Why home information packs are not the answer: Singh

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If sellers had to supply key documentation prior to any viewings, it would significantly reduce the completion time

It was surprising to hear home information packs being mentioned so frequently in recent discussions around improvements to the conveyancing process, especially when we had been led to believe they had been consigned to history.

That is not to say some of the fundamentals that underpinned HIPs were not correct or worth pursuing but, while we all want the conveyancing process time to be reduced, they are not the solution.

HIPs contained searches that had to be paid for, that might not have been acceptable to some conveyancers or lenders, and that could be out of date by the time a sale was agreed. What is more, if I was buying a car from you, I would want my mechanic, not yours, to report on it. The same is true of valuations/surveys.

What I would really want is accurate and extensive product particulars and I would want them very early. In that sense, yes, the Conveyancing Association’s desire to deliver better upfront information is on the right track. But we do not need to try and fix the whole system in one go. There are some quick wins.

It is all about the start of the process: once a sale has been agreed. It takes a seller an average of 10 days-plus to complete and return their property information questionnaire to their conveyancer. They cannot even issue a contract to the buyer’s conveyancer until that is returned. If you throw in processing time and post, it takes the seller’s side two weeks to get a contract to the buyer’s side.

What if every seller was made to complete this documentation prior to any viewings? That would shave at least two weeks off the completion time.

We should be fully supportive of any measure that gets us to exchange more quickly. Clients would be so much happier not having to endure so many months of stress and frustration to get into their new property. Seems like a no-brainer…

Harpal Singh is managing director of Broker Conveyancing