Changes in the world of Property have, in the past few years, seen the advent of a whole host of new initiatives most of which are known by obscure acronyms or jargon. In an attempt to shed some light upon the matter and advance the cause of Plain English there follows a list of definitions along with some back ground information which will hopefully assist you in getting to grips with what’s been going on and what the future may hold.
HIP – Home Information Pack – a ruse by which the Government acquires information about your home at your expense. It also helps line the pockets of its friends in big business. By law you must have one in order to market your home to the public. Often justified on the grounds that it helps would be purchasers make better informed decisions about house purchases. Regrettably, hardly anyone asks to see them other than “Conveyancers”. This is because the average purchaser doesn’t understand the contents and Estate Agents detest them.
EPC – Environmental Performance Certificate – a compulsory component of a HIP- A ruse by which the Government finds out how energy inefficient your home is probably with a view to levying some sort of environmental footprint tax in the future (they’ve done it to cars so why not do it to our other “obsession” houses?) – it also helps line the pockets of government’s friends in big business. Here’s how it works – you let someone into your house who is nominally independent but really acting for the Government and you let them roam around freely. Unlike the police they do not need a warrant (MPs, Mr Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms please note). They then charge you for a report which tells you how unfriendly to the environment your home is. The money goes to the new HIP “industry” which is run by the Government’s friends in big business who helped them to set up the scheme in the first place. You then include details in your sales particulars so your intended purchaser can ask you to drop the price to cover one of those nice green boilers that a German sounding company started advertising on telly about the time HIPs became law.
PIQ – Property Information Questionnaire – a new compulsory HIP component. –its full of questions about your property and you have to fill it in before you can put it on the market. It duplicates in part another form your “Conveyancer”will ask you to complete later if your purchaser hasn’t been put off already. If you are having difficulty in filling in the form your Estate Agent probably won’t help because they are scared of being prosecuted under the Property Misdescriptions Act. However, your Estate Agent will be happy to get a HIP provider to sort things out because they will probably be paid a referral fee or“bung” for pointing you in their direction.
AHIPP – Association of home information pack providers “Founded in 2005 by a number of key players in the emerging market” – an exclusive little club of HIP providers whose members are mostly big business, friends of the Government and “bulk” Conveyancers. They have come up with their own code of conduct. Their members often seem to know about changes to HIPs before they are made public They seem a bit like a new professional body. However, with an annual membership fee of £12000.00p it’s a bit more expensive to join than your average professional body. So small businesses needn’t bother.
E-conveyancing – an opportunity for the Government to make more money out of the property market and to cement the position of its friends in big business. Central to this is something called the “Chain Matrix” which is a clever computer project which the Land Registry can no longer afford because of “The Credit Crunch”. This is despite hikes in Land Registry fees and the fact that for years the Land Registry returned big “Negative Deficits” (or “surpluses”) which seem to have been spent on other things. By “seeding the market with the prototype” and “developing good examples of technical functionality” the Registry (sorry… Government) has paved the way for its friends in big business to take up the baton in the wider interests of the public.
“Property owning democracy” and “Home ownership” – intrinsically very good according to the Government. Buying your own property means you have the chance to make a big contribution to the Treasury by paying an extortionate amount of Stamp Duty. When you die there is the opportunity to pay a further hefty slug of tax Also very good for Government’s friends in big business because Home Ownership is a vehicle for selling lots of credit (debt). In the US they had a target for home ownership and this helped promote the market in “Sub Prime” mortgages which was once considered very good but is now thought to have been very bad. Some would like to see the phrases “Debt Laden subject of a bankrupt State” and “On my way to owning my own home by the time I’m about 70 but will then need to sell it to pay for my Residential Care Home” replace the existing terms as they are not “Fit for purpose”
“Conveyancer / Conveyancing Industry”
Terms that are not recognised by my spell-check but are liked by “web-based” organisations that offer conveyancing services but employ very few if any “solicitors”. Perhaps they would prefer it if everyone forgot the word “solicitor”. They often extol the virtues of out-sourcing work to India and advertise their services to Estate Agents by poking fun at “solicitors”.
A Professional whose existence is still tolerated by big business and Estate Agents for the following reasons:-
They provide lenders with a free copper-bottomed form of title indemnity guarantee through their professional indemnity insurance.
They are prepared to pay Estate Agents a referral fee or “bung” for sending them work and at the same time allow the Agents to claim conveyancing services as part of their brand.
They are prepared to pay Mortgage Lenders a referral fee or “bung” for sending them standard conveyancing and re-mortgage work and at the same time allow them to claim conveyancing services as part of their brand.
“Government Review of Regulation & Redress in the UK Housing Market”
The latest initiative by Government to meddle in the UK housing market. Starting with a report by Colin Jones Professor of Estate Management at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Despite the fact that the good professor is based in Edinburgh he completely overlooked the fact that in Scottish cities most houses are sold by Solicitors rather than Estate Agents. Accordingly, Solicitors didn’t get a mention in his report. This probably suits big business and traditional Estate Agents as they would prefer not to have competition from local Solicitors offering Marketing, HIPs and Conveyancing all under one roof.
The author is a Partner at Rees Page Wolverhampton – a High Street firm of Solicitors which in addition to undertaking Conveyancing also produces its own HIP and provides Estate Agency Services …….all under one roof.