Focus on the facts and don’t believe HIP hype

It appears the marketing men are having a field day with Home Information Packs.

I recently spoke to a company that had been on the receiving end of a series of presentations from potential HIP providers.

The firm’s staff were weighed down under a mountain of glossy brochures, doorstop-sized proposal documents and clever little memory sticks containing just about every fact about HIPs you could wish to know – just in case you want to remind yourself of them at 3am.

I am amazed so much marketing material has been produced so early in the process of the introduction of HIPs. The government hasn’t even released all the information necessary for us to be sure how the scheme will work so how on earth can these companies produce such detailed propositions at this stage? It beats me.

For example, the government is shortly to release some more information about the regulations governing the content of packs and details about business and technical standards that will be en- forced, including procedures concerning the handling of complaints and offering clients redress.

The government’s baseline research into the market will also be made available.

When this information is in the public domain everyone in the industry will be in a much better position to formulate their plans.

I can only conclude that most of the proposals being touted about at the moment have more to do with gloss and marketing puff than substance. My advice is to bin the brochures and focus on the facts.

The facts are that HIPs are not with us yet so no company can claim to have any experience in producing these documents.

Would-be providers are groping around in the dark to some extent because the government has yet to shed light on the facts about how the packs will work.

You can therefore either believe the claims being made in the brochures or base your judgement on these companies’ experience and ability to offer similar services.

My analysis shows that some providers may be good with technology and others may understand the housing or legal markets, but few have experience of delivering technology-led solutions for consumers that are tailored to the needs of brokers. The club is small.

As you go about the task of doing your research, make sure that you place as much importance on a company’s track record and the reputation it enjoys with its clients as you do on the claims it makes about its ab-ility to deliver a robust HIP service.

Finally, also remember to check up on the company’s status. Is it independent and transparent in everything it does or does it have a vested interest that may not work in your favour?

We are still a year away from the HIP launch day with big gaps still in our knowledge. Draw up your shortlists by all means, but identify your selection criteria with care.