There has been a great deal of debate over HIPs since they were launched in October 2007. Their impact and whether they have actually speeded up the conveyancing process still remains uncertain.
If the Conservative Party win the General Election it is likely HIPs packs as we know them will be abolished. It has been suggested by some that Exchange Ready Packs may be introduced in place of HIPs packs and some agents have already adopted them. ERPs will consist of the documents that are included in the HIPs packs but will include additional documents:
- The Draft Contract
- Transfers and Conveyancers referred to in the official copies
- Copies of all Planning Permission and Building Regulations and Local Authority Consents relevant to the property
- The Property Information forms (Seller’s Property Information form, Seller’s Leasehold Information form, Fixtures, Fittings and Contents List)
- Guarantees to the property
The ERP should therefore consist of all the relevant documents and property information forms relating to the property leaving just additional enquiries to be raised if necessary. This would enable the Buyer’s conveyancer to review all documents in one pack. It would mean that the Seller’s solicitor would have to be involved from the outset of the transaction as the draft contract and property information forms would need to be included. At present a property can be marketed without a conveyancer being instructed since Estate Agents or HIPs providers can provide a HIPs pack.
The HIPs packs as they stand are lacking in documentation since there is always additional documentation that needs to be provided by the Seller or his Conveyancer. If the ERPs are prepared well they could speed up the process to some degree. However, sellers will continue to remain rather disgruntled by it all since the cost of the ERPs may increase as you will have to factor in solicitors’ costs for preparing contracts and property information forms from the outset. If the sale of the property is slow to proceed, information will need to be updated and contracts may need to be altered due to a change in circumstances and conveyancers may charge additional costs for doing this work. You will also be unable to proceed without a Managing Agent's pack if the property is leasehold so this must be provided at the same time as the ERP or shortly thereafter to ensure matters progress swiftly.
ERPs could prove slightly more effective than HIPs packs provided they are prepared well and all relevant documents are included. However, it should be noted that most conveyancers will still wish to raise a few enquiries on receipt of the ERP and there will almost always be additional documents that will need to be provided so it is unrealistic to assume that the parties will be ready to exchange as soon as the pack is received by the Buyer’s conveyancer which is what the name of the pack suggests! It is therefore questionable as to how much of an improvement to the conveyancing process the ERPs will actually make and whether or not it is actually worth introducing them.