Will Home Information Packs (HIPs) be ‘scrapped’?

The Home Information Pack (HIP) Industry:

  • Employs around 10,000 either directly or through the provision of the constituent parts
  • Feeds work to personal search companies, search departments of local authorities, domestic energy assessors, solicitors, IT designers and programmers and printers
  • The value of the business in 2009 is estimated at £292,000,000. This is based on 900,000 HIPs at an average retail price of £325 before VAT. It is important to recognise that the volume of properties coming to market is at about 60% of the average through the cycle. This means that in an average year the market would be worth approx £490 million with VAT of £80 million.
  • Generates around £44 million at 15% and £51 million at 17.5% to which VAT will soon return.
  • Self regulates through the HIP Code and Association of Home Information Pack Providers.
  • Innovates by producing new systems for automating the home selling and purchase process e.g. ready to exchange pack

The other main theme running through any consideration of the benefit or otherwise of the HIP is the Green issue.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are an integral part of the pack and are having a positive impact on the behaviour of consumers towards energy efficiency in their homes resulting in tangible carbon emission reductions.

EPCs are vital to the UK meeting its climate change obligations and research demonstrates that consumers are using the recommendations in the EPC to implement energy savings measures. Conservative plans to move EPCs to the end of the home buying and selling process would have a disastrous effect on the progress made to date and would be in breach of European law relating to the energy efficiency of homes. From a practical perspective Mortgage lenders have previously tested providing energy reports with their mortgage valuations but consumers totally ignored them.

Domestic energy consumption and efficiency are key areas which the UK is looking to improve upon in order to meet its climate change targets. Given that over 25% of UK carbon emissions are produced by domestic properties, it is vital that the benefits of the EPC are fully exploited.

The inclusion of EPCs in HIPs is demonstrably delivering the benefits for which they were designed:

  • Over 95% of properties marketed for sale have an EPC because it forms part of the mandatory HIP. This is the one and only sector where compliance rates are high. In comparison less than 60% of dwellings marketed for let/rent have EPCs – meaning a non-compliance rate of over 40%. This includes the social housing sector, despite the direct role of CLG in funding and regulating the sector. Non-compliance in respect of the requirement to have a Commercial EPC on all non-domestic buildings marketed for sale or rent is running at 82%-92% according to a number of research studies undertaken by a variety of reliable sources.
  • The EPC is designed to inform consumers about the energy efficiency of a home, so that they may consider it as part of their decision whether or not to make a purchase. Procuring the EPC as part of the HIP means that the energy rating graph can be (and is required to be) shown on the estate agents property particulars providing instant visibility of the energy rating for prospective purchasers.
  • Recent consumer research shows that 69% of those questioned remember seeing the EPC during the home moving process (The Homemovers Report – June 2009).
  • The same research shows that 32% read the recommendations contained in the EPC, were interested, and made some of the recommended improvements. A further 9% intend to make some of the recommended improvements in the near future (The Homemovers Report – June 2009)
  • An independent ‘snapshot survey’ of 22 industry stakeholders, only one of which (AHIPP) has a vested interest in the provision of HIPs, showed that 17 stakeholders (77%) felt that moving the EPC to the end of the process would be a retrograde step. Only one felt that this course of action would be reasonable.
  • The EPC acts as a means for consumers to realise the market value of energy efficiency, providing buyers with information they feel is important and allowing sellers to increase their asking prices for energy efficient properties.
  • If moved to the end of the process non-compliance in respect of procuring EPCs will quickly escalate, consumer engagement will markedly reduce and the opportunity to maximise carbon emission reductions will be gone.

It is also important as part of this analysis to consider how HIPs are viewed by other interested parties. It’s essential that the Conservatives consult with stakeholders and other interested parties before making a final decision on the fate of the HIP.

What is being said about Home Information Packs HIPs and by whom?

At the Land Data Great Housing Market Debate in April 2009 a panel of experts, during discussion and debate on Home Information packs, unanimously agreed that “while packs had been poorly implemented they should not be scrapped but instead adapted and improved”
Kate Barker, former MPC member
David Miles, Chief Economist, Morgan Stanley
Michael Coogan, Director General, CML
Hugh Pym, Chief Economics Correspondent, BBC
Grenville Turner, Group Chief Executive, Countrywide

“Of all the Tories’ pre-election promises, the one I find the most bizarre is the obsession with abolishing Home Information Packs. Granted, the property market is on its knees with the lowest number of house sales for decades. But having said that, I have seen not a jot of evidence that HIPs have anything to do with this and I have not heard of a single seller – or buyer – who believes that the packs have been even a marginal factor. In fairness, the Conservatives did say that they would abolish HIPs even before they were made compulsory and the way they were introduced by this government can at best be described as a shambles. However, I have always been, and remain, totally unconvinced by the Opposition’s case against them (the LibDems are also anti), especially now that they’ve been around for over two years now and no one has died yet. Most packs cost under £400 and include a mandatory energy report. This would now have to be carried out anyway whenever a property is sold and would cost at least £150 on its own. So I cannot believe that the packs can possibly be a major factor in the sale of houses, many of which are worth 1,000 times that. Moreover, the main objectors to HIPs from the property world itself have always been the estate agents and the Law Society, while the consumer watchdog Which? has always been in favour. Who would you rather trust?”
Mira Bar-Hillel, Property Correspondent, London Evening Standard

“The current home buying process is one that fails consumers. While efforts have and continue to be made to improve it, while this market failure exists, Which? does not support the abolition of Home Information Packs (HIPs). Which? still believes the principle of a HIP is a good one. We support consumers being better informed about what is likely to be the biggest purchase of their lives – their home. This applies in particular to first time buyers who need better independent information. But HIPs in practice have been of limited value. The inclusion of the property information questionnaire was welcome but there is still much work to do to improve the home buying and selling process and to raise standards. In short, though HIPs were supposed to speed up house sales, reduce stress and hassle by empowering consumers and save consumers’ money, the jury is still out.”
Mark McLaren, Which? Public Affairs and Policy

“EPCs have the potential to be valuable tools in raising awareness of the energy performance of homes and in encouraging change. It is key that ‘first day marketing’ of EPCs remains in place. The EPC label should feature on the front of the particulars of properties for sale and/or rent to enable people to become much more familiar with the energy ratings of homes and therefore, associated running costs. The EPC rating should also be required to feature in all marketing material, including estate agents’ windows, press and internet advertising for sales and lettings.”
Colin Butfield, Head of Campaigns, World Wildlife Fund

We are firmly behind EPCs playing a major role in the home buying process and, therefore, they should be a priority in all vendor pre-purchasing surveys. Indeed, they are essential part of the important process for moving forward the UK’s existing housing stock towards zero-carbon ratings by 2050. To place EPCs at the end of the priority list would be a retrograde step.
Andrew Leech, Executive Director, National Home Improvement Council

The Law Society is currently consulting on proposals for a membership scheme that would explore “the development of completion-ready packs (taking HIPs to their logical conclusion)”.
Law Society, Improving Residential Conveyancing, June 2009

The National Association of Estate Agents do not appear supportive, but I question whether their view is representative of all their members, and furthermore whether their view would change if the first day marketing regulation was once again suspended.

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25 Responses to “Will Home Information Packs (HIPs) be ‘scrapped’?”

  1. Unfortunately what David Pett has failed to mention is that in the majority of HIPs the property searches aren’t worth the paper they are being produced on. I have seen examples where insurance is still being used to avoid getting the information. Questions are being answered when the company compiling that search has not even made the enquiry with the Local Authority.

    The point about local searches being cheaper is not a result of HIPs, it was a result of legislation being brought in that forced LAs to reduce their prices to cost something that many land charges officers have been requesting for years.

    The upshot of the poor searches in HIPs is that the vendor is having to pay for another local search direct from the LA.

    A cynic could say that it is a win win situation for these HIP compilers and the LAs as they are both getting a slice of the pie but as usual it is the consumer who is getting fleeced. Scrap HIPs and hopefully all these little cowboy compilers will vanish.

    Trading Standards don’t really want to know and Government turn a blind eye.

  2. Debbie Pashford Says:

    Having been at the sharp end of a supposedly HIP compliant search which was out of date by the time we came to buy our property I would not trust a personal search ever again. Our solicitor advised us that he knew that personal search companies did not seek to obtain all relevant information from the local authority to produce a search. This was borne out by the fact that a proposal to put double yellow lines outside of our property was not revealed (the property had no on-site parking and so this was a potential issue) nor was the intention of the local authority to start enforcement proceedings against the previous owner in relation to the erection of elevated decking in the back garden (which we didn’t like and wanted to remove in any case). Both of these issues were planned when the HIP search was produced but not shown on it. They were only revealed on a local authority search (which our solicitor suggested we had to ensure the correct information was available) and, as it turned out, our mortgage company required as the search in the HIP was too old. Therefore the search in the HIP was useless. These searches are quite expensive and I feel that having a time-limited document in a HIP is a waste of money for people paying for HIPs and is of no use to buyers if not carried out by the people in the local authority who have information (but apparently aren’t asked for it when personal searches are carried out). If HIPs are to continue they should not include time-limited documents.

  3. Timothy Martin Says:

    I understand the antipathy felt by so many about HIPS and the desire to point out their shortcomings, but they have one massive advantage: IF they are in place and have been done correctly, then the fact that they speed up time to completion ENABLES NON-CASH-BUYERS TO BUY PROPERTIES AT AN AUCTION. The usual auction deadline of 28-days-to-provide-funds is such a large hurdle that people who have to get mortgages simply never consider auctions: but with a HIP in place and a good solicitor, it becomes feasible, putting 10-15% savings in the cost of a house within the reach of Joe Public. This unsung, often unnoticed advantage overwhelms all the (I’m sorry) petty objections to HIPs. I’m sadly unsurprised that Tories want to scrap them: any free-marketeer will tell you that *standardised* transaction instruments are great in freeing up a market and *reducing* transaction times/costs, (which is why we buy stuff using standardised paper designs called “money” instead of, say, barter) but let’s face it, the last free-market Tory died when Cameron’s bunch took charge.

  4. With regard to ‘time limited’ documents within the HIP, there are none. All documents within the HIP are protected by the life of the HIP itself (ie the time that the property is on the market). The fact that the lender may choose to reject a search because it is older than their specific requirements, is not a failing of the HIP. A search is effectively out of date the day it is produced. This would be the case whether it be a local authority search or a personal one.

  5. Richard Large Says:

    Congratulations David on producing an excellent in depth analysis of the situation. I am not a HIP provider & have no vested interest in whether HIPs stay or go, but ever since the concept was mooted in the December 1998 consultation paper (& indeed long before that) I have believed there was a need to rationalise the home transfer processes & it must be clear to anyone that having the property as well-prepared as possible, on both legal & condition related factors, must smooth & quicken the process. The cost issue has always been a red herring & it has been the implementation process that has justifiably drawn criticism.
    You say that “scrapping” HIPs would send us “back to the dark ages”. I disagree – it would be far far worse. At least in those days people knew what to expect; nothing was done until a buyer was found & it was commonplace for legal & condition related investigations to hold up or destroy transactions. If HIPs were scrapped or made voluntary (the same thing) we would have some people doing the obviously sensible thing & getting the HIP done & as exchange-ready as possible, but others, no doubt egged on by those who say they are a waste of time, who do nothing. So no-one would ever know what to expect & the whole conveyancing process would become a total shambles & a nightmare of confusion (if the public think it’s confusing now, they ain’t seen nothing yet).
    The problem with time-limited documents is a valid one so that is a main area which needs addressing. The quality of a search acceptable for a HIP should be the same quality as one accepted by a conveyancer acting for the buyer/lender. Systems need to be devised to permit instant online refreshing of search information previously obtained (on the basis that only changes are identified, otherwise the original search remains valid) at minimal extra or originally inclusive cost. Condition-related information can possibly go out of date within a year or so through unforeseeable factors but subject to that it is very rare for anything significant to change involuntarily in the condition of a property during its marketing. If it was (eg dry rot) the condition-related risks leading to that change should have been identified when the report was produced.
    As for the EPC, that was always an add on to a condition related report anyway; what irony if it became the only bit left! But of course it should be provided from the outset – what use is an EPC advising expenditure to a buyer at the time of exchange of contracts, if they wanted to add the costs onto their mortgage application? They can only decide whether to do that if they have the information at the relevant time.
    HIPs were aimed at the wrong target, diluted in the critical areas, implemented without supporting technological solutions fully in place & not properly explained to the public or the industry. Complacency & vested interests in maintaining the status quo were given more heed than they deserved.
    So far as I can see, the only alternative solution to a statutory HIP requirement is that Codes of Practice are established which dictate through accepted industry-wide conventions that certain things would be in place in order to facilitate marketing of a home. Industry never came to grips with doing that – which is why Labour decided to take the bull by the horns. It’s a great shame the horns broke off.

  6. More HIP-Consultant propaganda. Hip’s and EPC’s have been a disaster and absolutely no help to me during my recent house purchasing/selling experience.

    1.The EPC on my property was clearly incorrect with respect to heating controls and gas consumption estimates.
    2.Not a single potential purchaser was interested in the HIP(I asked them all!).
    3.The PIQ is vague & misleading and simply duplicates the conveyancers enquiries.
    4. The local searches in my purchase property HIP were out of date so needed doing again.

    For once I agree with the tories!

  7. Someone Who Knows Says:

    Local Authorities are regional hubs which maintain data in database format. The vast majority of these database storages are poorly presented with large quantities of data being presented in paper format resulting in inefficient procedures and potential inaccuracies. Private Search companies are able to create similar databases but are using better technology to keep these updated and can therefore be more efficient. There is no real difference between these databases and the LA databases as long as the Search provider maintain there records. LA’s make it very difficult for search providers to gain access as they are attempting to keep their costs as high as possible. Surely this is not good for consumer economics?

    If a poor search provider is used then there is a chance the information will be inaccurate but this is not the story for the whole search industry. As a consumer market, it is your job in making choices to choose providers which offer a good service just like you would when you buy from a shop or brand. In every industry there are poor suppliers and it is your job to investigate your concerns as you would when purchasing any product. An excuse that you don’t understand the industry is not an issue which should be burdened by the whole industry but by the regulation bodies and you for being lazy in not researching your product purchases. If you were to buy a budget branded product and it breaks you blame the company not the type of product!!

    As a consumer if the Searches are removed from the HIP they will forever seem confusing and daunting. Whilst the searches are available for consumer viewing in the HIP they will slowly change to consumer friendly documents. Placing the searches back in the hands of the Solicitor will place no pressure on consumer usefulness and the solicitors will always charge high fees for supposedly dealing with a complex document. Local Authorities will never make this migration in presentation of information and it is likely to happen with private companies who are competing to provide a low cost, highly useful document to gain market share.

    In regards to time limited documents within the HIP process. Unfortunately Properties change and so does the area around the property. This can not be avoided. Every document which relates to the property process is time sensitive. At least being given the information on day 1 is 99% accurate and by day 90 may only be 50% accurate. But surely this still provides enough information upfront to make the majority of good decisions. Remember that it is now up to the seller to show up their properties rather than hiding issues behind transparency problems. The seller must pay in order to show buyers what they are selling. If the traditional process was returned to buyers would again get interested in a property, pay for the information just to find it is no longer of interest. This means multiple buyers may end up paying for the same information on a single property! Now that is a waste of money!

    In order to change things for the consumer the HIP industry is perfectly placed. But introducing a document at the first stage of marketing, the consumer is indirectly promoting a level playing filed for competition. All suppliers not market into the same lead causing high competition. The simple nature of competition increasing, benefits the consumer massively. As competition increase suppliers must lower prices and increase product value to win sales. This will ultimately result in a fantastic product and very commercial prices and due to legal requirements this product will help the industry speed up processes and protect the consumer with information.

    Destroying the infant HIP industry would place the property market on its knees and set it back technology wise for years with little support for later change. Any one who can support this is looking at a very short term picture. A large change such as the HIP process to a large industry such as the property market must be implemented in stages. These stages have caused issues but changes have already occurred and will keep on occurring creating a fantastic product. You can not change a billion pound industry over night and people plus technology need to time to get ready and develop. The local authority story is a perfect example of these changes. There are thousands of individuals ready to do what ever is needed in order help the process. It would take years to gain that advantage when trying to help an industry which everyone knows is inefficient and full of expensive pit falls.

    There is so much support for HIPs when you look at the potential results, the conservative party are obviously oblivious to the internal workings of the consumer market along with the in-depth understanding of the property industry professionals. Surely this is evidence enough that selecting a government which doesn’t understand consumers or business within such an influential market/industry is word of warning. Governments are supposed to make decision which in many cases consumers do not understand. That is their job. Making a poor decision here would affect all industries as properties are for most people the most expensive transaction of their lifetime.

  8. James and Debbies posts raise several points. As with all companies or trades there aree good and bad. If James has evidence of a Hip containing a search which has insured the lack of information he should inform trading standards as this is an offence since April 6th. There has been no legislation to force LA’s to reduce there prices. It was the competition from personal search companies which caused this to happen. As for the personal search missing information again there are good and bad companies. we have been providing official and personal searches since 1999 and have many examples of official searches giving incorrect information. It makes no difference whether the searches are personal or from the LA they all expire at the same time which is basically when the buyers solicitor or the lender decide. They usually accept them between three and six months but really they are only ss good as the day they are done. In conclusion I can say that if we provide a personal search it is likely to be better than the one you would buy from the LA and considerably cheaper.

  9. Someone Who Knows
    “The seller must pay in order to show buyers what they are selling. If the traditional process was returned to buyers would again get interested in a property, pay for the information just to find it is no longer of interest. This means multiple buyers may end up paying for the same information on a single property! Now that is a waste of money!”

    Exactly what happens now with surveys/valuations – they should be in a HIP if we must have one!!

  10. Emma Stanley Says:

    It is interesting to see the comment received by Mr Shapp from the DEA. Here is a copy of the email I received from him when I questioned the abolition of HIPS:
    Received 30.07.09
    Thanks for your email to David Cameron. He has asked me to respond as Shadow Housing Minister.

    Governing means deciding and we’ve always been very clear about HIPs and voted against them from the outset. It’s not therefore that surprising that we will abolish them.

    I fully appreciate how difficult this is for you and share your anger about the money you and others have spent on training. I believe that this Government has led you up a garden path by introducing a needlessly bureaucratic, expensive and largely pointless piece of legislation and I have every sympathy for someone in your position. However, it does seem to me that the people to blame are the ones currently in power. We have been consistent in our intentions and have warned the market place that HIPs didn’t enjoy our support throughout.

    We will of course look at ways to ease the transition for those who are already trained or training as HIPs inspectors, but we will not be keeping the current system.

    We will however retain EPCs.

    Best regards,

    Grant

    It is “strange” that the exact same comments have been given. The Shadow Housing Minister has not once given an adequate reply as to why HIPS should be scrapped or what alternatives were to be put in place. As a HIP provider, I asked the minister for his comments when he will in effect make me redundant. As you can see from above, the reply did not cover the points I raised.

    Furthermore, and NOT THAT I AGREE WITH THIS but, how will the Conservative Government overcome the lack of money they will receive if HIPS are abolished? Not only do they receive revenue through the local councils when a Local Authority Search is carried out, but also the VAt that is received when a client pays for the HIP. If our country is currently in a funding defecit, how will this benefit the debt we are in from a governmental perspective?

  11. Someone Who Knows Says:

    Nick snr I agree with your comments.
    When solicitors consider who actually types the information into a Search form (CON29R), surely they must know the person is no better qualified if employed by the LA or a Personal Search Company. It’s just a low/medium wage employee/subcontractor who re-assembles the information in the format required. You can either buy it from the LA as a Personal Search Agent, or you can pay more to the LA for someone very similar to do the same job. The LA is legally required to offer the information to Personal Search Agents just like they would to their own employees.

    Phil, I am unsure whether you are in support of my comment or against it! I fully agree with your statement however. As time moves on and the industry improves more documentation should be included within the HIP. Each added document will go through a difficult implementation period as each sector adapts to the new pressures which are required to complete the documents in an efficient way. I would have been impossible for all the must have documents to be completed all at once. It will be a staged process but the long term results look favourable for all buyers. Prior to the 6th April LA’s were not ready to provide access to all their information which is why Personal Searches included insurance to cover missing answers. After a few years the industry including the LA’s were ready for the Personal Search to improve and it has done. The longer we wait, the better the product will become. Why cripple it now when the ground work is just about settling. The hard part is over, the rest will be easier. The skeleton has been built and we can now slowly add piece by piece in order to create more consumer value.

  12. Timothy Martin Says:

    I note that several people (Phil Smith, Debbie Pashford and others) have listed their objections and have no doubt that the inadequacies they detail are true, but I have to point out the following:

    * Points such as inaccurate searches, time-limited searches and inaccurate EPCs will still be a problem whether HIPs exist or not: if HIPs disappear overnight, then some searches/EPCs will still be inaccurate/out-of-date. Removing HIPs will not cure these problems.

    At the risk of repeating myself, the advantages of HIPs are:

    * Necessary info obtained once by seller instead of several times by buyer, resulting in overall cost reduction
    * Necessary info collated once by seller and openly displayed online in standard form, enabling purchasers to compare properties quickly and easily
    * Reduction in completion time resulting in a more efficient market
    * Reduction in completion time enabling more buyers to buy at auction instead of usual conveyancing nonsense.

    I understand the Tories’s POV: yes, it is an additional cost and yes, if the house does not sell quickly, it gets out-of-date. But this ignores the fact that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

    Again, I reiterate my central point: it’s a pity that a party with such a core belief in the goodness of markets are rejecting standardised instruments used in sale in favor of ad-hoc, done-on-the-fly, unstandardised uncomparable searches that make comparison between goods (houses) more difficult, not less!

    When you go to a shop and compare tins of beans, spaghetti, whatever, each tin has a standardised label on them denoting the price and another standardised label denoting calorie count, salt content, etc, enabling easy comparison and informed choice. The Tories are confusing homogenisation of goods (bad, reduces choice) with homogenisation of labeling (good, enables choice).

    I could bang on about this more, but I suspect it’s just p***ing in the wind. So I’ll leave you with this (true) anecdote.

    Earlier in the year, I spotted a nice property going cheap at an auction. It had a HIP in place, so I checked with my solicitor and he said that yes, with the HIP in place, I could get completion done within the 28 day limit. So I went to the auction, stood on my trotters, stuck my hand in the air, and bid. I got outbid (boo!) but without the HIP, I would never have been able to do that (I’m not a cash buyer).

    True story.

  13. Richard Large Says:

    “Someone who knows” does indeed & I agree totally that this is a transition which will take a significant period & the main issue is that there is little joined up implementation. Even if there were, market forces create substantial anomalies.
    It seems that Mr Shapps’ attitude is written in stone as regards the silence that Conservatives maintain about their reasoning. I made several attempts in 2006 to obtain some indication from his predecessor’s (Caroline Spelman) research assistant as to why the Conservative Party is opposed to HIPs. Here is an extract from some of the correspondence at the time, when I wrote:

    “This matter is becoming seriously contentious. Apart from the fact that you have totally ignored the points raised in my emails, I now see that your party is putting out blatantly deceitful statements on your website. I quote:

    “On your website at http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=news.story.page&obj_id=130620 : (this is no longer available)
    “After the group of academic experts and economists warned that the introduction of packs next year will increase unemployment, cut consumer spending, and have a substantial negative effect on the economy – especially in the South East, South West and London – Mr Gove added:….”

    “It is the use of the word “will” that incenses me because in the speech given by the executive chairman of the organisation from which you quote at
    http://www.gmacrfc.co.uk/Asp/uploadedFiles//file/SCK2944.pdf
    the speaker states, in respect of the purported reduction in homes coming to the market to which the warning on your website directly relates:
    “I cannot over-stress that nobody is saying that these reductions WILL happen. We are just making the point that nobody can guarantee that they WON’T.””
    End of quote.

    I do not believe that it could be proven that the scenarios of the 2006 OEF report have transpired in reality; they were not scenarios proposed as outcomes by OEF; they were scenarios imposed upon them as the brief. That a significant reduction in transactions (25% was the scenario upon which the dire warnings were based) has resulted purely from the introduction of HIPs, rather than from other causes.

    At that time we had a basis, by the use of a totally unsubstantiated scenario of 25% reduction in transactions, derived to a large extent from 100 respondents to a 2001 survey by an estate agent, as the purported authoritative background, for envisaging a “devastation of the economy” as put by many media sources at the time and clearly upon which the Conservative party latched on to.

    I can quote the original detail if anyone contests this.

    But I can see that they have dug themselves into a hole. They need a graceful exit strategy. Dig deeper, perhaps?

    And finally, the standard response at the time (prior to my attempt to dig deeper into their “logic” was:

    “Conservatives believe in wider home ownership as a matter of social justice. We want to bring down the barriers to getting on the housing ladder, to share prosperity, to give families the scope to grow and to fulfil people’s aspirations of having a place of their own. We are opposed to Home Information Packs because we believe their introduction will frustrate that ambition rather than assist it.

    Many other organisations including the Law Society, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the National Association of Estate Agents have similar reservations.

    Labour’s new Home Information Packs will add up to £1,000 to the cost of selling a home, according to the National Association of Estate Agents, without providing satisfactory assurances to buyers. Sellers will seek to recover this cost through the selling price.

    First-time buyers are likely to be most seriously affected; lacking confidence in the housing market and a firm financial footing, they are more likely to want their own valuation in addition to the pack which will increase costs further.

    Thank you once again for taking the time to offer your views, which will be taken account.”

    That’s it. That’s the best we could get out of them. Pathetic.
    What’s changed?

  14. Quote from someone who (doesn’t) know
    “Private Search companies are able to create similar databases but are using better technology to keep these updated and can therefore be more efficient.”

    This is a myth being put out by one particular personal search company who falsely claim to access every authority’s records which they haven’t for a fact. They mistakenly claim that they can get all of the CON29R info from subscribing to LA Minutes and local newspapers. If you believe that then I’d be astonished.

    Quote from Nick Snr
    “There has been no legislation to force LA’s to reduce there prices. It was the competition from personal search companies which caused this to happen.”

    Again this is incorrect and misleading. Local Authorities (Charging for Property Searches) (England) Regulations 2008 mean that LA’s cannot charge more than the cost of the service. Despite that some personal search companies think that EIR should apply and that the tax paper should pay for PS companies to have the information for free to enable the PS company to make profits at the taxpayer’s expense.

    The ending of HIPs will see these companies disappear and the power going back to the consumer rather than shareholders of PS companies whose sole intention is to put profit before quality and accuracy.

  15. Hips Trowbridge Says:

    Phil

    you hit the nail on the head when will people understand what you said see below.

    Someone Who Knows
    “The seller must pay in order to show buyers what they are selling. If the traditional process was returned to buyers would again get interested in a property, pay for the information just to find it is no longer of interest. This means multiple buyers may end up paying for the same information on a single property! Now that is a waste of money!”

    Exactly what happens now with surveys/valuations – they should be in a HIP if we must have one!!

  16. Someone who knows Says:

    Comment: James Taylor

    “This is a myth being put out by one particular personal search company who falsely claim to access every authority’s records which they haven’t for a fact. They mistakenly claim that they can get all of the CON29R info from subscribing to LA Minutes and local newspapers. If you believe that then I’d be astonished.”

    You are living in a dream land if you can not see this. Search information is publically available and is provided by Home Owners themselves in part. Any large company with sizable investment can receive this information prior to it reaching the LA. At the end of the day the LA is just a regional hub to collect information about the Local area. If a company is large enough to create a similar model, collecting the same raw information will result in the same outcome. I do however agree that not all information will be available in this way and so the LA will need to be accessed. As a point of interest I would imagine the theory of this database style technology would extend up to the re-use of information. Using a search is up to the buyer’s discretion (solicitor) and so there is quite a substantial subjective nature to the accuracy and risk of information. A local solicitor will recognise high risk question/answers for the area which they cover and these will be the answers which
    require the most up to date information. Re-using information on low risk questions (as long as it is well researched) should be ok, but I would admit a system to do this is would be technically very advanced and the logic design would need to be exceptional.

    The ultimate result will be that all LA’s will generate a central electronic database from which you purchase a search. The search is date and time stamped so that when the property sale is proceeding you can submit for an update. This will allow only the information which has changed to be purchased again. In my opinion this type of model is most likely to come from a private company which has the vested interest to develop the technology. It is most likely that the company which achieves this will become nationalised.

    Local Authorities reducing pricing has occurred because since the 6th April LA’s have been required to provide full access to all their information for the CON29R form. Because this means there is no longer a difference between an official and a personal search the LA’s lost their marketing potential in being the only provider of the full CON29R form. Now personal search companies were able to produce exactly the same report for cheaper (Lower admin costs, better technology). Those LA’s which attempted to charge less for the official than the personal search company can produce a search were challenged to provide exact costing of the information. (Public information). Most of the LA’s reduced their fees as it could not be proved how the information would cost so much! There are very few LA’s which can produce the official for a very competitive price. In support to my early statement these LA’s have invested in software/technology like a private company would.

    “Despite that some personal search companies think that EIR should apply and that the tax paper should pay for PS companies to have the information for free to enable the PS company to make profits at the taxpayer’s expense.”

    If you followed the market pricing and understood market pressures created from competition then past results will show any company attempting to make extra profits will loose market share against new competing businesses. The consumer benefits!

  17. Concerned about content Says:

    James how do you know ‘for a fact'(!) about Search Companies getting data from meeting minutes and public notices – do you work for them?

    There is a search company which obtains data in this way from every local authority in the country but they do not claim they have ALL the data to compile a search. I understand each search request ALSO requires a visit to the local authority to complete the search.

    Can I suggest you check the true facts with the search company concerned before stating ‘facts’ as you understand them as its very misleading!!

  18. Peter Woodhouse Says:

    HIPs, just another tax, useless, misleading and expensive waste of paper.

  19. The situation is quite simple. If HIPs are no longer compulsory we will soon see whether they are any use or not. If they are as good as the purveyors of HIPs say they are, then many vendors will be only too pleased to spend a few hundred pounds to gain a marketing advantage. (They do, after all, spend money sprucing up their homes prior to sale.)

    If we find that vendors do not buy HIPs voluntarily and HIP providers fail to thrive in a free market, the latter will either have to produce a product that people actually want or find another source of income. So let’s remove the compulsion and put it to the test.

  20. Colin Powell Says:

    I have one property which will be offered for sale ‘for development’, without either roof or windows. As the property’s condition is obvious, could someone please tell me what is the point of having a HIP’s energy assessment in this instance ? As I expect the new owner to partly demolish and then extend the property, what relevance will any existing HIP then have ?

    Further – when purchasing properties I ignore HIPs and instruct my solicitors to do likewise, as I operate on a ‘caveat emptor’ basis. The HIP is thus a complete waste of someone’s time and money.

    Let HIPs become voluntary, and let the market decide whether they are useful or not.

  21. [...] Shapps has re-iterated his and the Conservative’s plans to scrap Home Information Packs HIPs; yet again over the last few days. However, yet again he has not detailed any planned phase out or [...]

  22. [...] the Conservatives do win the next election, do you think the Tories will definitely scrap HIPs or in reality alter and re-brand [...]

  23. The Conservative party has made no pretence about its desire to ‘scrap’ Home Information Packs (HIPs) should as is likely it gain power in spring of next year. Is this a credible policy which can be backed with intellectual argument or is it simply an easy way of trying to win the populist vote?

    No they are useless, as the Conservatives have said, do not rely on hips as your main source of income. What does everyone do!
    I have been an agent for 20 years I piloted this scheme in 1998 it was then known as the Sellers Pack. It had exactly the same problems now as it did then. Scrap it and lets get back to good old fashioned estate agency without the red tape.

  24. Fumbletrumpet Says:

    It seems today (Daily Express Headline) that the Conservatives have gone ahead and announced the demise of the HIP.

    We will all have views for/against depending on our own individual experiences as a consumer or property professional. I maintain, with any ‘used’ (and not NHBC or other guaranteed, indeed even with this in many cases !) property, it is caveat emptor. A building can only ever be WYSIWYG. If there is a degree of ‘hidden’ risk it will always be to the vendor’s advantage to gloss over this. There is risk, even with rigourous searches and good surveying. If a buyer wants more freedom from risk, don’t buy, rent.

    What is clear is that the EPC is a European requirement and this will stay, regardless of its perceived value: A ‘new’ (or nearly new) house will perform (in terms of EPC assessment) as well as the minimum requirements of the standards enforced at the time of building. An older property will perform relative to some guesses made in respect of construction standards of the time – i.e. pre 1985; little or no insulation. My experience is that where properties clearly have been improved the assessor will not account for this unless documentation exists to ‘prove’ the work has been carried out (cavity insuation injection for example) by a ‘competent’/registered contractor. Loft insulation in an easily accessible roofspace is about the only exception. Aspects of buildings which do have an impact on energy performance (holes in external fabric and air leakage, types of heating control, argon/air filled glazing units) are often unaccounted for because of limited knowledge of assessor or indeed inaccesible elements. There is a tendency to err on the side of worst case and the recommendations are often not perticularly feasible or good value. The EPC would in many cases appear to be the ‘important’ part of the HIP, it is all too often misleading or inaccurate and for just the properties which it intended to ‘warn’ purchasers about, their buyers are often the least concerned about the info which is provided !

  25. I agree with the demise of the hips as i felt it was only to serve as an employment excercise of the last government. Quite ironic now really as we can all do with jobs being created now.
    Ash

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