Interview with chairman of IPPA Colin Smithson-Connelly – Part 2

Part 2 of 2 of our indepth interview with the chairman of the Independent Pack Providers Association (IPPA) Colin Smithson-Connelly discussing Home Information Packs.

If ‘they’ do remove HIPs, what affect will this have on your members and the wider domestic energy assessors in your opinion?

Obviously it would create very hard conditions but IPPA members are best placed to survive, adapt and succeed post compulsory HIPs, most of our members already have local networks of Business’s that they supply to and could continue to even without compulsory HIPs. EPCs would still be required and other add ons such as floor plans etc would give a broader base. IPPA is also working on new product lines that could benefit its’ members and protect their current markets!

I think Energy Assessors would continue to struggle as they have since EPCs became mandatory due to over supply of accredited DEAs. It will take a few more years yet probably for this situation to change, the closure of some of the more prolific training providers should help but of course if there’s money to be made then more will replace them.

Considering the evidence of voluntary uptake in regards to the Home Condition Report, if the HIP is made voluntary as has been suggested by Grant Shapps can you really see it surviving?

Any uptake of voluntary HIPs would be localised and in the minority, voluntary HIPs defeat the whole purpose, if one property has a HIP and the other one doesn’t then the system falls down.

I can see that groups who really wanted to improve the home buying/selling process could carve out a niche market if their marketing was done in the correct way and the desire of all parties matched to see the process through. Essentially though mainstream HIPs would die overnight, Estate Agents would find it very hard to promote HIPs with an upfront cost if their competitor down the road wasn’t, even those that support HIPs strongly have admitted as such.
Considering the OFT report on the positive responses of buyers to HIPs, Grant Shapps would be letting them down by destroying the process that is now an integral part of putting your home on the market!
Sellers weren’t so positive but they have the upfront cost, all information comes at a price but IPPA have proposed a system that could see an improved pack, no upfront fee and no cost at all if the property doesn’t sell within nine months, Unfortunately although Grant Shapps found IPPAs’ proposals very interesting his official response was that if they did the job they would succeed voluntary. In localised transactions they might but where one property had a pack and another didn’t then as I already said the whole process would be let down.

The industry answered Grant Shapps call to suggest improvements to HIPs and when it did he moved the goalposts to say “well they’ll work voluntary then”.

If HIPs or their re-incarnation continues, what would you like ‘it’ to look like?

I think that HIPs as we know them now could continue in almost the same form but they need to be part of a complete package, we’ve seen Companies promoting Exchange ready packs but are they really without the Conveyancer on board from the outset.

HIP Companies ( including DEAs ) could become an integral part of the process, agents if you like for the Conveyancer contracted by the Consumer from the point of marketing. Supplying the search package ( HIP ) but also tracking down guarantees and Fensa certificates etc. HIP companies and their representatives ( DEAs ) are in the unique position here of having to visit the property and having to make investigations into windows etc and home contents forms could filled out during the visit , getting all the paperwork in place for the Conveyancer so that the property could really be exchange ready with the Conveyancer having taken it to that point.

How would this be paid for?, who wants to instruct a Conveyancer from the point of marketing if they don’t even know if they will sell their property with costs on top of the HIP?. Well, there will be a “No sale No Fee” package that would allow all this to happen with no upfront costs to the consumer, their home sale could proceed much more smoothly and quickly providing a less stressful process and boosting the economy at the same time.

What are your thoughts towards the recent Property Professionals administration?

I think it’s a shame for all those caught up in it, unfortunately we’ll probably see more situations like this and I would like to see more protection for the consumer against Companies offering training for Industries that are already oversubscribed. It’s not just in our Industry, driving Instructors are constantly “required” and these companies seem to target those desperate to escape their current situation.

There does seem to be a large amount of representative organisations for ‘HIP industry professionals’. The ones we are aware of include: (they are in no specific order) IPPA, AHIPP, IDEA, IPSA, IHI, PEPA, FPIP, PCCB plus the 9 EPC accreditation schemes and am sure we will have missed a couple. Does this help those at ground level who they claim to help and represent or does this further dis-joint the industry?

You really have covered three industries there though, while we are all connected by HIPs they are separate Industries in their own right, HIPs, Search Agents and Energy Assessors.

HIPs and Energy Assessments are both relatively new industries so I think it’s not surprising that there has been Organisations come and go. If there isn’t a need for them then you’d think they’ll slowly fade away from now on as some have already done so, I do personally distrust new organisations that appear to have been born in desperation of the possible demise of one industry and from areas that have actually contributed to the over supply of DEAs and even worse in the continued training of Home Inspectors.

What are IPPA’s goals and aspirations over the next 6-12months?

IPPA will continue to lobby for the retention of HIPs with the Conservatives and any other group that has an interest. The HIPs Industry needs to strengthen it’s position and IPPA can be integral within that process, we have and will continue to strive for the raised quality of the HIPs product.

If HIPs survive the next 6-12 months then the HIPs Industry needs to come together, be inclusive to companies of all sizes and seize the opportunity to improve the home buying/selling process.

With the uncertainty in the industry at present is it a good time to join IPPA?

Strength always comes in numbers but also from presenting an arguable case in the right manner, this is what IPPA has and will continue to do, the more support we have behind us the better our chances of succeeding.

Just because HIPs might not have long to go doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive to do the best job possible, this is what IPPA offers its’ members from the initial auditing and quality control before you can even become a member to the continued personal support you receive from IPPA and the member benefits that members receive. With the relatively low membership fee members can soon be “in profit” if they take advantage of the member benefits along with the technical support.

IPPA is still receiving applications to join and will continue to accept new members hopefully for a long time to come yet!

For more information on the Independent Pack Providers Association (IPPA) and how to join visit their website.


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10 Responses to “Interview with chairman of IPPA Colin Smithson-Connelly – Part 2”

  1. no sale no fee Says:

    has no sale no fee not been shown to be unworkable in challenging times? is this not the downfall of many an estate agent and solicitor recently.

  2. Congrats to Colin and IPPA for delivering some common sense for HIps future. Hopefully if grant shapps and mike o can take a step back we may make some progress

  3. We joined IPPA and AHIPP. The differences about £16k and one looks at what you actually do, one just takes your cash i will let you guess which one.

  4. In relation to – “If HIPs or their re-incarnation continues, what would you like ‘it’ to look like?”

    A recent Trading Standard’s investigation in Birmingham examined the issue of buyers’ being left with no idea of who to contact, should they have a cause for complaint regarding their HIP.

    Should HIP’s continue, what does the IPPA feel it could do to help improve the complaint/redress procedure, for HIPs buyers?

  5. Voluntary HIP packs are doomed, there is no way they will work. Regulation is needed to ensure standards are upheld and checks are made regularly. Recent checks in Birmingham proved this beyond doubt where cheap hip providers were shown to be selling unsatisafctory HIPs

  6. It is apparent that being a training provider or an organisation representing prople is the way to make the money. Unfortunately it is hard for the governemt to regulate as they seem in favour of as many quangos as possible which is now being replicated in private sector.

    Our only hope is that the torys come in and get rid of them all.

  7. Hi

    The situation in Birmingham was tainted once the Trading Standards used the PCCB to audit HIPs and then follow it up with propaganda for their own organisation, talk about conflict of interests!

    All IPPA members HIPs have to carry their contact details within the HIP and all members have to have a suitable complaints procedure in place before they are allowed membership of IPPA.

    Unfortunately IPPA can’t make the rest of the Industry follow it’s high standards but can only make sure that it’s members follow the highest standards, at least the PCCB now audit their members which they didn;’t in the first few years, I’d like to think that was in response to IPPA’s lead!

    I do find it strange that a compulsory document by legislation can basically be supplied by any Tom, Dick or Harry.

    IPPA have lobbied the CLG for some kind of “quality standard” by legislation encompassing all areas of the HIP production including T & Cs, Complaints procedures and quality of the HIP itself, obviously with HIPs being in a precarious situation at the moment nothing is likely to happen in the near future but should HIPs be saved by the result of the GA then IPPA will continue to lobby for improved and enforced standards throughout the HIPs Industry.

  8. Sorry if i am being a little slow but what is the problem with PCCB auditing HIPs? were they not set up to ensure quality?

  9. The PCCB are only a trade type Organisation the same as lots of others, you don’t have to register with them and they only have control over their own registered members.

    Trading Standards should have audited the HIPs if they were doing an investigation, they are responsible for policing HIPs and EPCs and have everything they need to do this- the HIPs regulations that are quite clear in the requirements.

    To allow the PCCB to be involved and then to let them create propaganda is scandalous and if the ownwers of the HIPs weren’t asked for permission then probably illegal as well!

    Even the statements released were typically wrong from the PCCB, what is a “less than satisfactory HIP”, a HIP is either compliant or it isn’t, there is no in between!

    Or are they less than satisfactory if they aren’t procuced by PCCB registered Companies ( which the vast majority of HIPs aren’t )

  10. @Colin – Thanks for clarifying that.

    Given the number of groups/bodies/organisation involved in HIP’s, the PCCB’s involvement with (and in turn endorsement from) Trading Standards does seem a little odd!

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