Law Society President, Paul Marsh, recently announced that the controversial Home Information Pack scheme would be subject to a full independent review. All parties connected with the property market will probably be interested to see the results of the review, but for the time being, the property market is still adapting to the latest changes.

Following changes on the 6th April 2009, 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).

Previously, Sellers could market their property as soon as they had instructed a HIP to be produced, and they had up to 28 days to do so while they wait to receive it.

According to a survey of property professionals by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), 65% believe that the new arrangements will actually discourage sellers from putting their properties up for sale.

Sean Barrow, a solicitor with 30 years experience, said “I think the survey result is quite surprising as most people don’t seem aware of the changes, and to be honest, the changes are only slightly alter the end HIP clients see. The main difference is the process of putting HIPs together, which most will see as extra work.

I also believe people will only put off moving for so long (if at all) and then just accept that they have to adhere to the changes, which we witnessed when HIPs were originally introduced.”

Another change from the 6th April is the introduction of the Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ) which requires sellers to answer information on the risk of flooding, gas and electricity safety, service charges, parking arrangements and details of any structural damage.

Jonathan Singh of Spencer Knight, a property consultant with 15 years experience said “We were slightly concerned when we were informed by Jackson Barrett & Gass of the changes because of the speed needed to get packs ready, and also get the PIQ filled out.

However, if anything, it has improved our offering in terms of speed and clients can now judge our efficiency in real terms.

Clients continue to put their properties on the market freely, and we have only had one person object to HIPs since the introduction in 2007.”

Sean Barrow also comments “If anything, the changes may improve some elements of the market. Previously, some HIPs either weren’t ready when sales were agreed, or HIPs were incomplete with parts missing. Hopefully the changes will ensure all HIPs are ready when a sale is agreed, and the Conveyancing process isn’t delayed.

Finally, the 6th April was supposed to be the so-called ‘Drop Dead Date’ - properties prior to the original HIP introduction, and who still haven’t sold their properties will need a HIP in place. However, official clarification of this position hasn’t been forthcoming.

Sean said “As far as we are concerned, it is still applicable. We have advised clients and Estate agents alike, to make sure they have a HIP in place for properties marketed prior to October 2007.”

Jackson Barrett & Gass take the opportunity to add value to the packs by adding extra documents earlier on in the process thus ensuring the seller and purchaser have all the information required from the outset.

Jackson Barrett & Gass also include full local searches (rather than personal searches) in all HIPs thus ensuring that all buyers can use the searches in accordance with their mortgage lenders.

Finally, Jackson Barrett & Gass charge no fee for the creation of HIPs. Clients merely pay for the mandatory items that are required.


This article appeared in Wilmslow Express Homesearch 14/05/09 & Macclesfield Express Homesearch 20/05/09