Home Information Packs were first proposed back in 2004 and started gracing us with their presence in late 2007 – which was great timing obviously, given the impending housing crash.
I was a vocal opponent at the time, even if the thinking behind HIPs had merit.
The introduction was botched, adding cost upfront – which agents often ended up having to shoulder – and their usefulness was watered down.
Political will seemed to ebb away and eventually after a lacklustre career they were binned in May 2010 when the Coalition arrived.
As recently as April Fools’ Day 2016 one of the recent plethora of housing ministers suggested they should come back, and although there’s been chat nothing seems to have come out of the woodwork – yet.
Frankly, when agents face challenging times, moving costs are high and politicians are somewhat distracted, it’ll take a brave minister to think about it now.
Completely by coincidence I’ve been involved in no fewer than three discussion groups considering questions posed by the newly named Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government.
It is looking at ways to improve the home buying process from the point of view of those paying for or using services, i.e. buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants.
This includes how technology might help, how redress/regulation can be tightened/simplified and how the legal process can be strengthened to avoid unnecessary cost implications from gazumping and gazundering.
It seems to me that both the above can be largely answered by looking at some of the companies that now produce seemingly absurdly cheap solutions for agents requiring information about properties on which they are doing appraisals, stuff that’ll set them apart from competitors.
I’ve been staggered by how cheaply companies like Sprift and One Dome can produce data that would have filled a HIP.
Detail available at the click of a button can now include such niceties as tree preservation orders and a simple owner’s manual telling you who has done what to a property and when.
The usual legal bumf is a doddle.
One of the main issues in the past was cost, but no longer, and solicitors I’ve spoken to, and let’s face it if you’re going to speed the process up we know where the acceleration needs to come from, are somewhat puzzled as to why these companies haven’t been marketing to them?
I reckon there are answers out there but perhaps there are too many vested interests in the way to allow them to be seen?