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HIPs Are Here To Stay - but they have to Improve

Margaret Beckett the Housing Minister said as much in giving evidence about the effectiveness of Home Information Packs this week to the local government select committee.

The Minister commented "I think that given their limitations they have some degree of beneficial impact, but I fully accept that they're not the perfect vehicle we might wish for. I accept they're not working to the potential they could"

Mrs Beckett dismissed Conservative calls to abolish HIPs by stating " I don't think there is any point in suspending the scheme. It's not really something that's going to make a big difference as to how the housing market is going"

This is a genuine reflection on the impact of Home Information Packs, as it is still too soon to judge their real impact with the Housing Market in such a parlous state.

The current housing slump has neither helped nor hindered the role of the Home Information Pack. Any clear benefit that might have been obtained has been eliminated by the length of time to sell a property or the scarcity of mortgage finance. Both direct results of the Credit Crunch.

The next phase of the development of Home Information Packs will be the "exchange ready" HIP. This will include draft contracts for sale, planning information and copies of planning permissions and building regulation approvals,and replies to standard enquires plus a full official local authority search ( not the incomplete personal searches which have sprung up exponentially since the introduction of Home Information Packs). These HIPs will cut the time to exchange contracts by providing solicitors and conveyancers with relevant information upon which they can immediately act. it would also be essential for the Buyer to have mortgage finance agreed in principle before making an offer to purchase a property.

The Conservatives are still in the process of compiling information on HIPs. Their current stance is one of hostility towards HIPs .It would be highly unlikely they would seek to scrap a product which although flawed at inception had evolved into something worthwhile and value for money.