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AHIPP Talk to the Tories

publication date: Oct 16, 2009
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Mike OckendenThe Conservative Party Conference was a great opportunity to engage with Conservative shadow ministers and party delegates, setting the record straight on HIPs. As we all know, the Conservatives have declared their intention to scrap HIPs but the conference gave us a chance to cut through the misconceptions and look at constructive ways of moving forward. We had some very interesting conversations with the shadow ministerial teams about HIPs, assessing what is working and where improvements could be made.

One area we wanted to draw attention to at conference was ‘statistics behind the misconceptions’. Just before we went to party conference, we issued our IPSOS MORI consumer survey and the results were very interesting. We conducted the research because we thought it was time for consumers to have the opportunity to voice their opinions rather than everyone relying on the varied assertions made about HIPs. For example, critics have claimed that HIPs have been instrumental in halting the recovery of the housing market, whether through a time, convenience or financial factor. We specifically asked consumers whether obtaining a HIP influenced their decision to put their home on the market and six out of seven (85 per cent) said that it didn’t. The 15 per cent that said it influenced their decision put their home on the market anyway. It would therefore seem evident that HIPs clearly do not affect listings.

Many politicians we met mentioned they heard that HIPs are time consuming and therefore act as a barrier to the home buying and selling process but our results contradict this. We told party delegates that of those surveyed, nearly three quarters (73 per cent) said it took them less than twenty minutes to complete the Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ) with 75 per cent finding it easy to complete. Our previous research also backs this up; in our member survey, a huge 84 per cent of sellers said they would ask to see the PIQ when buying their next home. This can only mean that HIPs – and PIQs more specifically, aren’t the cumbersome and taxing forms that the opposition believes them to be.

David CameronThe Survey also showed that around four out of five (82 per cent) believe the home buying and selling process takes too long. This finding is backed up by new research from the Connells Group confirming that the legal content in Home Information packs has helped speed up the time between accepting an offer on a property and exchange of contracts by an average of seven calendar days. This is quite an impressive figure, enough to make a big difference to all parties in a chain. These new statistics simply add to the growing body of evidence that directly contradicts the claims made by some critics of HIPs. The system as it stands may not be perfect but, as these results clearly show, HIPs have led to important improvements being made. Evidence also suggests that the Exchange-Ready Pack is further speeding up the time taken between an offer being accepted and the exchange of contracts. The average time taken between offer and exchange, where an Exchange-Ready Pack is in place, is now averaging 28 days, compared to an average of 80 days before HIPs were introduced. Exchange-Ready Packs are a workable solution with an increasing number of HIP providers producing them.

In addition, the IPSOS MORI survey indicated that the majority of consumers (57 per cent) agree that homebuyers should be provided with more upfront information about the condition of the property that they are buying to potentially speed up the process and avoid delays.

HIPSSince HIPs were introduced, their impact has been debated by politicians and those in the industry. This research demonstrated what the consumers think, as it is the British consumer that the packs were designed to benefit. The delegates we spoke to at the party conference welcomed these results as an insight to consumer reaction. Crucially it highlighted that upfront information is key to consumers and we need to work together to see how the packs can be improved to best deliver this. Following the conference, we have a number of meetings in the diary to discuss the results and the future of HIPs. I genuinely look forward to continued engagement with all stakeholders.