Within the property industry, opposition to HIPs has come most vociferously from estate agents. I freely admit that HIPs are not the best answer to property transaction delays and the agents’ argument is a legitimate one.
Articles published in ‘Estate Agency Today’ are much commented on by estate agents. In one such article, an agent accurately responds to an article about the ridiculous gimmick known as Exchange ready HIPs: “Nonsense! HIP's are not required - all that is needed is for a conveyancer to be instructed right at the start of marketing (by law) to prepare all doc's and obtain the EPC (EU Directive) within a specified time or face a fine”
Having said this, plenty of agents are profiting well out of HIPs. In recent days and weeks various illustrations of this have been highlighted in the press:
• ‘Which?’, the consumer champion, pointed out the possibility that purchasing a HIP through an estate agent could cost double than purchasing it over the internet.
• ‘The Times’, in this weekend’s article ‘’Lying Estate Agents Confronted with Home Truths’ highlights the latest OFT results which show that 13% of complaints against estate agents relate to HIPs. The majority of these complaints relate to both sellers’ allegations claiming payment requests for a Home Information Pack when the property has not yet sold or from home owners who have become liable to dual fees after switching agents during a slow market.
• ‘The Guardian’ this weekend contains a letter from a disgruntled seller who was charged almost £350 for a HIP even though he decided to sell through an alternative agent.
I do not believe that agents are hypocrites because they are making money from a product they do not like. However, I do believe that agents are failing to recognize how much HIPs help speed up transactions and there still remains a desperate need to speed up the home buying process.
Nowadays, agents do not need to tolerate excuses from property lawyer s claiming that the transaction is delayed due to searches or because the lease cannot be located.
I remain less certain than the majority of agents as to whether the next government will abolish HIPs. There seems to be an assumption amongst the many agents I have spoken to that the abolition of HIPs will be almost immediate once the Conservatives gain power. I suspect that a newly elected Government would be wise enough to hesitate prior to implementation of an expedited abolition of HIPs. Consider what RICS achieved in the legal action taken against the current Government. Returning to pre-HIP days is certainly not the ideal long term solution