Business

Hips change boosts homes for sale, surveyors say

Estate agents in St. Ives
Image caption Most surveyors expect sales to rise in the coming months

More homes are being put up for sale in England and Wales because of the abolition of Home Information Packs (Hips), surveyors say.

The latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) found a "sharp increase" in new instructions from would-be sellers.

Twenty-two per cent more surveyors reported a rise in prices than reported a fall in the three months to May.

However, the number of completed sales fell by 5%, to just 17 per surveyor.

"Surveyors are generally confident that sales will continue to pick up over the summer months," said Rics spokesperson Ian Perry.

"The increase in supply as a result of the the abolition of Hips is helping to support this optimism, despite continuing concerns about mortgage finance.

"A higher level of instructions should, meanwhile, also lead to a flatter trend in house prices in the latter part of the year," he added.

More sales forecast

The suspension of Hips, as a precursor to their abolition, was announced by the new coalition government in May.

They had been introduced in 2007 as a way of speeding up the house buying process, but were described by the new housing minister Grant Shapps as "needless red tape".

Only the requirement for sellers to provide an energy performance certificate will remain.

Nearly three quarters of the surveyors in the latest Rics survey thought that the decision to do away with Hips would lead to more homes coming up for sale in the future, with the average surveyor guessing that the increase in supply would be about 15%.

The May survey also found a slight increase in the balance of surveyors reporting more potential new buyers as well - 10%, up from a positive balance of 9% in April.

Not surprisingly, surveyors also expect completed sales to rise in the coming months.

But activity in the property market has, in fact, been very subdued by historical standards.

Sales across the UK in the first four months of the year were 26% higher than in the same period last year, but were still less than half the level reported in either 2005, 2006 or 2007.

Most surveys, with the exception of the Halifax, say prices have been rising steadily though the first few months of the year.

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