As cheap as HiPs

Warning – choosing the cheapest Home Information Pack can seriously damage your sale. Let’s face it, you are more likely to find someone with talent on the X-Factor than you are to find someone who thinks HiPs are going to improve the house selling process.
Only the hair brains who came up with the batty idea are still publicly trying to convince us that you will find selling your house easier with one of their Packs. Those who have invested their money and their futures to service the Pack, like Domestic Energy Assessors have been let down by a Secretary of Sate who has changed her mind more often than Liz Taylor.
The problem is that these Packs are not just a waste of everyone’s time, they are actually damaging the sale of some homes. How? Because if you pay peanuts, you can find that you get Packs prepared by monkeys!
Understandably, many agents and their clients think that now every home is legally required to have a HiP prepared when it goes on the market the best way to deal with this is to get one done as cheaply as possible. Some sellers are even instructing estate agents because they will throw in a free HiP as part of the deal and as the market hardens, more agents are offering this enticement.
The problem is that a cheap HiP is often cheap because it has only the basic (read ‘cheapest’) components in it. The basic personal search for instance is cheaper than an ‘authenticated’ search.
Last week, a buyer of a house in Henley-on-Thames made history by actually asking to see a HiP. Not only that but the agent actually had one! It was a cheap and cheerful Hip but was legal and the agent handed it over. In it there was a personal search which erroneously mentioned a covenant making the owner responsible for the not insignificant cost of regular resurfacing of a long, shared drive.
The buyer was appalled and promptly withdrew his offer and walked away. No doubt a convert to Home Information Packs and a fan of Ms Cooper to boot! It turned out though that the covenant had been removed as more people came to use the driveway but this had not been picked up by the Expresso-style search.
Now, not every property requires an ‘authenticated’ search but cutting corners by going for the cheapest option on an individual property can be a false economy. In a strong market you can probably front any problem up – after all, there are a queue of buyers but in 2008 when the market is round it’s ankles, this is a time for doing things properly.
As the agent in Henley now tries to re-market the property (with a new and rather more complete HiP) the old adage “you get what you pay for” has never seemed more apt.