HIPS are not 'good value', says Which?

25 March 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
There is little indication that HIPS are making it easier or cheaper to either buy or sell a property, according to an investigation by consumer watchdog Which?

Home Information Packs (HIPS) do not offer good returns for the homeowner or homebuyer, the report found, and the cost can vary greatly from one provider to the next. Many potential buyers and sellers experience difficulty in even securing one, even though sellers have been obliged by law to produce one since the scheme was introduced last year.

Whilst under cover, individuals acting on behalf of Which? approached a number of estate agents posing as potential buyers and attempted to get their hands on a HIP, but very few were forthcoming and the investigators were met with a barrage of excuses, such as the HIP being the private property of the property owner, which is both untrue and somewhat belittles the point of the whole HIPS scheme which is intended to provide information for potential buyers such as energy efficiency.

Quotes for the price of a Home Information Pack were also disparate; they varied greatly, from £234 to £539; some agents has a flat fee, while others based their quotes on property type or whether it was freehold or leasehold.

The report also mentioned the doubts which surround the longevity of validity which information contained in a HIP has; according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, they have a limited shelf life, because "Lenders currently require searches and valuations to be no older than six months at completion", and, as a result of how long it takes to complete a sale on a property, "there is a distinct possibility that many searches and valuations will be out of date by completion."

Bob Tolliday, spokesman for Which? said: "At the moment, it's hard to see how Hips have made the process of selling a house easier and less expensive. If much of the information in a pack goes out of date after four to six months then that doesn't represent very good value at all."

Which? will be presenting the research to the Housing Minister Caroline Flint.

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