12 March 2009
Latest survey from MDA SearchFlow highlights industry attitudes towards Home Information Packs (HIPs)
Findings reveal tough market conditions, increased cooperation between conveyancers and estate agents, and the need for fuller information
MDA SearchFlow (www.searchflow.co.uk), the UK's largest property search information provider, has today unveiled the findings of its recent survey looking at the current state-of-play of the conveyancing and Home Information Pack (HIP) market. This latest survey, conducted amongst 250 senior level decision-makers from across the legal sector, offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the current economic situation is affecting the conveyancing market, whilst also exploring market sentiment regarding HIPs.
The majority of those questioned confirmed that they have been forced to reduce staff numbers as a result of the 'credit crunch', although a small percentage have seen opportunities to grow their business. Administrative and secretarial staff have been hardest hit by staff reductions, with a third of all respondents’ firms making cutbacks in those specific areas. However, the significant majority (70%) have concentrated their cutbacks in conveyancing only, as opposed to other departments.
The survey also showed that HIPs still represent a way of generating additional revenue, with the majority of legal professionals questioned – more than 60 percent – now providing HIPs directly to their clients. At the same time, almost a quarter of respondents reported that they are currently receiving the majority of their referrals from estate agents. As a result, less than 25% of respondents viewed estate agents as competitors for conveyancing work, and in fact viewed them as important. This runs contrary to the received wisdom that agents and solicitors were pitched in a high street conveyancing battle.
"Clearly, faced with these tough economic times, cooperation between key industry partners remains the best way to successfully weather this storm," says David Kempster, Marketing Manager, MDA SearchFlow. "It is also interesting to note, however, that conveyancers have begun to take ownership of HIPs a lot more now, with more than 60 percent currently providing HIPs directly to clients.”
The survey also revealed that nearly half of all respondents believe that the Conservative Party, if elected, would abolish HIPs altogether. Nonetheless, the idea of an "Exchange-ready HIP" still appeals to the majority of those questioned, who would consider this kind of enhanced HIP – containing items like an official search and several key diligence searches – as having more value than HIPs in their current form.
Respondents were also asked what additional information would be of benefit to a seller when preparing a HIP. The consensus was that there would be very little, if anything, that sellers would like to see added, especially if it would increase the price. When working on behalf of the buyer, however, there were a number of additions suggested to improve a HIP, including Mandatory Chancel Repair Searches, Flood reports, Environmental reports and other popular conveyancing reports.
"In order for HIPs to be considered truly useful in the eyes of the industry, they will need to contain content that a buyer's solicitors will accept, like the Con29 and other searches," Kempster added. "Our survey has shown that most respondents believe that HIPs can only be used as an effective tool to accelerate the conveyancing process if full diligence information is included as standard."
About MDA SearchFlow
Built on entrepreneurial vision 25 years ago, SearchFlow is the UK’s number one property search information provider. The Company provides a one-stop shop for sending and receiving property searches and Home Information Pack (HIP) content for legal professionals, estate agents, and HIP providers who conduct property and other financial transactions.
In April 2006, Macdonald Dettwiler & Associates (MDA) acquired the interests of SearchFlow and PSA and the merged company, MDA SearchFlow was created. It is run by the existing SearchFlow management team with over 50 years combined experience in the property industry. The web address is http://www.searchflow.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1483 537 890
Tel: 0870 787 7625
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