The Home Information Pack - A Guide For Buyers

Home Information Packs

The new Home Information Packs are likely to be introduced from 1 June 2007. This means that a whole range of free information will be available to potential buyers interested in a property.

The HIP should give them significant key information about a property at the beginning of the buying process. This should help buyers make sensible decisions as to whether continue with a purchase or not.

Most people selling a property will use an estate agent to manage the process. To obtain an HIP for a particular property, al you should need to do is ask the agent. The pack should be provided free of charge, although a small charge to cover photocopying and postage may be applied.

If the seller is not using an agent, the seller should be able to provide you with a pack on request.

If any information that should be in the HIP isn't available in the pack, there should be a satisfactory explanation and an assurance that the missing items will be provided as soon as possible - within 28 days.

The pack may only contain items that are set out in regulations as either 'required' (compulsory) or 'authorised'. A key feature of the HIP is the new Energy Performance Certificate which is a compulsory part of the Pack, and is paid for by the seller.

The other key features a Home Information Pack will contain are:

  • An index of contents.
  • A sale statement (summarising terms of sale).
  • Evidence of title.
  • Searches.
  • Leasehold or commonhold documents where appropriate.
  • The HIP might also contain a legal summary, and answers to usual enquiries made of sellers provided that the information is 'authorised'.
  • The HIP can also include other 'authorised' information that could be of interest to buyers.

An example of this is the contentious Home Condition Report which, although is not a compulsory element of the HIP, many pundits believe that the market will drive this to become an expected element of any HIP. The HIP may also contain other searches, guarantees or warranties e.g. double glazing warranties or appliance guarantees. The regulations prohibit the inclusion of marketing or advertising material in the HIP.

Where searches, leasehold or commonhold documents are missing, the seller should provide a letter from a Home Information Pack provider, or whoever else has been commissioned to provide them, confirming that an agreement has been made to supply the documents as soon as possible and normally within 28 days. If this takes longer than 28 days, the HIP providers will be expected to show that they have made all reasonable efforts and enquiries to obtain them.

Some things that you will need to be aware of:

  • You should check the Energy Performance Certificate for the energy efficiency rating. It should also contain advice on way in which fuel bills could be cut and improve the energy efficiency of the property.
  • Look for a Home Condition Report, but remember that this is not a 'required' element so the HIP may not contain one.

A legal summary could provide a summary of the most important legal information. Again, this is not a 'required' element but could be useful if included.

Some documents are not always easy to obtain very quickly. If any required documents such as searches or leasehold documents, where appropriate, are missing the seller or pack provider should have these available within 28 days.
Remember - always ask for the HIP for any property that you are seriously interested in buying. You will need to read it carefully, or ask your solicitor to look at it for you.
If you have an offer accepted on a property, make sure you give a copy of the HIP to your solicitor if they have not already seen it.

The aim of the Home Information Pack is to speed up the buying process whilst sharing some of the expenses more equitably between the vendor and purchasers.

Good Luck! (Mind you, you shouldn't need luck if everyone plays their part in the process properly!).

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