The Coali­tion Gov­ern­ment has sus­pend­ed Home Infor­ma­tion Packs (HIPs) for any­one sell­ing their prop­er­ties from the 21st May 2010.

HIPs were intend­ed to speed up the Con­veyanc­ing process, by being pro­duced before a ven­dor placed their prop­er­ty on the mar­ket with much of the required Con­veyanc­ing infor­ma­tion. Many saw mer­it in the orig­i­nal pro­pos­al but HIPs have remained con­tro­ver­sial since their intro­duc­tion in 2007.

Many would agree that HIPs have in fact delayed the Con­veyanc­ing process, as some HIPs were being pro­duced after prop­er­ties were placed on the mar­ket; some even after prop­er­ties were being sold.

HIPs are often incom­plete, and miss­ing vital and use­ful infor­ma­tion to pur­chasers as a result of cost and time cut­ting, which often leads to delays in the Con­veyanc­ing process. Most HIP pro­duc­ers also include per­son­al search­es on grounds of price, even though these are not accept­ed by the major­i­ty of pur­chasers’ Solicitors.

In Octo­ber 2008, Birm­ing­ham Trad­ing Stan­dards inspect­ed HIPs at 15 Estate agents, ran­dom­ly select­ing 5 for scruti­ny. All con­tained false or mis­lead­ing search infor­ma­tion, and offi­cers sug­gest­ed that pri­vate search com­pa­nies were short-cir­cuit­ing the sys­tem to save money.

Sean Bar­row, a solic­i­tor with 30 years expe­ri­ence, said The ini­tial idea sound­ed great. How­ev­er, in real­i­ty, the required infor­ma­tion to make the packs worth­while was not enforced, and pro­vid­ed no real ben­e­fit to the buy­er at the start, mid­dle or end of the Con­veyanc­ing process.

The oth­er major issue was that most mort­gage lenders either don’t accept per­son­al search­es full stop, or they pass the risk on to the indi­vid­ual solic­i­tor. The cost dif­fer­ence between per­son­al and full search­es is min­i­mal, but this is often the mar­gin which the providers keep as profit.”

Grant Shapps, Con­ser­v­a­tive MP, also high­lights the per­son­al search prob­lem which is para­mount to the HIP deba­cle. Each Search is now dupli­cat­ed; first by the per­son sell­ing their home in order to legal­ly com­ply with HIP law, and then again by the solic­i­tor act­ing on behalf of the per­son buy­ing the property.”

Per­son­al Search­es are search­es cre­at­ed by pri­vate com­pa­nies using infor­ma­tion from the Local Author­i­ties. Full Local Search­es are search­es cre­at­ed by the Local Author­i­ties them­selves, for exam­ple Cheshire East Council.

Jack­son Bar­rett & Gass took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to add val­ue to the packs by adding extra doc­u­ments ear­li­er on in the process such as plan­ning per­mis­sions, guar­an­tees and court pro­ceed­ings, thus ensur­ing the sell­er and pur­chas­er have all the infor­ma­tion required from the out­set. Jack­son Bar­rett & Gass also used full local search­es in their HIPs which won them many plaudits.

Jack­son Bar­rett & Gass became the first Cheshire law firm to win a Law Soci­ety Excel­lence Award for a com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing house sales includ­ing a Home Infor­ma­tion Pack (HIP) of a high stan­dard at a low price, and in doing so, claimed the 2009 Mar­ket­ing & Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Award. They were also named as a final­ist in the Char­tered Insti­tute of Mar­ket­ing Excel­lence Awards 2009.

Mar­ket­ing Man­ag­er, Rick Bar­row, said We are very proud to have tak­en our stance on Home Infor­ma­tion Packs. We saw that HIPs could have worked had the idea been enforced and imple­ment­ed as it should have been by the Labour Gov­ern­ment. The prob­lem with HIPs laid with those putting the packs togeth­er, not the idea.”

The only rem­nant of HIPs is the Ener­gy Per­for­mance Cer­tifi­cate (EPC). The EPC is part of Euro­pean Leg­is­la­tion, the Ener­gy Per­for­mance of Build­ings Direc­tive, which all Euro­pean mem­bers must adopt. The cur­rent Gov­ern­ment decid­ed to incor­po­rate the Direc­tive into their own scheme.