Setting to one side (for now) the inept way in which Home Information Packs (HIPs) have been introduced, and assuming (for the sake of this post) that they are, if properly implemented, a Good Thing, the changes that will take effect on 6 April 2009 are likely to have a significant impact for sellers, buyers, estate agents and lawyers. To take a couple of points -
1: The HIP will need to include a Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ). This must contain some information about the property, but it is not clear why the specified information has been selected, and the PIQ will not remove the need for the seller also to supply full, relevant information about the property. It is therefore hard to see how the requirement for a PIQ improves the HIP system. However, it can make the system worse, simply because there will be yet another document needed to complete the HIP and (from 6 April) the agent cannot start marketing the property until the HIP is complete
2: OK, so the PIQ is not difficult to complete, but I anticipate that a lot of sellers will put it to one side, if allowed to, and then complain that the marketing of the property has been delayed! To avoid that, the agent may decide to help the seller complete the PIQ - thereby risking a complaint under the Property Misdescriptions Act if any details are wrong. So, the agent risks delaying the start of marketing or risks a misdescription complaint - what a choice! The solution is (in my biassed view) to pass the responsibility on to the seller's conveyancer: if the seller uses a local conveyancer, the agent can encourage them to pop in to their office to complete the form, minimising the delay and the risk of liability
Or am I wrong? Are HIPs a great improvement, made still better by the PIQ?