The beleaguered home information packs (Hips) are back in the news as mortgage lenders said yesterday they might not accept a crucial part of the report. Several lenders have insisted that homebuyers would have to pay up to £200 for their own local authority searches, as those provided in the packs were not necessarily underwritten by a solicitor. A spokesperson from HSBC, one of the lenders critical of the personal land search, said: ‘If someone wants to buy a house from someone who has a HIP containing a personal local search, we would tell their solicitor we would not lend to them unless they commissioned their own search’. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors claims that sales of four-bedroom houses have dropped dramatically since their introduction on 1 August. Hips are being extended to three-bedroom homes on 10 September.
A report by Help the Aged has called for the government to help fund a network of ‘handypeople’ who can perform basic home improvement tasks for the elderly to enable them to stay independent for longer, and reduce their need to get social or residential care in the long term. Fitting a bath rail for example could improve the lives of many older people who have trouble washing themselves and reduce the risk of falls or hospitalisation.
Childhood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either, according to a report by the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), which found that children are at risk from poor local development. The report recommends that housing and schools should be built away from pollution and noise ‘hotspots’ and include an traffic free area given over to parkland. The report, Every Child Matters, argues that a child’s wellbeing cannot be met without considering the environment.
The credit crisis appears to be worsening in the US. The number of repossessions in the states soared in July, an increase of 93 per cent on the same month last year, and a 9 per cent rise on June’s figures – one in 693 households filed for foreclosure in July. Falling sales and decreasing prices have made it harder for homeowners to sell their homes and clear their debts.