Can my agent sell my house without a Home Information Pack?

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A. The short answer is no – in fact, it’s downright illegal. The law is absolutely clear on this: no property may be put on the market without a HIP already in place. So, if this agent is suggesting that you somehow don’t actually need a HIP at all, or that it’s OK to put your home on the market first and worry about the HIP later – or even that he’s already got a likely buyer in mind, and the delay in getting the HIP might jeopardise the sale - then he is talking about breaking the law.

Of course, you might then ask, so what? After all, it’s the agent who is legally liable – so if he is prepared to take the chance, why should you worry? Well, first of all, at some stage or other the buyer’s solicitor is going to want to see a HIP – and if one doesn’t exist, then that sale’s not going anywhere. Besides, if this agent is trying to steal a march on the competition by suggesting you let him market your property straight away, instead of waiting for the HIP to be produced, then the chances are that some other law-abiding agent will get to hear of it and inform Trading Standards.

But in any case, ask yourself this simple question. What sort of service do you think you’re likely to get from an agent who is so desperate for your business that he is prepared to break the law in order to get it? What other corners is he going to cut?

No, all in all, it makes no sense whatsoever to take a chance on using an agent who by his very actions is showing himself to be thoroughly dishonest. Much better to choose a well-established, reputable firm – if possible, on the basis of personal recommendation from someone who has recently moved house themselves. Using a decent supplier, a good agent can normally get a HIP produced in just 5 days, often even less. A leasehold property, or one with unregistered title, might take a little longer. But much, much better to be safe than sorry.