Friday 7 May 2010

Home Information Packs - again

With the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats "promising" to abolish HIPs, it may instead be worth considering whether they can be improved to make them good value for money.

The recurrent problem we are experiencing at present is the delay in getting searches. We get sent a lot of incomplete HIPs, then have to keep checking to see whether searches are added.
This seems to be because of the same old problem: selling down to a price, rather than up to a standard, and getting personal searches (as cheaper) rather than official ones. To my mind, this makes no sense: on the one hand, people get what they pay for and a cheap personal search is likely to be full of errors and omissions; on the other hand, most official searches are (a) speedy - speedier than cheap personal ones, certainly - and usually not very expensive. On the rare occasions we get asked to prepare a HIP, we always recommend official searches, in an effort to make them as exchange-ready as possible

On a related aspect, many properties have more than one registered title, yet this seems to astonish amateurish HIP providers - I was having great difficulty explaining to one such earlier this week that my client's access and courtyard was in a different title to the house and, yes, both titles were essential

The single best thing that could be done to improve HIPs would be to require them to include a draft contract (omitting the price and buyer's details, of course) and a full property details questionnaire. This would make them virtually exchange-ready and would have the extra benefit of removing the need for the sale statement and the almost-useless property information questionnaire.

This will not happen yet, of course, as it would mean only solicitors and licensed conveyancers could prepare the contract part, though this should change next year, and there will never be agreement on what the PDQ should contain - unless the government actually thinks it worthwhile consulting the people who know: property professionals

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