One of the leading champions of home information packs (HIPs) has announced it is to cease its investment in the initiative with immediate effect.
Rightmove, a major online property website, said in a statement this morning that it would not spend the £22 million it had planned on investing in HIPs. So far it has only spent £7 million of that sum.
"Further to its announcement of July 19th, Rightmove today announces its intention to discontinue its investment in HIPs. This decision follows a board review initiated last week in response to the change to HIPs," Rightmove said.
Today's announcement will come as a blow for supporters of the HIP scheme, which has been reeling in recent days after housing and planning minister Yvette Cooper revealed last week that a key element of HIPs, home condition reports (HCRs), would not be mandatory.
Despite lobbying bodies like the Association of Home Information Pack Providers (AHIPP) insisting that the measure will eventually be fully implemented, the withdrawal of a substantial investment from Rightmove is a major setback to the eventual complete adoption of the government's proposals.
Mike Ockenden, AHIPP director general, yesterday insisted that the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) was wrong that there were insufficient qualified home inspectors, pointing out that 4,400 are currently in training and will complete their qualifications by next year's implementation date.
But Rightmove's investment withdrawal is likely to turn the CML's fears into a self-fulfilling prophecy as home inspector training numbers are reduced.
Today's decision by Rightmove will be welcomed by critics of the government's HIPs scheme, who fear that they could stifle housing demand by reducing incentives for sellers, who will have to pay for an HIP. It is currently up to the buyer to commission a survey.
HIPs are due to be introduced, with energy efficiency certificates intact, on July 1st next year.