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You can choose to be a HIP loser or winner

Now that we have had a couple of weeks to consider the government’s decision to make the Home Condition Report element of Home Information Packs voluntary rather than compulsory, it is a good time to consider who are the winners and losers.

The obvious winners should be home owners. If not, there would be no point in the government making the changes it did.

If cutting cost is one criterion for being a winner, consumers have certainly benefited. Not having to include an HCR will strip about 300 out of the cost of a HIP, leaving the final likely price of a pack at 300 or thereabouts.

Most of the items that are still included in HIPs such as searches would have to be paid for anyway, so the additional cost is now fairly small.

I guess the environment is also a winner. Energy efficiency ratings will encourage home owners to be more environmentally friendly and, what’s more, the Energy Savings Trust estimates that by following recommendations made in the energy performance certificate, the average home owner will save 300 a year on fuel bills. Which, by coincidence, is about the cost of a HIP.

The government is also a winner as it doesn’t have to lose face by withdrawing HIPs and, most importantly, is still able to comply with the EU directive that makes energy performance certificates compulsory before 2009.

What about the losers? An awful lot of companies have invested time and money in preparing for HIPs, so will they lose out? If you take eConveyancer as an example, it’s business as usual for us. HIPs still need to be produced – they will simply not include HCRs (on a compulsory basis anyway), and we will still be in the business of collating and distributing this data electronically. Nothing changes.

Some HIP providers will have had business models based on generating 700 to 1,000 per pack rather than 300 per pack which it is likely to be. Of course, they won’t now have to pay for HCRs but some profit projections may have to be rewritten.

For organisations that were basing possible stock market flotations or sales on the back of HIPs, this has been a setback.

And what about home inspectors? They will still be needed to produce energy efficiency ratings and HCRs for those home owners who want them. I suspect there will still be a reasonable number of HCRs purchased on a voluntary basis, especially by home owners who know they have nothing to hide and want to sell their properties quickly. But there is no doubt that the income generating opportunity for home inspectors has been substantially reduced by not making HCRs compulsory.

Lenders are winners. They have more time to integrate automated valuation models into their business es and also avoid being blamed by the government for insisting that valuation reports are produced alongside HCRs.

So what about mortgage intermediaries? Well, it’s up to you if you want to be a winner or a loser. The business opportunity to sell HIPs to your clients is still there. Every home seller will need a HIP and you’re in as good a position as anyone else to provide these packs.

Whether you do or not is up to you, but my advice is not to let a business opportunity pass you by. Make sure you’re a winner.


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