Cunning HIP plan was fatally flawed from the beginning

I’d like to congratulate you on the ‘A-Z of HIPs’ cover story in the May 28 issue of Mortgage Strategy. Since they were first mooted, Home Information Packs have been poorly thought out.

One of the main rationales for the introduction of HIPs was to speed up the house buying process by preventing sales from falling through due to surveys.

So what was the government’s solution? A Home Condition Report as part of the HIP. This would prevent purchasers having their own surveys carried out, Whitehall said.

But it’s my understanding that less than 5% of sales fall through due to surveys. Also, the Council of Mortgage Len-ders stated that lenders would still require surveys to be carried out. On top of all that, there was a shortage of trained surveyors to carry out HCRs.

With many surveyors training at their own not inconsiderable cost, the government then did a U-turn and said that the HCR would not be statutory but rather optional. There would be lots of takers for that – not.

Energy Performance Certificates were only retained to keep Brussels happy. What will they include? Cavity wall insulation, double glazing and low energy light bulbs? Will the light bulbs have to form part of the contracts with solicitors?

The only people who will gain from this shambles if it ever sees the light of day are HIP providers and estate agents who will take a cut from them.

Communities secretary Ruth Kelly and housing minister Yvette Cooper appear to speak from a wealth of inexperience. Their latest idea – HIPs being required only for properties with four or more bedrooms – reminds me of Bal-drick’s famous line in Blackadder: “I have a cunning plan.”

And how will estate agents describe four-bedroom properties from now on – ‘On the second floor, the property has three bedrooms, an office and a separate computer room’?

Kevin Thornton
MT Financial Services