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Graham Awards


New-style Home Information Pack proposed by government

The government’s Levelling Up White Paper, released today, contains an unexpected and shock commitment - to create a new 'lite' version of the much-criticised Home Information Pack.

The concept of the pack was abandoned by the David Cameron-led Coalition government in 2010 but now appears to be making a comeback under Boris Johnson. 

In an early overview of the Levelling Up proposals in today's 332-page White Paper there is the sentence: “We will improve the home buying and selling process, working with the industry to ensure the critical information buyers need to know is available digitally wherever possible from trusted and authenticated sources.”


Then in the detail of the document, on page 225, there is a lengthier commitment. It reads:

“The home buying and selling process which can be expensive, time-consuming and stressful will be improved. 

“Around a third of all housing transactions fall through, costing people hundreds of millions of pounds each year. 

“The UK Government and the industry will work together to ensure the critical material information buyers need to know – like tenure type, lease length and any service charges – are available digitally wherever possible from trusted and authenticated sources, and provided only once. If necessary, the UK Government will legislate.”

Leaks of the Levelling Up White Paper earlier this week included references to rental sector reforms such as the scrapping of Section 21 eviction powers and a possible mandatory landlords’ register in England. But there was no reference to reform of the buying system.

The ‘provided only once’ pledge in today’s document, backed up by possible legislation, is reminiscent of the Home Information Packs introduced some 15 years ago by Labour. 

HIPs became mandatory for homes with four or more bedrooms in August 2007 and were extended to three-bedroomed properties from September 2007.

HIPs contained a series of mandatory documents including the then-new Energy Performance Certificate, a Sale Statement which would include search material, and evidence of title documents. For leasehold properties there were also copies of the lease and other relevant documents.

Extensive lobbying at the time led by the National Association of Estate Agents - now Propertymark - ensured there was no survey in the pack, but the most criticised element was the insistence of the government of the day that the pack should be completed before the property was marketed. 

That measure was changed in May 2008 and the pack merely had to be commissioned - the property could be marketed while pack preparation went on.

The scrapping of HIPs (except for the EPCs) was one of the planks of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition which came into government in May 2010. 

You can see today’s entire Levelling Up White Paper here.

  • Rob Hailstone

    I beg to differ Graham; this is not a new version of the HIP. The HIP contained legal documents, copy deeds, title plan, completed Property Information Questionnaire, searches etc, that should have helped speed up the legal process. Sadly, it didn’t because other legal documents that were required, were missing. Most of those documents could have been easily obtained (and by some HIP providers were), but that is another story.

    This Property Transaction Pack (my choice of name, others are available) contains “critical information buyers need to know”. This pack is likely to be lacking legal documents, and does not appear to encourage (much needed) early conveyancer involvement.

    So, back in 2007 we had a ‘legal pack’, in the not-too-distant future we could have a ‘consumer pack’.

    Surely, we need a pack/system:

    • That contains legal documents
    • That contains consumer relevant documents
    • That gets conveyancers involved when a property is first marketed, not when an offer has been accepted?

    Another opportunity to improve the home buying and selling process missed?

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    Maybe Graham read the text - 'are available digitally wherever possible from trusted and authenticated sources, and provided only once.'

    This is not adescription of a paper trail, and lots of buff files. In 2025 it is not going to be a case of pdf that will be shot across the ether using a 1838 invention the fax (not a typo faxes are that old) it is data from a source of trust being used by all stakeholders, which could be anything from an NFT on blockchain - to other more developed technolgies.

    Technology doubles in reach each year, so the technology available 12 years ago has grown up a lot and in 2017, 60% of the property technology companies in the UK launched, add in the Fintech technolgies which were in advance of this by ten years and you now have the ingredients for property being done - FAST. The world even at Westminster has moved on.

    Property existing as a digital asset, ready to go, lenders being able to quantify their 'risk' by having a micro digital view of what they lend against and with open banking the human they are lending too. AI and ML hoovering up all the case studies of all the transactions until there are no more variables left, and you have the transfer of title/mortgage/completion next day like Amazon.

    And yes HIPS were a disaster, expensive, local searches going out of date, documenation being piecemeal, etc, but 2012 was the 'paper age' school children now learn at the touchscreen, soon evven keyboards will fade as voice will digitally control all.


    Complete poppycock. You sound like my (also tech obsessed) mate who told me 8 years ago that in 5 years the roads would be full of electric, driverless cars. What CAN be done is one thing. What human nature, economics, bureaucracy and vested interests allow to happen is another thing entirely.

  • icon

    I can remember being told we were going paperless in the 1980's and we are still buried in the stuff.
    We print it off doubling up the process "just in case".

    Matthew Gardiner Legge

    Scan thee thy doc and send said doc for recycling then thou shall be paperless. I've been doing iit for years. Sadly, the very thought of something so radical sends companies into a tailspin...

  • Richard Copus

    IT Crowd gobbledook doesn't help anything. Yes, times have moved on and what is needed is not tinkering but a full exchange ready legal pack exactly the same as we have for auctions and formal (NB NOT informal) tender. As Rob well knows I was strongly against HIPS, but this was because a survey was to be included which would have added hundreds of pounds and also not be trusted by many purchasers although a survey report has to be independent of interests. The documentation can be ready within a few days now as those who use oven ready packs well know, and it is cheaper to produce. It really doesn't need third parties to glamorise and charge for this, just a legal requirement so that conveyancers have to do the work just as many do successfully now - and they do as any auctioneer will tell you.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    This isn't HIPs its critical upfront information. Legislating/mandating all key transaction data at point of going to market will remove a lot of unnecessary heartache.

  • icon

    Totally agree with Rob that earlier conveyancer involvement is key. I find most of the delay is at the outset.

    If all clients completed forms TA6 and TA10 and, ideally, some form of nationally run ID verification process (such as the Experian and Post Office ones you can use when you file a tax return) and this was all done at the point of marketing this would save weeks.

    This information could be made available instantly on a portal (perhaps hosted by the Land Registry) to which solicitors could be given an access code. The selling client or their selling agent with their blessing could request the generation of such a code and that would then be sent out with the memo of sale or, ideally beforehand, to allow their solicitor to start uploading useful documents such as title registers.

    If this was developed in a user friendly manner, clients could even be invited to upload other "useful docs" they may have - all optional. There could be upload boxes saying "If you have a water bill, upload it here", "if you have a boiler installation certificate, upload it here" etc.


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