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Political Change Could Be What’s Needed For HIPs

By Andy Shaw | January 23, 2010

Originally Posted 6th May 2008

I saw that the Conservative Party has called for the abolition of Home Information Packs (HIPs). The packs were supposed to be designed to provide key information to home buyers and speed up the buying and selling process, ha!

They have been strong critics of HIPs since their inception and have promised to scrap the packs should they be elected – which is good news in my opinion, as they are a near complete waste of money. This was agreed by the shadow housing minister Grant Shapps who recently described HIPs as a “bureaucratic farce” and a “complete waste of time”.

The problem with them was, and still is, that they failed to solve the problem of the valuation whereby the lenders wouldn’t accept the vals, and why should they? – it’s not the government’s money on the line: it’s theirs. So why accept the government’s valuers.

Frankly how did they ever think they would get over this problem? I think this stupid policy that was organised under Tony Blair, and finished off under the Moron, was all about some sort of political high ground where they could say they had done something. The problem with anything like that comes when it is not thought through before it is implemented and then it is fraught with problems!

This problem is cancerous and it is terminal! Trouble is that they don’t like admitting that they got it wrong. Big business has this problem too as jobs will be on the line when they have to make U-turns. Whereas the small business that is cash tight doesn’t make these sorts of mistakes as they have to learn fast and make immediate U-turns.

I identified a recent incident in one of my businesses where a project had been allowed to over-run and how an ‘eye off the ball’ situation had meant a missed opportunity that dwarfed the size of the overall project benefit. By return of email the manager of the project apologised and completely accepted the blame. Then he instigated massive change in the project, enabling it to be completed in time, and produce what had been promised.

The trouble Labour has is that they, and a large number of private inspectors, have spent a small fortune on this and as the government is nearly broke they can’t afford a compensation payout to remove this very bad mistake. Actually I wouldn’t be surprised, if Labour were to get back in next time (almost as likely as me winning the lottery – and I don’t buy a ticket), if they killed this themselves, knowing they had another five years to let time cover up the mistake.

Of course the Conservatives are merely the latest in a long line of critics. In March, National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) chief executive Peter Bolton King cited research statistics including:

o       Only 29% of sellers who sold a property with a pack felt that it made the process more efficient. (Not knowing how to answer or even knowing what the HIP was I doubt the percentage was really this high, but you have to consider the person being questioned ;-) )

o       Only 20% of buyers felt HIPs sped up the buying process (This is more of an indication, but again far too high when we consider that more recently built homes would be helped in the speed of selling, whereas older homes would be hindered. Therefore points towards what is to be expected)

o       41% thought they made the buying process more difficult. (Only 41%!!!)

(my thoughts in italics)

The chief exec went on to say, “This research confirms what the NAEA and its members have consistently said: HIPs are not the way to improve the buying and selling process”.

The Trade body the Association of Home Information Pack Providers (AHIPP) questioned the research, claiming it focused on too small a sample of the market to be definitive. I’d agree with them there as these percentages just looked wrong to me (not that I have anything to base it on other than my feelings towards this), but I don’t think a more detailed survey will help their cause much. I think more detailed research would reveal a much greater case for the burial of HIPs in an unmarked grave.

Governments should stay out of things they do not understand!

Best wishes


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