An opportunity to steal a march on the HIP ostriches

For more years than I care to admit I have endeavoured not to be known by friends or colleagues as either a prophet of doom or as one who wears rose tinted spectacles.

So I’m finding it difficult to decide what sort of picture to paint with regard to the forthcoming introduction of Home Information Packs.

But just as was the case with the widespread apathy towards Mortgage Day, I predict many will once again bury their heads in the sand like proverbial ostriches at the thought of preparing for HIPs.

Those who are switched on will need no reminding that HIPs will be introduced by order of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in early 2007. Going off on a tangent for a second, it’s time to scrap the ODPM as it was only formed in the first place to appease John Prescott, with his access to the might of the unions.

Now that Big John has taken a back seat in terms of political profile it is safe to dismantle this title and department without the likelihood of getting on the receiving end of a wicked left our ‘Enry would have been proud of.

Sorry about that short detour, I’ll put my soapbox away and continue.

Whilst to some a year seems like an eternity, many, in preparing for the impact of HIPs on our industry – and their incomes – might wish they had more than a year to get themselves ready.

Using my experience, I will take the cautious approach and advise all and sundry to take action now in preparing for HIPs.

Specialist HIP companies springing up by the day and property surveyors are already rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of the tills ringing.

But what about brokers? Whatever the technical implications may be, the main effect on brokers will be that they lose some control of the mortgage process.

I won’t even try to explain the complexity of the HIP as, 12 months ago I asked my friend Peter Bolton-King, CEO of the National Association of Estate Agents, to help me write an idiots’ guide to HIPs as he had been involved in negotiations with the top brass about this baby since its conception.

He declined, assuring me it was a minefield. I got the distinct feeling the NAEA was opposed to the idea. But that was then and just as we in the mortgage industry have to move on, I’m sure the NAEA will take a positive line now HIPs are something we will all have to live with.

One thing’s for sure, HIPs will have an impact on your business so you should take steps to ensure you align with the movers and shakers involved in HIPs. I’m a keen advocate of affinity alliances to gain access to people who can put business your way, so now is the time to get into bed with the right partner. The last thing you want to hear later on is, “We already have an agreement with a broker”.

So, not a case of HIP, HIP hooray but at least an opportunity to steal a march on the ostriches.