Accord­ing to a Which? report pub­lished last week, some Estate agents charge 50 per cent more to com­pile Home Infor­ma­tion Packs (HIPs) than a spe­cial­ist provider, and that sell­ers pay around £300 more than if they had shopped around.

The edi­tor of Which? Mon­ey, James Daley, said Our research shows that the most expen­sive high street agents charge over twice as much as the cheap­est online HIP providers. There is evi­dence that some Estate agents require sell­ers to use a nom­i­nat­ed HIP provider in return for tak­ing a hefty commission.”

Helen Bunch (MAR­LA), direc­tor of Spencer Knight with 15 years expe­ri­ence, is quick to dis­tin­guish Spencer Knight from the issue It cer­tain­ly makes inter­est­ing read­ing, but we took the view that HIPs are an impor­tant legal doc­u­ment, and so should be treat­ed like one.

We there­fore rec­om­mend all our clients to use Jack­son Bar­rett & Gass Solic­i­tors. Our clients sim­ply pay the price that Jack­son Bar­rett & Gass pay to obtain the rel­e­vant parts, and nei­ther of us tries to prof­it from HIPs.”

Jack­son Bar­rett & Gass have been prepar­ing their own HIPs since Octo­ber 2007 when they were first intro­duced, and fol­low the orig­i­nal idea of pro­vid­ing extra infor­ma­tion and a qual­i­ty full local search, some­thing that is rare with oth­er providers.

Sean Bar­row, a solic­i­tor with 30 years expe­ri­ence, said The prob­lem with HIPs is that at the end of the day they are legal doc­u­ment. That isn’t to say that only legal peo­ple should cre­ate them, but that they are used in the legal process.

Time and time again, we see HIPs con­tain­ing the bare min­i­mum of infor­ma­tion. Sad­ly, this is the key to most providers’ prof­it, but is actu­al­ly at the detri­ment to the client.”

The 6th April 2009 was a sig­nif­i­cant date, which meant ven­dors can­not put up those For Sale” signs until all of the key doc­u­ments for their HIP are in place (although they will still be giv­en 28-days grace for a few items includ­ing prop­er­ty searches).

The packs were also made big­ger, with the inclu­sion of a Prop­er­ty Infor­ma­tion Ques­tion­naire (PIQ). This requires infor­ma­tion on the risk of flood­ing, gas and elec­tric­i­ty safe­ty, ser­vice charges, park­ing arrange­ments and details of any struc­tur­al damage.

Sean said In our view, the changes did not go far enough. We include every­thing from plan­ning per­mis­sions to grants of Pro­bate in our packs, not to men­tion the stan­dard sell­er pro­to­col forms. The aim is to reduce enquiries from the pur­chaser’s solic­i­tor and thus save time.

The inclu­sion of a full local search is also impor­tant in sav­ing time and mon­ey for the pur­chas­er. Few recog­nise the waste of time and mon­ey when it comes to per­son­al’ search­es as most mort­gage lenders won’t allow them to be used.”

Jonathan Singh, a Sales Direc­tor with 15 years expe­ri­ence, also of Spencer Knight is also keen to pro­mote the ben­e­fits of the extra infor­ma­tion The local search has real­ly helped buy­ers, and we have seen a faster progress to exchange of con­tracts in trans­ac­tions involv­ing the HIPs we pro­vide. The num­ber of enquiries is also sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er, which also assists every­one involved.

We have also seen its poten­tial to flush out’ non-seri­ous buy­ers as they have no excuse not to pro­ceed quick­ly with purchases.”