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Ea's Breaking Law By Not Ordering Home Information

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7538327.stm

Some estate agents in England and Wales are breaking the law by marketing properties without ordering a Home Information Pack, the BBC has learned.

The Law Society says in some cases, Hips are not available until weeks after the property goes on the market.

It believes sellers are reluctant to pay for the pack when the housing market is slowing.

The packs, which can cost up to £400 and contain information such as deeds and searches, were launched a year ago.

The packs also contain other information useful to any potential buyer such as any recent planning permission or building consent given on the property, and an energy performance certificate.

This week the government said it was consulting on whether the packs should include more information.

There is also criticism from some sellers that when they do get a Home Information Pack, buyers never ask to see them.

Upfront information

The packs were controversial even before they were first introduced for some homes last August, and a year later the controversy shows little sign of dying down.

The idea behind Hips was that they would give buyers more upfront information about the property before they made an offer, and reduce the chances of a sale falling through.

However, in the current troubled housing market, it seems some estate agents are not commissioning Hips when the property goes on the market, something which by law they are supposed to do.

According to Paul Marsh, president of the Law Society, the practice is common across England and Wales.

"The evidence we're receiving from right across the country, be it Cornwall, London or the North East England, is that solicitors are not receiving a Hip when the deal is struck.

"You would have expected that the Hip would be available immediately the agreement [to accept an offer] is reached.

"We're not getting a Hip until three to four weeks later, sometimes not until exchange of contracts."

'Aggravation' I've had a Hip in place since November and... nobody's ever asked to see it although we've told them that there is one available

Joan Newcomb, home seller

Mr Marsh also said that sellers were not convinced by Hips.

"Sellers don't see the point of them, they certainly don't want the aggravation of putting them together and nobody wants to pay the cost in what is a flat market."

Henry Pryor, who set up the property website Primemove.com, has calculated that at least one in 10 of all sellers do not have a Home Information Pack.

"About 130,000 houses went onto the market in May, but only 89,000 Hips were commissioned," he said.

"Some of that shortfall would have been made up by people who sacked their first estate agent because they failed to sell the house, and instructed a new agent. They don't need to commission a Hip.

"However, we think about 15,000 people put their house on the market without first commissioning a HIP."

Money well spent?

By law, anyone who wants to sell their home in England or Wales has to commission a Hip before their property can go on the market, although they do not have to have the finished pack in place. If using an estate agent, they should ensure that has happened.

On average a Hip costs between £300 and £400 - and although the vast majority of those who put their property on the market do obey the law, they are not all convinced that it is money well spent.

Joan Newcomb, from Redhill in Surrey, put her four-bedroom house on the market last September.

Her Hip took over two months to arrive and cost about £300.

"If I had the choice now I wouldn't buy a Hip. I can't see what value it has," she said.

"I've had a Hip in place since November and it hasn't helped us sell the house at all. Nobody's ever asked to see it although we've told them that there is one available."

Transaction times

However, according to LMS, which is the biggest provider of Home Information Packs, the fact that buyers are not interested in a Hip does not mean they are worthless.

It says that the firm's own research has indicated that Hips are reducing transaction times.

"The Home Information Pack itself, the majority of the information is quite technical like title like searches and it's not really for the interest of the individual consumer," said Dominic Toller of LMS.

"Buying a home is still quite an emotional decision. The idea is that once you've made that emotional decision you've chosen the house you want to buy and you turn to your professional adviser, your conveyancer, a whole pile of the information they need is already available for them."

The government says that Hips are already bringing down the price of property searches by improving transparency in the house buying process.

This week it announced it wanted to add a property information questionnaire to a Hip, while Scotland is planning to introduce its own version of a Hip from 1 December this year.

Edited by Scott

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  • 396 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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