Tory senior hints that Home Information Packs could be back if Conservatives win

Home Information Packs are firmly back on the agenda.

In an interview on the Eddie Mair show, Tory politician Michael Gove said that the idea could be revisited by a new Conservative government.

The former Shadow housing minister, asked by Mair about its manifesto plans to revise the home buying process, said: What we can revisit is to look at the way, in the past, some of the arguments behind Home Information Packs which Labour hoped to deliver before 2010 had some validity.

“The implementation of HIPs was botched but we can look again at this process.

“I wouldn’t want to pre-judge what the outcome is but we all know that the process of buying a home can be complex and it can be the case sometimes that the same information has to be generated more than once.”

Gove was shadow housing minister, speaking for the Tories,  when Labour was last in power. He held no housing brief under either the coalition or Cameron governments. However, his words now suggest a possible return to a housing role.

Former conveyancer and now CEO of the Bold Legal Group Rob Hailstone said he was not surprised at the possible return of HIPs.

He said:“HIPs weren’t perfect, we all know that, but the up-front provision of information can, and still does help.

“I was at a meal that Grant Shapps attended before their demise and I asked him if he would not simply throw the baby out with the bathwater, but suspend HIPs for a while and review what had taken place since their implementation. He was having none of it, they were being scrapped. I remember telling him that he would end up with egg on his face. Would he prefer them fried, scrambled or boiled I wonder?

“As all EYE readers know buying a home is probably the most important transaction that most people undertake in their lifetime. The Government (and others) need to understand that, and before the meddling goes too far, need to liaise with those at the coal face for once.”

For those interested, the Gove/Mair exchange is 25 minutes in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08q3184

See also our other story today about manifesto promises.

 

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19 Comments

  1. Chris Wood

    As someone one closely associated with HIPS at the time (along with Nick Salmon at PIE and others), I believe we can all agree that the Conveyancing system needs to change including the provision of information.

    The new government should be bold. A move to an American/ continental style system where agents are licensed, have to ensure all of the Information is correct in advance, a legal and condition pack prepared, that buyers finances must be guaranteed before making an offer and that legally enforceable time limits are imposed on all parties and suppliers (including lenders and the transaction process itself). Dons helmet and dives for cover….

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    1. Mark Walker

      Prospective governments, especially those who have had, say, 7 years already, should have their policies, or at the very least proposals, in place and not just ‘hints’.
       

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    2. Bless You

      They also charge 5% in America…. dont put more work on the agent..we do the solictors job now for free. ( unless you enjoy sales chasing)   

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  2. Rob Hailstone

    Like your reference to ‘bold’ Chris:)

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    1. Chris Wood

      Commission cheque in the post Rob?

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  3. revilo

    Chris,

    Can we all play a game and think up a name for this new method?

    ROFL….

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    1. Chris Wood

      Would be rude not to

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  4. Bless You

    I think buyers  and sellers should somehow share the cost for an impartial report which saves on valuers and surveyors bills.

    Also same for stamp duty…if seller paid 1/2 this would help as a lot of sales are disposal and so would just be a tax on profit and not all with the buyer.

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  5. smile please

    Complete waste of time and money and at present we already have too few properties on the market as a nation all this will do is stop more coming to the market.

    The only thing (other than a change in attitude conveyancers have – another subject!) needed is sellers request and pay for a management pack on leasehold properties sooner in the process be that at point of instruction or point of an agreed offer. Too many wait weeks to apply for this and in-turn management company spend weeks sending it out.

    I assume most good agents already list the maintenance, ground rent and years unexpired on a lease when advertising a property?

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    1. Rob Hailstone

      The Bold Legal Group, Conveyancing Association, Society of Licensed Conveyancers (with the knowledge of the Law Society) have put together and submitted suggested comprehensive reforms to leasehold and the way managing agents behave. If anyone would like a copy, email me at rh@boldgroup.co.uk.

      Smile Please, below is an extract of a message I sent to my member firms yesterday:

      Conveyancing has changed over the last two decades. Long gone are the safer days of title checking and face to face completions etc. Title checking is now only part of the job (albeit a very important part). You now have to be experts on surveys, valuations, money laundering, fraud prevention, identity theft, search content, etc. You also have to be tax collectors and clairvoyant and know what the other side has done and whether they have done it correctly and thoroughly. Are you being paid more for all of this work and responsibility, no, in many cases you are being paid less.

      This is a downward spiral and the Government (and others) needs to understand that lower conveyancing fees will mean an increase in volume of work for many to survive. An increase in volume means less time spent with each client and less time wearing the many hats you now have on your hat stand. As a result it is possible that fewer frauds etc will be spotted early on and more of the general public will suffer.

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      1. P-Daddy

        The reality is that with all of the online conveyancers, poorly reactive solicitors administering the process and how the insurance companies and solicitors blame each other, this is why conveyancing gets bogged down and adds to significant delays and stress. Enquiries are raised relentlessly until someone makes a mistake of sends an incorrect answer, therefore the blame and risk for being sued is mitigated and passed to the other side. Oh hang on a minute….lets just write out an indemnity policy and ask for that premium. If you are correctly trained and qualified,give the clients the benefit of that expertise…as surveyors should too! Toda I am speaking to 6 sets of solicitors all blaming each other for the delays, and do you know there is only 1 mortgage in all of those transactions.

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  6. Property Peep

    Decent solicitors on both sides ………………… problem solved.

    This is just another level of red tape, which just adds expense to an already expensive process.

    Although I do like Chris Woods idea, we could start increasing fee’s !!

     

     

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  7. NickTurner

    Like so many policies from Governements of various political colours it is often the implementation that cocks its up. Poll Tax and Hips to name two. The EPC was only kept on to satisfy EU regs

    In respect of HIps yes lets get around a table and discuss how from a very practical way it can work and be implimented. With all respect to some of the Governement academic advisors they need to listen to agents, vendors and purchasers at the coal face who know what goes on in a day to day business.Forget the theory.

    I have recently advised a vendor on the sale of a building plot that will be marketed by a mainstream high street agent  and on my advice the solicitors have drawn up the contract, searches have been done and all information available for a purchaser to proceed  without any delay when the agent recommends which purchaser to go with.

    Who pays? I think it a good idea for the vendor to  share the cost by way of 50% reimbursement with the eventual purchaser of the pre sale pack. Makes both the vendor and the purchaser think very seriously about entereing into the market rather than toe dipping and wasting agents time. Yes we may loose a few toe dippers who actually do buy/sell but for those few how many remain toe dippers, cost an agent a lot of money in lost time and eventallytake their toes out of the water?

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  8. Nick Salmon, M.D. Property Industry Eye

    If (very big if) the Tories do get serious about HIPs the possible saving grace is that Michael Gove was an exceptionally able shadow housing minister in respect of understanding the home buying process and the pitfalls of the pack as proposed by Labour. He’d be a useful sounding board for the incumbent minister if they want to form a proposal.

    Above all it is to be hoped that they don’t repeat the stupid intransigence of successive Labour ministers who were wedded to policy rather than practicality.

     

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    1. Chris Wood

      Amen brother!

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  9. Woodentop

    The home buyer process is always going to be first steps to walking, you can’t get up and run. Current conveyancing and liability does not allow the old style HIP to work and all we are talking about is getting accurate, reliable and acceptable information to the buyer quicker if bringing back some sort of HIP.

     

    IT facilities are there but so disorganised. Mortgages are agreed in principle very quickly, often same day. Local authority searches information etc is available same day but provided weeks later. Survey is often done within 7 days. That leaves conveyancing who in the main wait for all the former to arrive = average 8 weeks plus another week to complete after exchange.

     

    Pray tell which one can you make quicker?

     

    Local authority searches = yes, if on-line but that’s government control. Fat chance. Solution = take it away to the private sector? Rather than have a pack with a shelf life for all the legal reasons, realtime 24/7 data access would solve issues.

    Mortgage Offers = How good is the respondents to enquiries and call centre turnaround = how long is a piece of string!

    Survey = Instant reports via realtime on-line IT upload as currently in use by some energy performance assessors. Only days saved but chips away at delays.

    Conveyancing = far too much pen pushing and sitting for days in-trays and lack of use of email/IT. Must have original document syndrome, yet solicitors are allowed to certify original documents in life. Solution = time management, set targets and drop the quill? Weeks can be saved if only the conveyancing system could be overhauled, that is the main area where time can be saved by weeks.

     

    Summary: You have knocked off two or three weeks on the average case to complete (simplified). But is that what they are trying to do, same time on completing a sale or is it to provide information upfront for  a buyer to review? The latter is squarely back in governments own departments being on-line.

     

    And before anyone says what about this scenario and that, agreed but it would help all those cases that do not need to take so long.

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  10. Rob Hailstone

    I refer to my post above at 10.05. Get agents to carry out more/better fraud, ID, AML checks etc and free up the conveyancers time, so they do what they are being paid to do, the conveyancing. Agents usually meet the owners at the property they are selling, what a great way and time to check their ID etc!

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    1. smile please

      Hmmmm
      If this becomes manadorty that we do this on behalf of conveyancers i can see our PI shooting up.
      But to be fair it is a more sensible suggestion than HIPs!
      Problem is i still have conveyancers that will not accept us (or our mortgage brokers) verifying I.D.
       

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      1. Woodentop

        Conveyancing is only part of the delay, this is not intended to be an attack (although I have experienced some pretty ugly conveyancing over the years …. a minority), as many can tell a few stories. It is the system of conveynacing that needs overhauling. It really hasn’t changed for decades, clumbersome with documentation and liability concerns for themselves and even as far as dislike for agents getting involved in the process or as some call it interferring. IT is where they can save themselves alot of time and effort (like ID checks without worrying about some spotty faced kid out of school in the estate agent compromising them) and transfer of documents instantly. But I still maintain the first step to improvment is getting searches on-line for instant information. The legal profession need to adapt to the new century and stop weighing itself down with its own outdated due process.

         

        As it happens we always confirm ID of both seller and buyer, but never found a solicitor that will accept because of your own rules. This also applies to mortgage lenders. ML Regs need revising.

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