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Whingeing about HIPs won’t help now

I’m starting to suspect that Home Information Packs have generated more column inches in the trade press than the regulation of the mortgage market did. The debate over whether HIPs should be introduced or not continues to rage unabated.

This time it’s the Council of Mortgage Lenders which has jumped in with both feet to give the initiative a good kicking. No longer content with sitting on the fence, the CML appears to have moved into the anti-HIP camp.

In a response to the government’s consultation paper, the CML has called for the HIP launch to be postponed until feedback from the trials has been fully evaluated. It also says the government has been slow to recognise the problems with local authority searches and that both these issues should have been addressed ages ago.

Spurred on by the CML, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has joined in, saying the launch of HIPs will be potentially detrimental to the market and consumers.

On March 29 the final HIP regulations will go before Parliament and come into force on April 19, before launch on June 1. So it’s only a few weeks before we reach the point of no return. Although I disagree with the CML’s stance at this late hour, I can’t disagree with its arguments. Sufficient time hasn’t been allowed to evaluate the trials and there are problems with local authority searches, many of which still take far too long. So why am I not joining the CML’s and RICS’ calls to postpone the launch?

Because it won’t make any difference. In fairness to the government, the analysis of the area trials and recommendations included in its consultation document cover all the key issues.

I’ve not heard anyone come up with any points that the government has not covered. For example, it is proposing that sellers can market their homes as soon as Energy Performance Certificates and key legal documents have been obtained, as long as searches have been requested. So local authority delays should not slow the selling process.

I also agree that HIPs are far from perfect. If you were starting with a clean sheet of paper today, you wouldn’t end up with what is just about to be implemented. But that does not mean HIPs should be delayed or abandoned.

The time for talk has ended. What will make the difference between success and failure will be the commitment of companies to get behind HIPs. The CML and RICS should therefore focus their considerable influence on finding solutions to outstanding issues with HIPs.

On a separate subject, eConveyancer was delighted to win the best conveyancer award and be highly commended in the innovator of the year category at the Mortgage Strategy Awards. My head is still suffering.

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