The scrapping of home information packs (HIPs) has had only a ‘marginal’ impact on the beleaguered property market, solicitors said this week, as they predicted that the market will remain slow for the rest of the year.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles, who axed the controversial sellers’ packs in May, said they were ‘stifling a fragile housing market’ and were being suspended to help kick- start a recovery.
But Richard Barnett, chairman of the Law Society conveyancing and land law committee, said the move has had ‘only a marginal impact’ on the property market.
He said that while people wanting to sell their homes will no longer have been deterred by the cost of the pack, the lack of mortgage finance has still kept sales down.
On the future of the property market, Barnett said: ‘It’s hard to predict anything at the moment. The one thing we’ve learned is not to be surprised by being surprised, but everything is triggered by the availability of mortgage finance.’
Law Society property spokesman Paul Marsh said the scrapping of HIPs has had ‘no impact on the market’ so far.
‘There is a suggestion that more homes are coming on to the market possibly due to people wanting to sell properties before capital gains tax goes up, but the market is complex and variable so it’s hard to make overall conjectures,’ he said.
Marsh added: ‘Scrapping HIPs was absolutely the right thing to do - they were a complete irrelevance and served no purpose. Now they’ve gone no one is talking about them.’
Marsh predicted the market would remain tough for the next six months as mortgage lending remained limited.
Nick Salmon, estate agent and founder of anti-HIP campaign group SPLINTA, said: ‘There’s been an increase in the number of properties coming on to the market, a small number of which are due to the absence of HIPs and their associated cost.’
He added: ‘There’s general relief among sellers that they don’t have to shell out for the packs, and since buyers weren’t taking any notice of them anyway, there’s been little net effect of them going.’
But Salmon said the overarching economic problems and lack of mortgage funding means there are fewer buyers in the market. ‘I’d take a very cautious view about how things will go over the coming months.’