What is a Home Information Pack (HIP)?
A Home Information Pack or HIP for short is a pack of documents anyone selling their house must provide to the prospective buyer.
For the past few years the government has been working on new legislation that, it is said, will revolutionise the house buying process. Despite only being launched this year the Home Information Pack idea was actually first suggested in the 1994 Housing Act. The government believed some form of legislation was necessary to ease the stress involved with moving house and to prevent some of the problems that often arise in the process.
The RollOutOn August 1st 2007 the first stage of the HIPS launch was rolled out. As of that date all houses with four or more bedrooms had to have a HIP before being put on the market. The roll-out approach continued on September 10th, by which time all houses with three or more bedrooms had to have a HIP before being placed on the market. Then it was announced that from December 14th 2007 onwards all properties must have a HIP.
It is hoped the Home Information Packs will also help make homes more energy efficient.It is the responsibility of the seller to pay for and organise the pack and make it available to the buyer as soon as the house is put on the market.
The Home Information Pack must contain several compulsory documents and some non-compulsory documents. All packs must include an Energy Performance Certificate which measures how energy efficient the property is, a big factor especially in today “green” climate. The Energy Performance Certificate must be completed by and Energy Assessor or a home inspector. When the government unveiled its plans to launch HIPS many people chose to study to become a home inspector so finding a local inspector to complete your Energy Performance Certificate should not be a problem.
The pack must also contain an Evidence of Title to prove it is the seller’s house to sell, a sale statement, standard searches and a HIP index. One of the most controversial issues surrounding HIPS is that of the Home Condition Report. The HCR was originally supposed to be a compulsory part of the HIP and would inform buyers of the general condition of the property before buying it. However in August of last year the government decided the HCR would no longer be compulsory and therefore would just be included as an optional extra. The results of whether or not people are choosing to opt for the HCR, even though they don’t have to, are yet to be seen.
How Much do HIPs Cost?HIPs were originally said to cost around £600, with the HCR included. However the pack now costs in the region of £300-£600 with the optional HCR costing anything from £250 to £1000.There have been some fears in the industry that due to the cost the seller has to pay up front HIPS may deter people from putting their homes on the market. However the government claims the packs will leave homeowners better off.
Consumer champions Which? gave the initiative its full backing until the HCR was made optional at which point it withdrew its support.
Anyone who puts a house that requires a HIP on the market without one will risk a fine of £200 minimum.