Following their short stint in operation between 2007 and 2010, Home Information Packs (HIPs) will not return, the Law Commission has said in a key report.
But the independent legal body has identified home buying as a project with possible merit in the 14th programme of law reform, which is currently under consultation.
Professor Nick Hopkins told the Law Gazette this week that while the intention of Home Information Packs was good, a fresh look is needed into how to speed up property transactions with a different approach.
Home Information Packs were scrapped over a decade ago by the incoming coalition government because they cost sellers too much money ahead of taking their property to the market – around £350 – and was slowing down recovery following the recession.
Yet, professionals across the property sector are collectively calling for measures to improve the sales progression process.
The requirement for information up front from vendors has only been compounded by the increased pressure on the property sector to complete sales ahead of the Stamp Duty holiday coming to an end.
It’s long been claimed that the provision of details such as local authority searches, title documents and energy performance certificates (HIPs’ only lasting legacy) in advance of property marketing would separate serious sellers from those merely testing the water. But it may also deter sellers, especially if there’s a cost involved.
The role of digital
The development of digital solutions has gone some way towards reducing completion times, but more is still needed.
In March, Kent estate agent, Miles & Barr, was one of the first to launch their own free version of Home Information Packs, i-PACKS, and Hopkins agrees that the role of technology will be important.
As detailed on the Law Commission’s website, ‘A project might also examine the role of technology in the home buying process, and whether there are barriers to it transforming processes and procedures, as it has done for other transactions.’
The public is now being asked to provide their views in the latest consultation, which closes on 31 July, and in particular, whether problems in buying homes can be solved by market action or whether law reform is needed.
Read industry reaction to the Law Commission’s comments here.