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Homebuyers need information "they know they can trust"

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has stressed that homebuyers need information they know they can trust rather than documents forced upon them by the Government.

His comments were based on research which showed that the public had never trusted Home Information Packs (HIPs). A survey carried out by Ipsos Mori found that while nearly everyone buying a house wanted information about its condition, fewer than one in six trusted information that was provided by the seller as part of a HIP.

It said that most experienced buyers preferred to get an informal inspection by an expert they knew rather than rely on HIPs.

Mr Shapps said the research, which was commissioned by the Department for Local Government and Communities last year, showed that the Government was right to scrap HIPs within days of coming to power in May.

He said: "People who buy and sell homes want to know more about their condition, but forcing them to swap bits of information they don't want or trust is a foolish way to try and improve the property market.

"That's why in future this information will be provided on a strictly voluntary basis. We will allow the housing sector to develop products that include the information consumers actually want, and that they can rely on when buying a home."

Many professional groups including the Law Society and the Buildings Society Association have already held meetings to discuss ways of improving the housing market for consumers.

The Law Society is proposing a system in which solicitors prepare a "complete and comprehensive" set of documents about a property for sale which can then be presented to potential buyers. It believes that as solicitors are highly regulated, the public will have more confidence in the documentation they provide.

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