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New regulations including Property Information Questionnaire announced

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 09-Dec-08 01:55:15 AM

The ending of temporary 'First Day Marketing' (FDM) rules, which allow homes to be marketed without a HIP providing a commitment is made to get one within 28 days, has been put back for the fourth time to April 5th 2009.

The DCLG press release which announced (what's becoming their almost habitual last minute) amendments, doesn't use words such as 'delay', of course. It says:

We are changing the regulations on first day marketing from April 6, to ensure buyers have certainty the HIP will be available as soon as a property comes onto the market, and that sellers get to see the product they are paying for.

New measures to benefit consumers - Corporate - Communities and Local Government

I dunno, is it right that party politics and ministerial vanity is allowed to (ab)use the machinery of Government to pollute important regulatory announcements in a similar marketing vein to that employed by credit card companies sending pre-signed cheques to strangers in the post?

'Don't look at the APR box, look at this big picture here instead - you could be on that beach! Don't you worry your pretty head about the details.'

Rant aside, moving on.

However, in the explanatory memorandum to the new regs - the APR box - it confusingly says:

It is the Department’s view, therefore, that this temporary exemption is not working in the consumer interest and should end at the earliest opportunity.

Explanatory memorandum (pdf)

But instead of sticking to the timetable everyone should've been planning to, it first wants to give "industry  and consumers time to prepare". What?!

It then adds: "the Government believes that ending the temporary exemption should be synchronised with the introduction of the PIQ on 6 April 2009."

I suppose that's the holiday. Only it now (unhelpfully) coincides with the seasonal property upswing.

Simon Thomas of the Independent Pack Providers Association (IPPA) is keen to assure estate agents that marketing need not be delayed when FDM ends.

"Estate Agents have no need to worry as the elements of the pack that will be required prior to marketing commencing will take no longer to complete than most agents take to produce their sales particulars", he said.

Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ)

I've swayed for and against the PIQ since it was proposed earlier this year: isn't it really just trying to do the job estate agents should already be performing as part of the sales process? It's called product knowledge.

The fact that few do is justifiable cause to legislate, you might counter. Except, the memorandum points out that:

the PIQ is not intended to be a legal document or to replace the work of conveyancers and other property professionals, which will continue to be required as the transaction is finalised.

(emphasis theirs, not mine)

There is no legal bite to the document, just a warning that incorrect or misleading information may later endanger the sale if exposed.

It also admits that some questions in the PIQ are asked again later by conveyancers - duplicates.

The final format of the PIQ will include additional questions on flooding, gas and electrical safety, and the removal of questions relating to the title number and boundaries.

New build PIQ

A separate PIQ is being introduced for new build homes.

Personal searches

The temporary extension period also applies to private search companies using insurance protection against "information gaps in personal searches", a loophole many believe is being exploited to cut costs, thus lowering reliability and incurring duplicate search costs for the buyer.

IPPA is reserving final judgement on the full effect which, by the time FDM ends, will include a new Local Authority charging regime and improved access to search data.

Simon said: "It's important that the quality of Searches supplied within HIPs is improved and we support any action that achieves this aim. We will have to wait and see how changes to legislation impact those involved in the industry."


From 1st January 2009, documents "currently required to be included in HIPs in the case of leasehold sales" are to become authorised documents, except the lease itself.

The PIQ is to be used for providing summary information such as ground rent, property use restrictions etc... to overcome the time it takes to compile "large volumes of leasehold information before [sellers] begin marketing" under the current system. It will become a required document of the HIP from 6 April 2009.

Property portfolios

Only one HIP will be needed when selling a portfolio of properties, even when some of them may not be vacant possession (eg: sitting tenants).

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Posts: 3
Re: New regulations including Property Information Questionnaire announced
Reply #1 on : Wed December 10, 2008, 09:53:33
'Nor will this mean extra burdens for estate agents - they will still be able to advise potential clients about properties they expect to be coming onto the market soon. ???
Posts: 1
Re: New regulations including Property Information Questionnaire announced
Reply #2 on : Wed December 10, 2008, 10:12:33
That sounds like a line from SPLINTA ;)

Posts: 3
Re: New regulations including Property Information Questionnaire announced
Reply #3 on : Thu December 11, 2008, 13:04:29
As I understand the governments latest figures based on 16,000 transactions is that HIPs speeds up a sale by 6 days - and is I assume based on the period date of instruction to date of completion. If as government figures also indicate it takes 3 to 5 days to produce a HIP after April 6th then the 6 day improvement will need to be reduced by 3 to 5 days thus meaning the net improvement to buyers/sellers is 1 to 3 days. The PIQ questions may mean a seller might need to consult their solicitor before commiting themselves to an answer thus potentially eliminating any timesaving at all.

As there is no legal penalty to an error in the PIQ information and it is likely some of the questions will be covered by solicitors and conveyancers one has to wonder what is the point of the document - after all a buyer is at liberty to ask any question they so wish of a seller or agent and always have been.

As far as EPC's are concerned these can quite easily stand alone - after all that is the case when it comes to selling or letting of Non Dwellings.

If there is to be any major improvement in the speed of property transactions then government really needs to sit down with the likes of Agents, Lawyers,Bankers,Land Registry, DEA's, Local Authorities etc etc and reappraise the process from top to bottom rather than the piecemeal way things seem to have been done in the past.

Posts: 3
One HIP for a Portfolio
Reply #4 on : Sat December 20, 2008, 00:14:24
Your comment about a Portfolio of properties requiring one HIP is intriguing. At the moment Portfolios are exempt from the HIP regs. I have not come across any change to this arrangement in any government statements.

A HIP contains specific information relating to one distinct property. I do not see how one HIP could be used to cover a portfolio of properties. I would be grateful if you could point me towards the source of your information.

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