Home Information Packs (HIP's - originally called Sellers’ Packs) were first mooted back in 1997 before their introduction to the Housing market ten years later in August 2007.
HIPs had a short life.
One of the first actions of the new coalition government was to scrap HIPs in May 2010.
Fast forward to May 20th, 2017 and a headline in the Times newspaper:
Welcome to Chapter 30 of our Series, your Conveyancing Questions Answered All in One Place: Will HIPS Be Replaced?
The concept of HIPS was appealing.
The Conveyancing process was slow and cumbersome so why waste time waiting for a house to be sold when you could start the conveyancing process at the same time?
"The Conveyancing process was slow and cumbersome so why waste time waiting for a house to be sold when you could start the conveyancing process at the same time?"
The longer the time between agreeing to a sale and completion, the longer the period of stress and vulnerability to the sale falling through.
When Sellers’ Packs were first considered it was an attempt to counteract Gazumping which was rife in some parts of the country at the time.
HIPS would also deter the non-serious toe-dippers. The toe-dippers would also have to dip their hands into their pockets and pay for a HIP upfront. Toe-Dippers as the name suggest often agreed on a sale or purchase only to change their minds later on.
Much to admire, but it may not come as a surprise that the Government preferred dogma over consultations with the industry and the result was a half-cocked, half- baked mishmash unloved by most Estate Agents, Conveyancers and Surveyors.
From August 2007 it was a legal requirement that before you put your property on the market for sale, you were required to have a HIP available.
HIPs were composed of basic legal information such as, either Land Registry documents proving title or what is known as an Abstract or Epitome of Title where the property was older and had not been registered at the Land Registry, a plan of the property and searches such as Local Authority Searches, and a Drainage Search.
There was also an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) designed to test and rate the energy efficiency of a property.
What Survived HIPS
The EPC is the sole survivor of the HIP cull.
An EPC is still a requirement before you are able to put your property on the market. The important difference is that it needn’t hold up the marketing. The HIP must be available within 28 days.
An EPC costs on average, between £40 and £100.
What does an EPC contain?
An Energy Performance Certificate is prepared after a Domestic Energy Assessor carries out an inspection of your Property.
The purpose of this inspection is to calculate how energy efficient and environmentally friendly your property is.
The certificate is drawn up, detailing the costs of running your property, how much Carbon Dioxide it produces per year, a summary of how certain features of your property affect its rating and measures that can be adopted to save money and improve the properties energy efficiency.
All in easy to understand fridge type ratings from A-G
From 20th May 2010, there is a duty on the person acting on behalf of the seller, normally the Estate Agent or the Seller’s Solicitors (if the sale is private) to be satisfied that an EPC has been commissioned before marketing is begun. Fixed penalties will apply for a breach of these regulations.
Will HIPS return?
It’s strange as Michael Gove actually campaigned against HIPS when he was the shadow housing minister.
Michael Gove in an interview on Radio 4 (ahead of the publication of the Conservative manifesto) argued that:
“Some of the arguments behind home information packs...had some validity...
The implementation was botched but we can look again at this process. I wouldn’t want to pre-judge what the outcome is, but we all know the process of buying a home can be complex and it can be the case sometimes that the same information can be generated more than once.”
There was no mention in the Manifesto on HIPs, so Michael Gove may have been a lone discordant voice.
There is no chance that HIPS will return in the foreseeable future.
But, the length of time to get from agreed sale to completion does seem to be getting longer.
Although HIPS are not compulsory, getting your Contract pack in readiness for a Buyer is still a very good idea.
Once you’ve put your house or flat on the market why don’t you pop along to your Conveyancing Solicitor or Conveyancer as well, and get the legal ball rolling.
You know it make sense.