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Beware 'Free' Home Pack Offers


House sellers were warned today about misleading offers of 

'FREE' Home Information Packs from estate agents.

Agents were accused of using the packs, which have to be provided on all homes put up for sale after 1st August 2007, to lock in clients to sole agency deals.

The packs, which will include basic information about a property, local searches and an energy-efficiency report, are expected to cost £400-£600 to compile.

Several well-known estate agents, including Hamptons International and Douglas & Gordon, have said they will not charge customers for providing a HIP.


But the Law Society, which has been scathing of the Government's introduction of the packs, today warned that sellers may be saddled with a large fee if they take their home off the market or move to another agency.

Deputy vice-chairman Paul Marsh said: 'Say you go to an estate agency and they agree to pay for the HIP but you want to move to another agent - you ought to be able to take it with you for nothing, not pay a £500 exit fee. Consumers need to be very careful and look at the small print.'

Mr Marsh said homeowners who switch agents might also have to pay for a new HIP as one firm might not accept a pack compiled by a competitor. 'It is an absolute minefield that the Government has opened up,' he added

Mr Marsh recommended using a solicitor to compile a pack, rather than an estate agent. 'Then you own it, you can take it wherever you like,' he said.

However, agents rejected any suggestion they were 'ripping off' clients and said any fee would only cover costs.

A spokeswoman for Hamptons International said: 'Fees will only apply if the client chooses to withdraw the property from sale within 12 months from the date of instruction or change the basis upon which they instruct us. When this is the case, the client will only pay back exactly what Hamptons paid for the HIP and this will transfer the ownership so they can use that HIP with their chosen agent. There is absolutely no additional cost.'

Jeff Doble, of Dexters, said the Law Society's attack aimed to divert attention from solicitors' own failings. He said: 'To be saying people ought to go to solicitors for HIPs is a bit off. The Law Society and its membership have been unable to improve the speed and efficiency of the conveyancing process over the past 10 years, despite the advent of email.'

Mr Doble said agents would be able to buy HIPs 'in bulk' reducing the price to as little as 'a few hundred pounds'.



‘….the HiP Association Group, the Home Information Pack provider for the Buyer, the Seller & the Estate Agent’  



National Association of Registered Home Inspectors

National Association of Registered Home Inspectors