The subject of Home Information Packs remains topical.
It seems that the order to initially suspend them as a legal necessity was signed on Friday. They will ultimately be one of the first ‘casualties’ of the new Con Lib coalition Government when they are then abolished. And so there is little point now debating their pros and cons as they are about to bite the legislative dust for good. Good indeed.
HIPs were thought up to make the home moving process quicker, easier and more transparent. They have failed at all of these things abysmally. Broken HIPs and all that…
So what now?
Well, EPCs remain but at what point they will be required to be commissioned is still unclear.
But I asked the question some weeks ago of the then Shadow Housing Minister, Grant Shapps MP, as to what will replace HIPs in an effort to finally sort the delays, stresses and uncertainties within the conveyance of residential property. His reply was that the market would prevail and fix itself. This is a political principle that I wholeheartedly embrace.
However in the case of a million or so property transactions annually that still utilise a legal process that harks from the middle ages, I think that frankly this matter needs more of a legislative steer to help things along.
The remedy, surely, is one of revising contractual obligation. What I mean by that is simply that buyer and seller must be compelled earlier to stick to their chosen transaction and not to abort on a whim, as and when. That is the fundamental problem at play in the property market, not purported bad surveys and gazumping threats, as the ill informed in Whitehall were insistant as their reasoning back in 2003/2004 when the Housing Act was drawn up and ratified.
The fact that parties are not obligated in contractual terms merely allows them to play the weaknesses within the conveyance and to make multiple offers on homes before playing the sellers off and then choosing the most favourable one . Ultimatums of time scale are too readily and forcefully banded about. Withdrawals for reasons of washing lines not being included in a given transaction, prevalent. I kid you not. I have lost deals over old sofas not being left, light fittings, beds and which day or other would be designated as moving day. Ulterior motives abound perhaps, but ‘allowable’ excuses these are none the less.
Pretty much every other country in the world bar those still favouring donkeys over cars, has adopted a more robust and fairer system of selling property than England and Wales (Scotland being way ahead of us).
The new Government has an opportunity to really get things right this time, unlike the last one.
With some thought and, importantly, consultation with the various aspects of the property industry, buyers and sellers, agents, lawyers, lenders and all can begin to approach property selling with a certainty that has never existed previously.
My prediction is that once there is such a buyer/seller ‘lock in’ and less waste accordingly, estate agents will have to charge less. They will no longer be able to use the fact so much (nor indeed will they need to) that their fees are high because of the work they do that they don’t then get paid for.
Good riddance to HIPs and a warm welcome to the 21st Century in prospect? Grown up property selling at last, we hope…
And of course eMoov fees are proper value already, incidentally 😉