Getting ready to meet the HIP challenge

With so much regulatory change to deal with, managers should not forget an equally significant area of government intervention - Home Information Packs.

The proposals show the perils likely to befall businesses too focussed on a single issue – when this happens it’s a safe bet something just as big and bulky will hit them from the other side.

Plans to introduce HIPs were passed into law last November. Among a series of social housing reforms, the Housing Act makes the provision of an HIP mandatory for residential property sales. With some exemptions, sellers will be required to produce a pack before placing their property on the market. These will have to cover:

  • The terms of salel Evidence of title

  • Replies to standard searches
  • Planning consents, agreements, building control certificates
  • A seller’s property information form
  • Warranties and guarantees
  • The Home Condition Report – a physical condition report including an energy efficiency assessment; plus
  • Additional information on leasehold properties.

Forget Mortgage Day, with estate agents and lenders well placed to capitalise it is imperative intermediary firms consider where they will fit into a post-HIP world. Estate agents and many lenders enjoy a high street presence, and their links to surveyors will be a major benefit in capturing HIP business. Qualified inspectors will be required to complete the Home Condition Report in the packs and firms with any involvement in the home purchase and sale process need to consider their ability to provide or facilitate the provision of this – including those advising on finance for the new mortgage.

AMI has engaged with the government agencies involved with HIP implementation to assess the impact on intermediaries. While few organisations – lenders, intermediaries or estate agencies – have cast iron plans for HIPs, the reforms could be a greater threat than the FSA compliance burden for brokers who ignore them.

The Q1 2007 implementation date (and Q2 2006 dry run) at least means there is time to consider the proposals and for intermediaries to plan their strategies. AMI will be analysing developments in detail and alerting members to potential threats and opportunities.

One certainty facing intermediaries is that one day, customers will ask them how they can help with HIPs. But for the time being, firms must consider what they can do to ensure those clients are there to ask the question in the first place, not being serviced elsewhere.