Home Information Packs, better known as HIPs, have already become “an almost total irrelevance” to the residential property market, having completely failed to achieve one of the Government’s stated aims: to speed up the process of buying and selling houses. That’s the view of Mark Rimell of leading national estate agent, Strutt & Parker, whose comments come as HIPs – first introduced for houses with four or more bedrooms in August -  are extended to the entire residential property market, with vendors of one or two bedroom properties now requiring them for the first time. Mr Rimell, who heads S&P’s St Albans office, believes anyone planning to sell a property, be it a smart country house or a two bedroom city flat, will be astonished at how pointless HIPs have already become. With HIPs costing sellers between £250-£600 they are also likely to be increasingly annoyed by what a growing number will doubtless see as an unnecessary expense. “What we’ve discovered is that a huge amount of time, effort and, of course, money is being expended on creating something that virtually everyone involved in the purchase of a property is ignoring,” explains Mr Rimell.  “Because the vast majority of the houses we sell have four bedrooms or more, we’ve been dealing with HIPs since they were first introduced in August and in the four months since then only 16 prospective purchasers have asked to see a property’s HIP. For a firm like us, with 50 offices around the country which collectively normally sell around 2000 properties a year, that’s an astonishingly small, almost meaningless, percentage.” The vast majority of these requests for HIPs have come from prospective purchasers who have already had an offer accepted, says Mr Rimell, which would suggest HIPs are having no impact on a property’s saleability at all. “People put in an offer for a house because they have fallen in love with it; they leave the due diligence to the solicitors and surveyors.” “Since last August, the Energy Performance Certificate – one of the normal components of a HIP - has also, largely, been contained within the sales particulars. However, our experience is that the day when an energy efficiency report has a material impact on a potential buyer considering making an offer is still a long way off.”  “I’m not saying energy conservation isn’t important because it is and will clearly become much more important in years to come. What I’m saying is that it just isn’t a factor in why a person will or won’t buy a particular home.”  As well as the 16 requests for HIPs from would-be purchasers, a further 16 requests have also come from solicitors acting for purchasers who have had an offer accepted. As Mr Rimell points out, that means the vast majority of solicitors acting for purchasers are doing their conveyancing without looking at the property’s HIP at all.“This confirms what many of us feared would happen once HIPs were introduced. To protect themselves and their clients, solicitors acting for purchasers are insisting on doing all the discovery work themselves.” “The fact that quite a lot of that work is already in the HIP, including Land Registry and local authority searches, doesn’t matter. It’s their professional reputations – and, of course, their clients’ money –at stake so, very understandably, they’re insisting on doing the work themselves. That is why the conveyancing process is still taking as long as it did before the introduction of HIPs.” Mr Rimell’s belief is that the only thing that will speed up the time between and offer being accepted and contracts being exchanged, thus achieving the Government’s stated aim of reducing the time it takes to sell a house, is a “system that gave solicitors on both sides of the transaction on-line access to all the relevant documents”. “Now that really might begin to reduce conveyancing times. But, sadly, that’s not what HIPs do and that’s exactly why they are failing to do what their supporters hoped they would achieve.”