Major changes that will revolutionise the way we buy and sell houses are on the way with the introduction of Home Information Packs (HIPs).  From June 2007 a HIP will be required before a property can be placed on the market and sold.A HIP has two basic components.  First, is the legal information which will be gathered by the seller’s solicitor and will comprise details of the legal title to the property and the searches.  By making this information available up front the Government aims to reduce delays and speed up the selling process. 

The other major innovation HIPs will bring about is the requirement for a seller to provide a prospective buyer with a survey of the property.  “The Home Condition Report” will show up any defects which, in the past, would not have come to light until a purchaser has committed to buy the property.  The result should be far fewer transactions fall through at the last minute due to bad surveys.  In addition, for the first time, every property will be given an energy efficiency rating enabling buyers to take into account environmental costs and energy conservation when making their choice of property to buy.

This radical overhaul of our system does, however, come at a price.  It is estimated that a HIP will cost sellers between £700. and £1,000. for average priced properties.  However, buyers should be better off especially as the cost of searches & surveys is transferred to the seller under the new system.

With HIPs now clearly on the horizon some solicitors have already paved the way by investing in electronic conveyancing systems which will enable the legal information required for the HIP to be gathered online in a fraction of the time it took previously.  Anyone thinking of selling their property over the next six to twelve months should therefore find out from their solicitors whether they are geared up for HIPs and have the necessary systems in place. 

Official Government trials of the new packs will begin shortly with full implementation scheduled to commence on 1 June 2007.  Even before the Government’s “dry run” some agents and solicitors are joining forces to offer voluntary packs which, it is hoped, will speed up the selling process and prepare for full blown HIPs in 2007. 

This article was supplied by Richard Atkins, Taylor Walton Solicitors on 01582 731161