The Home In­for­ma­tion Pack has failed to win ad­mir­ers, says Caro­line McGhie

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Property -

Is our re­la­tion­ship with the Home In­for­ma­tion Pack (Hip) al­most over be­fore it has re­ally be­gun? Shadow hous­ing min­is­ter Grant Shapps has vowed to abol­ish the com­pul­sory seller’s pack within weeks of com­ing to power, and re­place it with a more ro­bust ‘ready pack’ that will in­clude a draft con­tract and other le­gal doc­u­ments. Es­tate agents hate Hips, com­plain­ing they are stalling the mar­ket by dis­cour­ag­ing sell­ers who have to pay up­front for the pack be­fore they put their houses on the mar­ket, and by push­ing up the price of sell­ing. Cer­tainly, the pro­posed re­place­ment pack sounds much more com­pre­hen­sive as it in­cludes le­gal doc­u­ments, up-to-date searches, the man­age­ment ac­counts of apart­ment build­ings, lease in­for­ma­tion, listed build­ing and plan­ning con­sents, guar­an­tees and so on. Prop­er­ties that come to the mar­ket should be as oven-ready as a su­per­mar­ket turkey. “If your so­lic­i­tor is away and the ju­nior is on a sab­bat­i­cal, then the lit­mus test is that the of­fice cleaner can send out a com­plete pack­age of doc­u­ments within an hour,” says Trevor Abra­ham­sohn of es­tate agents Glen­tree in Hamp­stead, where mul­ti­mil­lion houses are sta­ple fare and thor­ough­ness is im­por­tant. “This will speed up the con­veyanc­ing process and min­imise gazump­ing dur­ing the vul­ner­a­ble pe­riod be­tween agree­ment and ex­change. It will re­ju­ve­nate the mar­ket.” There are un­doubt­edly real prob­lems with Hips. In Lam­beth, where only two searches per day are pro­cessed, there is now a six-week wait­ing list. “We are ad­vis­ing clients that if they want to sell in the spring they’ll need to com­mit now,” says Ivor Dick­in­son of Dou­glas & Gor­don in Lon­don. “But even then, buy­ers’ solic­i­tors are in­sist­ing on their own searches as well – not con­tent with those pro­vided. With spring be­ing the busiest time of year for new in­struc­tions, the wait could be up to three or four months.” As Lon­don, in spite of the re­ces­sion, has been cop­ing with a sur­prise flurry of sales and price rises, the frus­tra­tion is pal­pa­ble. But does it ac­tu­ally stop peo­ple putting their houses on the mar­ket? “In the past, 20 per cent of our sales would be to spec­u­la­tive sell­ers,” Dick­in­son says. “They were peo­ple who put a prop­erty on the mar­ket to see what they could get. Then if they found some­thing they liked, they moved. Th­ese sales no longer ex­ist. We are op­er­at­ing at half the stock lev­els of 2008 and two-thirds the ap­pli­cants.” There are more wor­ries for buy­ers. Canny ones de­cide to

Hip re­place­ment: is it the end for the gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive?

do their own lo­cal au­thor­ity searches. Debbie Pash­ford, a blog­ger on the web­site hip­con­sul­, found that plans to paint dou­ble yel­low lines out­side a house she was buy­ing and gar­den deck­ing with no plan­ning per­mis­sion were re­vealed only by an ex­tra search on top of the Hip one. And searches go out of date when a house re­mains on the mar­ket for a length of time. Each search is only as good as the ques­tions asked and as fresh as the day it was done. As re­vealed by Which? Money, there is also a wide dis­par­ity in the amount peo­ple pay for a Hip. Its re­cent sur­vey re­vealed a gap be­tween the cheapest and the most ex­pen­sive of al­most £300. For a three-bed­room free­hold semi, Coun­try­wide was pricey at £413, while on­line provider Fri­days Prop­erty Lawyers was cheap at £189. On a two-bed­room lease­hold flat, the top price was £516 through Spicer­haart and this was £292 cheaper through Hip Save. “Don’t be fooled into think­ing that you have to buy it from your es­tate agent,” says James Da­ley, ed­i­tor of Which? Money. “Our re­search shows that the most ex­pen­sive high-street agents charge over twice as much as the cheapest on­line Hip providers – so you could save hun­dred of pounds by shop­ping around for the best deal.” Agents say that, for the mo­ment, the En­ergy Per­for­mance Cer­tifi­cate el­e­ment of the pack is rou­tinely dis­re­garded by buy­ers. But, as global warm­ing be­comes more of an is­sue, we may all start to take more no­tice.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.