energy efficiency report.

They are aimed at bringing efficiency to the home buying process and cutting the number of transactions which fail late in the day.

But according to opponents, the packs will bring little benefit to the consumer, while at the same time adding to the cost of buying a home.

Earlier this year, Housing Minister Yvette Cooper announced that home condition reports would only be included in HIPs on a voluntary basis.

Trials will take place in Bath, Southampton, Northampton, Huddersfield and Cambridge, with the first rolled out in Newcastle.

The Government has set aside pounds 4 million to be used during the "dry runs", to encourage sellers to take up voluntary packs.

Splinta, a campaign group opposing the introduction of HIPs, has questioned the objectivity and validity of the planned trials, despite Government assurances that they are necessary and will be independently assessed.

And Shadow Local Government Secretary Caroline Spelman said: "This so-called dry run is a sham.

"The controversial packs are so unpopular that the Government is having to give them away - with the taxpayer left footing the bill."

Law firms and estate agents across the Midlands are being urged to embrace a dry run for HIPs this autumn.

Coventry solicitors Button & Co are already successfully using HIPs as part of the house-buying process.

But senior partner Nick Button said: "There is a lot of complacency, particularly since the controversial home condition report element of the pack was dropped, and the perception is that there are many smaller solicitors' firms and estate agents who have taken their eyes off the ball."
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 7, 2006
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