Yes, Home Information Packs will make a differ-ence because they will make home transactions faster, easier, more successful and less stressful.
This is based on our practical experience rather than the assumptions and speculation of those now turning HIPs into a political football.
The key objectives of HIPs are to save home buyers and sellers money, speed up the transaction process and provide a vehicle for introducing Energy Performance Certificates, which will be required for every dwelling because of a European Union directive. No-one would dispute that each of these objectives benefits consumers and society as a whole. The issue is whether HIPs can deliver.
Our experience of managing thousands of mini-HIPs during our pack development and the government’s dry run is that on average they save two to three days from agreement of sale to exchange of contracts when compared with the status quo.
HIPs also reduce wastage by giving sellers and buyers information upfront, so a more informed decision can be made earlier and fewer surprises are sprung later.
At the point of marketing, HIPs are an excellent vehicle for carrying out EPCs, informing buyers and sellers about the energy efficiency of properties and providing timely advice for improvements.
In addition, the new technology and systems developed for HIPs are driving down data gathering and conveyancing costs. Finally, people who have used HIPs report their transactions are easier and smoother and have greater confidence they will go through – even more so when Home Condition Reports are included.
HIPs may not be the total answer, but they are a major improvement and will make a positive difference to clients.
The answer is maybe. As many individuals and companies have pointed out, we don’t know what the impact of HIPs will be on consumers or the housing market. The packs and their related systems have not been tested sufficiently in a live environment.
I think HIPs will hinder the free market we now enjoy, causing less people to put their homes on the market. In the short term, my instinct is that HIPs will affect market liquidity, with vendors unwilling to be guinea pigs holding off selling until things settle down.
The summer is a slow period anyway, but estate agents and financial advisers are likely to experience a moribund market throughout the autumn and Christmas periods as well because of HIPs.
The Home Condition Report was marketed to the industry as being beneficial for consumers, but to my mind it was just a cunning Whitehall plan to gather information about the UK’s housing stock on the cheap.
It’s garbage that they are good for consumers – lenders and buyers wouldn’t trust an HCR as far as they could throw it and will insist on their own valuations. This will result in a doubling of costs.
Energy Performance Certificates at the marketing stage are complete overkill and won’t change the price of eggs. If consumers like houses and want to buy, they will – double glazing or loft insulation can always be installed later.
Speeding up the buying and selling process is a good thing, but insisting on HIPs at the point of marketing is pointless.
Evidence of title, local searches and energy efficiency information being organised by sellers no later than the time properties are sold makes far more sense and would benefit consumers more.