OneSearch Direct welcomes HIP regulation

OneSearch Direct has welcomed the publication of regulations for Home Information Packs and in particular applauded the commitment by the Department for Communities and Local Government to make “local searches cheaper and faster.”

It says the introduction of HIPs will necessitate quick and efficient compilation of the pack’s key components, including the local search.

In September 2005, an Office of Fair Trading study found that property information held by local authorities in England and Wales should be made more readily available to people buying and selling property and their agents.

Ronnie Park, managing director of OneSearch Direct, says: “The statement by the DCLG is the strongest signal yet that the search industry will be opened up to full competition before June 2007.

“We have been calling for a level playing field – allowing private search providers and home buyers access to the information held by local authorities – for years.

“Open access for all will ensure fast delivery of searches and a competitively priced product for the consumer.

“Furthermore, with the advent of HIPs we will see the major HIP providers buying in key elements of the pack, such as searches, in high volumes from suppliers which will inevitably mean a better deal for the customer.”

Fiona Hoyle, chairman of the Council of Property Search Organisations, adds: “The government’s assurance that it will create a framework for faster and more cost-effective searches is long-awaited and extremely welcome, but the DCLG needs to take immediate action to implement the OFT’s recommendations in order to ensure that this can be delivered in time for the launch of HIPs in June 2007.”

OneSearch Direct, which expects to provide around 50% of all local searches in England and Wales when HIPs become mandatory and is gearing up to be a key Home Condition Report provider, also welcomed the regulations relating to the content of the HCR.

Park says: “The regulations require electronic ordering, delivery and digital storage of HCR’s, ensuring heightened efficiency for the consumer.

“We have been readying our systems in anticipation of this for some time and see it as a crucial step in bringing the conveyancing industry closer to a wholly electronic model.”