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Government should get behind property packs to ‘make the whole process better for everyone’ – Rudolf

by: Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association
  • 18/02/2022
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Government should get behind property packs to ‘make the whole process better for everyone’ – Rudolf
When it comes to improving and speeding up the home buying and selling process, some seasoned players might be having something of a sense of déjà vu at present, particularly in terms of what we hope might be coming down the tracks in order to achieve our aims, and cut down on the number of aborted transactions each year which, quite frankly, cost the entire industry and consumers millions of pounds.


I’ve already seen a news story post-the Levelling Up White Paper suggesting, ‘Housing Information Packs (HIPs) to return?’ and I can imagine there was a collective shudder across Whitehall, particularly within the Conservative Party who, after all, brought the HIPs ‘experiment’ to an end.

In our dealings with various iterations of the Department of Housing over the years there has been a certain Fawlty Towers-esque approach employed, specifically around anything that might be construed as a solution which resembled the now-defunct HIPs.

‘Don’t mention the HIP!’ has been a constant civil servant refrain and yet, judging by that headline, some can’t help themselves.

However, I am here to say that while we might continue to talk about property packs and their use in providing upfront information to all involved in the home buying process – particularly consumers, but also to be shared amongst all practitioners and stakeholders – these are a long way from the HIPs of yesteryear. In fact, in our digital age they look nothing like them.

This is truly all about the provision of digital material information on a property that comes with weight and provenance from trusted sources, can be relied upon by all, has the ability to be shared with all, and ultimately delivers greater confidence to consumers before they even put the offer in. Plus it means there is no requirement for all of us involved in the transaction to have to conduct the same tasks repeatedly and secure the same information time and again.

Basically, HIPs were analogue, technical documents with insufficient information to speed up the process. Property packs today are that one source of truth, material information in a digestible format allowing the prospective buyer to easily identify the issues which might impact them, and from this easily establish what it means to them.

In HIPs they could only have seen paper documents – or at best PDFs – which as mentioned, tended to be highly technical and contained, quite frankly, irrelevant (as well as relevant) information. HIPs did include a sale statement but that only said whether the property was registered, sold with vacant possession, and the tenure.

That was it, not even the Property Information Form so no material information for the buyer.

On top of that, conveyancers could not authenticate the provenance of the data so ended up having to duplicate the searches by ordering them themselves from the relevant authority. For example, there were 40 per cent more local searches carried out than properties sold, because of this.


Property Data Trust Framework will avoid problems of HIPs

The Technology Sub-Group of the Home Buying and Selling Group (HBSG) has recently produced a Property Data Trust Framework (PDTF), and by introducing access to digital data, and being able to authenticate its provenance, via this we can avoid all those problems generated by the HIP.

We can also ensure sellers as well as buyers are advised on what the issues might be so that they can be resolved much earlier in the process, and sellers can maximise the value they can achieve for the property. Plus, of course no one wastes money on a transaction which falls through due to only finding out about ‘nasties’ further into the process, when an offer has already been made and cost has already been incurred.

So, to put minds at ease, what we are proposing today in the form of Property Packs is a long way removed from HIPs and infinitely more useful and effective. It will serve the consumer, and the industry, far better and is a common-sense solution to some of those transaction problems which are a constant source of stress and worry.

It is estimated by BEIS that hundreds of millions are lost every year due to failed property transactions; if the government gets behind property packs, and everything they entail, we can cut that significantly and make the whole process better for everyone.

We should all be hip to that.

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