It seems as though everyone with a property to sell is being asked to drop prices by their agents while no-one is looking to buy and yet sellers are still getting hammered for fees.
The steady decline of the property market over the last 9 months has meant many struggling estate agents now just upon the home information pack as an income generation tool, in a desperate attempt to salvage cash flow for their ailing businesses.
Now do not get me wrong. I understand the legal requirement to produce a Home Information Pack, however, this week alone I have personally spoken to over 20 people who have been charged for this, frankly useless document containing nothing that would prove useful or remotely relevant to the average UK homebuyer or even their agent.
On its own, it seems that the "HIP closing technique" as I now refer to it, is the only way agents have pinning buyers into a contract that is seldom fulfilled, which with many agents selling less than 1 property a week. Many buyers are offered with the offer to have these fees deducted upon sale; needless to say this sale rarely occurs leaving them in HIP-Pack limbo. Should they withdraw from a fruitless marketing campaign the charge is made.
So what happens to the HIP once purchased …. your guess is as good as mine.
Surveyors are not that interested in it; the buyer is totally bemused by its contents and the agent has no use for it once they have charged an average £ 500 for its production.
Call me a cynic but should the HIP be withdrawn it would be very interesting to see how many homes remained on the books of the average agent in the UK in the current climate.
My advice for any would-be seller is to minimize your sale costs and initially try selling privately at a realistic but reduced price in your local newspaper listings or on sites such as Gumtree or even EBay. Added incentives such as a gifted deposit or furniture included will stimulate more interest. Find online services to market your home such as Houseladder, House Web or other such sites and supplement this with the cheapest HIP provider you can find. There are providers charging as little as £ 250 so do not be ripped off. You may be better off paying a lower fee upfront and being free to choose your agent not come up with the goods. Should you feel you have to use an agent then request the shortest contract period possible and multi-agency is definitely a good idea.
Should you wish to list your property for sale free of charge, you can use the First Time Buyer Directory. This service gives direct access to over 1000 first time buyers across the UK and also offers assistance with raising a deposit via registered brokers and finance providers.