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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 11:58 GMT
Have Your Say: HIPs
Woman talking to an estate agent in his office
Some estate agents offer the chance to pay up front for your HIP

Whatever the future of the housing market, now everyone selling a property of any size needs to have a Home Information Pack commissioned, before putting their house on the market.

The pack contains, amongst other things, local searches
and an assessment of how
energy efficient your home is.

But if you are offered a free or discounted HIP, there are warnings that you may end up paying hundreds of pounds if you change the terms of the contract with your estate agent.

What is your experience of commissioning a HIP?

Have you had the offer of a free pack withdrawn after changing the terms of the contract with your estate agent?

Or do you think estate agents are justified in charging for a HIP they have prepared, if you take your custom elsewhere?

We asked for your comments - a selection of which are below - the debate is now closed.

You do not need to be Einstein to compile a HIPS pack, just have a good degree of common sense
Mark Clarke, Birmingham
Why is it not being publicised that a seller can compile a HIPS pack at a minimal cost for a freehold property? I have checked this out and find that in Solihull the cost will be 175 approximately. All the info is available from the various web sites i.e. Land registry: 12, Seven Trent water: 35, local council: 11, Energy certificate: 100. The forms can be downloaded from the government HIPs site and this then allows the seller to change agents without being ripped off by the estate agent. It should be pointed out that the onus is on the seller to commission the pack and he therefore he has the right to obtain one from whoever he wishes, and not the estate agent marketing the property. In my opinion you do not need to be Einstein to compile a HIPS pack, just have a good degree of common sense.
Mark Clarke, Birmingham

As HIPs are now required for one and two bedroom flats, most of these properties will be in purpose built blocks. Individual leaseholders have no control of loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and window choice, as this is usually controlled by the freeholder. Most modern flats of this type do not have gas boilers and are heated with night storage heaters. This has not been thought through and should be scrapped. The professional bodies have been advising against Hips but the Government presses on without listening to those who know.
G Jones, Maidenhead

I live in a farmhouse that was built before 1872. It lies in a very attractive village in the Elham Valley, East Kent. The house is full of character with most of the original features intact. I am sitting beside a log fire as I write is. When I eventually sell my home, will a potential buyer be put off because this beautiful property has a lower energy rating than a newer house, with no character, in a bland development? I doubt it, but time will tell.
David Grehan, East Kent

When people complain that they are being fleeced by HIP providers please bear in mind that it is the government who have let everyone down
David, Runcorn
Like Jonnie Daly, I followed the introduction of HIPs and trained in time for the July 1st deadline to become an energy assessor (the only part of the HIP I agree with). The roll-out is still incomplete and I have been offered one assessment job with a payment of 56.11 gross. When people complain that they are being fleeced by HIP providers please bear in mind that it is the government who have let everyone down with an ill-conceived plan and they continue to profit from it. Every HIP requires VAT, every assessor must pay insurance and extra NI contributions to operate even if they are not getting any work. So far I am several thousand pounds out of pocket, despite doing everything the system required of me. I am now inundated with offers for further training (more money) in order to keep up-to-date. Fortunately I have been employed and have only two months left to pay the original bank loan required for training. I know some who are worse off as they were advised to pay for training with a 0% credit card with the promise of huge earning potential. They said market forces would level out the costs but surely some controls could have been established somewhere in the process.
David, Runcorn

As a partner in a firm of solicitors with a healthy conveyancing practice, I find it difficult to understand why people go to an estate agent for their HIP. All the items that go into a HIP are gathered as a matter of course by the conveyancing solicitors. Paying a third party (and regardless of the "free offers" you can rest assured that you will end up paying somewhere) to put these in an envelope for you without adding value just does not make sense. We charge 300 including VAT (which is what it costs us) for a HIP if you agree to use our firm for the conveyancing, which we can provide on a no-completion, no-fee basis. You can then decide which estate agent you wish to use and negotiate the best deal for yourself with them knowing that you own your HIP.
John Davies, Thrapston, Northamptonshire

I, like most of the country (apart from those people with a vested interest), disagree with HIPS. But I cannot understand why many professional organisations state that the energy efficiency report is a good idea. The seller has no interest and it would be the last thing the buyer would consider in appraising the property. It would save much expense and inconvenience if the buyer asked four simple questions: 1. Is the loft insulated? 2. Are the cavity walls insulated? 3. Are the windows double-glazed? 4. Is the boiler efficient? You do not need an expert to ask these questions which would give the buyer all the information required.
Anonymous, Worcester

An estate agent friend of ours (yes, estate agents do have friends) tells us that HIPs are a waste of time and money, as buyers rarely ask for one - they prefer to employ their own solicitors and surveyors. All they do is put people off putting their properties on the market or cost vendors money could spend on things they need.
Judy Pritchard, Bath

Free HIPs do not exist
Jonnie Daly, Birmingham
I trained as an energy assessor as I had been offered a job by a close contact. When HIPs came live, thousands of people had been trained and the training companies had done very well for themselves. Now my fellow students have mostly returned to their original jobs, having spent thousands of pounds each. Once I qualified I started work and despite the housing market stagnating, I am surviving, as I already had a contract for my job in place. The HIP companies constantly squeeze the energy assessors to reduce their fees, and as there are so many qualified without work, the fee for a survey has tumbled, probably along with the due care and attention required. Not content with the HIP companies' behaviour I decided to start my own company. I now provide full Home Information Packs, together with a floor plan and photography. My HIP costs only 300 inclusive. It really should not cost you any more than that, unless your estate agent is adding a large fee. Free HIPs do not exist, they are only around to tie you into a sole agency agreement, which will require a termination fee to cancel, costing a lot more than just commissioning a HIP from a reputable firm. I truly do not know if the HIP has any value, as the buyers do not seem to be looking at them yet - but who knows in a buyers market - a quality HIP with official searches and a good energy rating may be the best way to try to sell your house.
Jonnie Daly, Birmingham

There is nothing to say who has to prepare a HIP dossier, so as a seller of a four bedroom house with an attached self-contained one bedroom bungalow, I prepared a HIP myself for the four bedroom house - the one bedroom bungalow was not part of the exercise then, although it is now. The only cost I have had to pay was for the energy survey, which was carried out by a local certified energy surveyor, and for various local searches, which I had carried out by a local solicitor. The only other costs are the "hidden" costs for my time and for downloading all the required forms from the government websites. So far it has cost me approximately 250.00. When my property went "for sale", I had negotiated with the estate agent that their HIP would be excluded from my sale contract, even-though they still insisted in sending their own energy surveyor round to carry out an energy survey for them because it was "company policy". Another thing that is not made clear, is that if you (as a potential buyer) request a copy of a HIPs for a particular house, it could cost a "nominal" 20 to 30 a copy. So far, from the few viewings we have had, no one has yet requested to view my HIP, or, as far as I know, the agent's HIP.
Roger Appleyard, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

Money Box



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External internet links
14 Dec 07 |  Moneybox
Hips extended to all properties
14 Dec 07 |  Business
Hips home packs get full roll-out
12 Dec 07 |  Business
Q&A: Home information packs
31 Jul 07 |  Business


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