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HIPs are unpopular and often lead to search duplication

As a provider of conveyancing services to the public we speak to hundreds of home buyers and sellers every month and find that sellers consider Home Information Packs to be a nuisance and an unnecessary expense.

We recently spoke to a seller who ordered a HIP online and was defrauded. The HIP firm took payment on his credit card twice and did not provide a pack. It was operating from a business service address and the phone is no longer answered.

We spoke to another buyer who found that searches had been done on the wrong property and when they went back to the HIP company to complain they found it was in administration, so had to pay for another HIP.

Buyers are generally unaware of the availability of HIPs. Many now source properties to view online and make offers over the phone.

Also, in our experience the majority of estate agents do not promote HIPs or advise buyers of their existence.

In the 18 months since the packs were introduced we have spoken to just two buyers out of thousands who have read their HIPs.

On our website we offer buyers the services of a solicitor to read their pack and report on it to them before an offer is made. We have not received a single query in relation to this service.

The searches enclosed in HIPs are of varying quality and some do not provide sufficient information, so buyers’ solicitors must do them again. Also, many packs are now out of date and buyers are having to either pay for new searches or search insurance. So it’s clear there is considerable duplication of searches.

We also have some concerns about the property information questionnaires to be completed by sellers without solicitors’ guidance. We doubt these will be considered legally binding in court so it’s a pointless exercise as buyers will not be able to rely on them.

We have repeatedly stated that what buyers want to see when buying a property is a physical survey such as a Home Buyer’s Report or Home Condition Report.

They want a fixtures, fittings and contents list showing what is to be included with the property along with information such as environmental searches and the cost of basic utilities.

And if it’s a leasehold property, they want some basic leasehold information such as the term of the lease, the years left to run, the ground rent and service charge payments.

Sharon Buthlay

Property Lawyer & Director

CMS

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