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Ok, that is a provocative title in order to get your attention, but on a serious note, should we be producing some kind of seller's pack For now, let's call it HELP, Home Enquiries and Legal Papers (open to better suggestions!).

When HIPs (Home Information Packs) were first introduced, I joined forces with legal forms and office suppliers Oyez. We built a HIP compilation system that allowed conveyancers to add additional documents to the basic HIP that legislation prescribed. We all know how good that was!

The additional documents could be anything that a buyer and their conveyancer might need to see and often included planning permissions, building regulation approvals, guarantees, the full property information form and documents referred to therein. My objective was to produce a pack that was as exchange-ready as was possible.

The conveyancer would obtain and add these documents whilst the property was being marketed. Some, especially leasehold documents, obtained from managing agents, could take weeks or more to obtain and often delayed the parties being able to exchange contracts.

A number of questions arise (I am sure there are more):

What would the lifespan of the HELP last

How much would it cost to produce

Who would pay for it

Could the cost of producing the HELP be insured

Could the lifespan of some of the contents (searches in particular) be extended by insurance

How many properties that are marketed actually sell

How long do they take to sell

What other issues cause unnecessary delays and how could they be resolved

I am sure that there are a number of pack production systems in being that are currently gathering dust. Maybe it is time to wheel them out once more

*Rob Hailstone is founder of the Bold Legal Group



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    The standard of conveyancing is at an all time low. I said that 8-10 months ago, but it is even lower now. I wont sutra coat a problem. Out of depth conveyancers are all over the place misquoting the law/procedural practice, not to mention shocking sets of papers being submitted as 'contract papers.

    An attempt at a mandatory upfront pack is a must, as auction packs are the example. All upfront, instantly reviewable and quicker deals.

    But please will law firms prepare their own, do not outsource to non-law firms / commercial companies who were preparing legal documents but had no clue what they were. We ( as lawyers) did our own HIPS, with in-house graphic cover pages to the enclosures, use of a free pdf combiner and free web hosting. We took ideas from everywhere, and the whole operation was less than a few hundred pounds to create. I hear others paid tens and tens of thousands. Crazy. Ours also added extra documents where we had them, as why leave them out, the more on offer (it was only scanning) the better the pack, and word of mouth spread how good they were.

    But true, so many auction packs are dreadful, like legal packs prepared for new build Developments (and the poor developers not knowing how rubbish they are by their own lawyers).

    But the fact that the production would again be mandatory will mean better than the slow speed we witness in submission of contract papers currently. Loss of 10 to 14 days on average. Why Got to the Land Registry portal on day one and submit papers (less protocol Forms) same day. Basic stuff. Impress your clients and estate agents.

    However, the new HELP/HIP must include registered title, all documents referred to as filed in the registered title, an unregistered epitome (yes!), Protocol Forms TA6 and TA7, Council consents for age of property or 20 years whichever is less, searches (not personal searches lease good grief) - Local Authority, CON29DW (Chancel and Enviro are a waste of time personally), new build warranty, statement of service charge account if leasehold (to give buyer idea of service charge levels) .and so on.add more! Only mediocre conveyancers will argue for less.

    All of these items would be supplied for an auction, if dynamic prompt lawyers are used that is.so I would hope the requirements would shut down inferior conveyancers in the marketplace, as they tarnish the dynamic ones of us.

    But sadly 'pressure groups' and 'masters of the universe cigar smoking dinners will ensure the current status quo.

    • 21 August 2014 23:40 PM
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    The main problem, apart from all the others, is that without some form of compulsion, the HIP concept (which I totally agree is a no-brainer, it's so obviously sensible) would lead to a 2 tier system with no chain being more efficient than the slowest non-HIP transaction. There is no way it will become statute law again so it needs an industry-led initiative to create a protocol around the concept. But apathy and vested interests rule. And I gather many local authority searches are back to the old days of taking weeks. There's virtually no interest anywhere in improving the process for the homebuyer & seller. And the biggest stumbling block was & will remain the condition survey. Again it's a no-brainer to have a pre-sale condition report - all the old chestnuts were laid to rest long ago. But it's a bridge too far for most professionals, even though a condition report on 100% of marketed properties would kind of increase surveying turnover four or fivefold. Evidently the extra business is not worth having! And I'm afraid the self-invented HIP industry ending up eating itself. Conveyancing lawyers & surveyors alike could & should have taken it all on board enthusiastically.

    • 13 August 2014 07:12 AM
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    Thanks Nick, even I need more than one though:)

    • 12 August 2014 12:55 PM
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    We at Pali always thought the HIP was a good idea and were one of the first, and as it proved the best sites for ordering, paying for and viewing HIPs.
    Our site was Hipview and was widely copied. Remember Hip2view, Viewhip The idea of having all the conveyancing documents ordered as soon as you decide to sell your house is a no brainer really. It only failed due to politics. The Tory's thought of it first but labour dumped it. After a suitable period labour reinvented it and claimed it for their own but Grant Shapps built his platform on getting rid if the Tory's came to power which they did and he was as good as his word. It wasted millions of pounds in development and training and thousands of jobs. There is no reason why a house seller cannot gather all the documents together at the outset and be ahead of the game. The searches could be left until exchange of contracts as they need to be fresh and they now only take a couple of days to obtain. (from Pali). So come on Rob. Start a campaign to reintroduce the Home Information Pack. We are right behind you.

    • 12 August 2014 09:00 AM
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