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AHIPP to call for Government investigation into Zoopla

The Association of Home Information Pack Providers will next week call on the Government to outlaw Zoopla’s Tempt Me service, which it alleges allows private listings.

Speaking exclusively to The Negotiator, Mike Ockenden, director general of AHIPP, says he will also lobby Trading Standards over fears that vendors will be able to market properties without a HIP.

“There is no doubt that it is inviting people to market their properties on the site,” he says.

First day marketing came into force on April 6 and requires a HIP, including a Property Information Questionnaire, to be in place before a property can be marketed.

A number of industry players insist that agents can tip off hot buyers about the location, but not the exact address, of new instructions without being in breach of the HIP Regulations.

Prospective buyers can use the Temp Me button on Zoopla's site to make an offer on a property via the 27 million UK postcodes to which the portal claims to provide access.

This is the second attack on the service. Zoopla first came under fire about it from the National Association of Estate Agents, as The Negotiator exclusively revealed on February 26.

Alex Chesterman (pictured), chief executive of Zoopla, says: “It is an innovative community feature that allows inactive property owners to share the hypothetical price at which they might consider selling - their dream price in effect. It is no different to a casual conversation between neighbours over the fence or between friends in the pub indicating the figure that might tempt them - a conversation we have all probably had at some point.

“It is targeted at owners who might be thinking about selling at some point in the future and allows them to test the waters. The requirement for a HIP begins once the owner has decided that they actually want to market a property for sale, not when they start thinking about the fact they might sell and the price they would be keen achieve one day.”

But Alex Clark, a director of law firm Enact, says: "There is no testing the water: you are either selling a property or you’re not. The Housing Act 2004 makes it quite clear that a residential property is put on the market when the fact that it is, or may become available for sale is, made public in England and Wales by or on behalf of the seller with the intention of marketing the property.

"A fact is made public when it is advertised or otherwise communicated, in whatever form and by whatever means, to the public or to a section of the public."

He adds: "The reality of the situation is that a property is being offered for sale to a section of the public.”

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