Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Home Information Packs (HIPs) - Squeaky bum time for property lawyers & conveyancers

This summers big legal news.

Whilst the rest of the legal world in the UK is getting on with business as usual, our friends and colleagues on the property lawyer side of the fence are going through absolute turmoil.

For those who dont know - from June the 1st 2007, anyone selling a residential property in England & Wales will need to prepare a HIP for the benefit of a prospective buyer. The content of the pack has evolved over time and sadly has become somewhat diluted in terms of its efficacy. Many property lawyers / conveyancers believe it to be a complete waste of time, money and effort. Worst still is the accusation that the government have got this badly wrong and that they have completely wasted the opportunity to deal with serious property related consumer issues.

Some partners at our firm were taking part in a training course on HIPs last week when once again the soothsayers were dooming and glooming. There was even a suggestion that the packs simply would not / could not be implemented in time for 1st june deadline.

Its hard to believe that there would be a U turn at this last stage. Surely not?

More bad news seems to be the apparent threat that small - medium law firms now face from estate agents monopolising the whole process with the bigger outfits looking to offer free HIPs as an enticement for the client to sign up. The fees for many are already sqeezed as it is.

I dont know enough about the process to comment in too much depth. But I for one hope that estate agents do not take control of this market any more than they already have done.

Some reading:

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