Consumers’ needs are being sidelined in the HIP debate

From Louise Hanson

Isabelle Kassam is keen to stress that Home Information Packs are an “expensive new layer of complexity” in the housing market (Mortgage Strategy 29 May), but fails to appreciate that they will undoubtedly make the house buying process more transparent and therefore more consumer-focussed.

You wouldn’t expect to buy a car without seeing proof that it was in working order – an MOT fulfils that purpose. Similarly you shouldn’t expect to buy a house – the biggest purchase most of us ever make – without knowing upfront what its failings are. A HIP fulfils that purpose.

The HIP is just one of several initiatives which will put consumers in a stronger position in the housing market including e-conveyancing and a mandatory redress mechanism for estate agents.

All the information that will be included in the HIP excluding the Home Condition Report already has to be paid for once an offer has been made so this is not a new cost. It is simply giving buyers access to information upfront to help them make the right choices.

A HIP will be paid for by the seller not the “cash-strapped home buyer”, meaning the buyer won’t spend money on a survey only to discover that their dream home has structural problems. And as most buyers are also vendors, the costs even out.

While it’s not surprising that estate agents and others in the property industry have not welcomed HIPs, it is disappointing that the needs of consumers are being pushed to the sidelines.

Louise Hanson Head of campaigns

Which? London