Almost one year after the inti­tal intro­duc­tion of Home Infor­ma­tion Packs (HIPs), there is still the same amount of con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing them.

Many saw mer­it in the orig­i­nal pro­pos­al, but most have been crit­i­cal in how and when they were intro­duced. The mer­it seen was the ben­e­fit to the pur­chas­er as the HIP would pro­vide key infor­ma­tion about the prop­er­ty being pur­chased. HIPs were also pro­posed to be pro­duced before a ven­dor placed their prop­er­ty on the mar­ket, with the inten­tion of speed­ing up Conveyancing.

How­ev­er, nei­ther mate­ri­alised. HIPs are being pro­duced after prop­er­ties are being placed on the mar­ket. Also, most HIP pro­duc­ers include per­son­al search­es on grounds of price, even though these are not accept­ed by most pur­chasers’ Solic­i­tors, and most packs are often miss­ing vital documents.

This week, Birm­ing­ham Trad­ing Stan­dards inspect­ed HIPs at 15 Estate agents, ran­dom­ly select­ing 5 for scruti­ny. All con­tained false or mis­lead­ing search infor­ma­tion. Offi­cers sug­gest­ed that pri­vate search com­pa­nies are short-cir­cuit­ing the sys­tem to save money.

Sean Bar­row, a solic­i­tor with 30 years expe­ri­ence said I’m not even slight­ly sur­prised by the find­ings. Over the past year we have seen a wide range of HIPs from aver­age to woeful.

The worst have includ­ed search­es for the wrong prop­er­ty, title doc­u­ments miss­ing, and even some not bound together.

Peo­ple don’t realise that a poor­ly con­struct­ed HIP wastes every­one’s time because miss­ing doc­u­ments have to requested/​purchased, and often, per­son­al search­es replaced.

Most HIP providers are more inter­est­ed in putting fan­cy logos on their doc­u­ments than ensur­ing the pack infor­ma­tion is correct.”

Only one week before, the Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty stat­ed it may aban­don its pledge to scrap HIPs if elect­ed. How­ev­er, they have sug­gest­ed major changes, main­ly the change to an exchange ready pack’ which would include title, pre-con­tact enquiries, plan­ning per­mis­sions and guar­an­tees, and require a con­veyance to be instruct­ed before a house is marketed.

Sean said The Tories idea is noth­ing new, as this encom­pass­es most of the orig­i­nal HIP ideas. We just need some­body to start enforc­ing some dis­ci­pline and stan­dards on the area.

The only way sup­pli­ers make mon­ey out of HIPs is to pre­pare them using non-pro­fes­sion­als and by putting as lit­tle infor­ma­tion in them as legal­ly possible.

We pur­pose­ful­ly made a stand on this from the start. We view HIPs as part of the Con­veyanc­ing process and hence don’t charge for putting them togeth­er. Clients just pay for the manda­to­ry items.

We also add 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.

Unlike any oth­er provider we have seen, our HIPs con­tain full local search­es and not the infe­ri­or per­son­al searches.”


This arti­cle appeared in Wilm­slow Express Home­search 30/10/08