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Consumers demand upfront property details on portals

Momentum is building for agents to provide more information on property details and portals - not wait until a prospective buyer has expressed interest.

Yesterday the National Trading Standards and Letting Agents Team announced a survey for agents on how this can best be achieved.

But NTSELAT has now revealed a new document called The Case for Change: Improving Provision of Material Information In Property Sales and Lettings.


In addition it has produced the results of a survey of people who have moved in the last three years or are looking to move in the next three years. The survey shows that:

- 90 per cent of respondents who use portals would prefer to find detailed or key information about a property when they’re searching on a portal;

- 87 per cent of respondents agree that portals should include all key information about a home in their listing;

- More than half said that they would be less likely to buy or rent where information was missing on the property listing;

- 40 per cent of respondents assume that missing information means something wrong with the property.

The pressure for ‘more info sooner’ appears to be building on portals, which in turn will be expecting agents to do the heavy lifting.

Rightmove’s Legal & Compliance Director David Cox says: “The information that agents need to find out before marketing a property varies so much depending on the type of home, and so we support the drive to provide clear industry-wide guidance on basic material information.

"Unlike price and number of bedrooms which is already available on all listings, there are some features that aren’t displayed in every case, such as tenure, and so we’d like to hear from agents about what challenges they face in collecting this type of information. 

“Once a list is finalised we can help by explaining to prospective sellers and landlords what information they should already be starting to gather when they are thinking of coming to market, and help buyers and tenants understand what’s in the list and why.”

The new NTSELAT report is here.

The agents’ survey is here, with a submission deadline of May 17.

  • martin moston

    In the perfect world yes all this information is key. Problem is most owners don't know the length of a lease or if its RPI or a doubling ground rent. Who gets the blame and fined if wrong. The good old hardworking agent. Dealing with City centre apartments most online agents don't even know what a EWS-1 form is never mind advertising service charges. and ground rents :)

  • icon

    Interesting article. Information is key to decision making but what the inexperienced buyers generally don’t understand is that to get accurate lease terms, service charge details, rising ground rent info etc essentially anything ACCURATE that can be relied upon you need a management pack from the freeholder/managing agent and a solicitor would need to report on the lease, conditions etc. Info like service charges can fluctuate over time so if it takes 6 months to sell the second round of management info and charges can easily have changed and so the original info is misleading?. It’s all well and good trying to streamline these processes but it’s never that simple. The issue with buying and selling isn’t the miss information it’s the buyers/sellers/agents ability to communicate and understand the process. In addition the time it takes for information to be obtained (searches,surveys, management info). The time it takes solicitors to process a sale is one of the greatest challenges and should be addressed. For example we buy properties using cash and can generally exchange within 7 days. Introduce a buyer in a chain needing a mortgage and it takes months, throw in a lease and it takes even longer! Why? Because solicitors act for lenders not buyers and offer appoint their own solicitor to second check the files, management companies won’t provide info until they are paid and take forever to turn info around, search providers are hit and miss but essentially are churning out repetitive info that probably could be streamlined and solicitors who always seem to like to have the final say are more mindful of covering the ***** than giving a buyer good advice. Paperwork well that’s another topic sending a contract to a buyer to sign and insisting they have the original back before exchanging, well we never sign the contract our solicitor does it for us this saves days alongside many other things that can be done to save time and money that most people don’t know about. So comes back to education and the need an experienced agent )perhaps qualified) holding the hand of buyers and sellers through a difficult process. How does everyone feel about the online agents who take an upfront fee, don’t do the viewings never see the property or meet the buyers or seller and essentially just take a few and leave everything to chance?

  • James Scollard

    The issue with filling in a box 65 year lease or Service Charge £3,500 per annum, as upfront information, is not advantageous to the consumer.

    Unless, there is another box where an agent can add: "Although, there is a 65 year, the owner has had joint meeting with the leaseholders and they are not only looking into RTM but also SOF, they have a tentative offer for £8,500 plus £2,000 legal fees and £1,500 surveyor fees. However, it is provisional they are waiting for the freeholders surveyor to also provide a valuation. In regards the £3,500p.a. this is the service charge for this year, this is because they renewed the car park driveway and re-decorated the outside, from next year this drops to £1,000 per calendar month going forward. In this case, the property is being sold by a Housing Association and they are not allow to spend the money on lease extensions unfortunately, so the property is being sold as seen and it must be bought as a 65 year lease. However, there is legislation you maybe not be aware of about owning a leasehold flat for two years ... let me tell you about that ....

    Try putting all that in a tick box on a portal !

  • James Scollard

    I'm sure we have been here already with the failed Home Information Packs.

    Many sellers, especially in regards to say probate or repossessions etc, do not know the lease information and they do not want to pay £300 to the Managing Agents for the Leasehold Management Pack. (Which will be out of date when a sale is achieved and will need to pay again).

    Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    Don't start on the HIPs band wagon., That is not what is being suggested, HIPS failed for numerous reasons, the main one being it was a skinny version of what was initially intended and so was not comprehensive enough and no one trusted the data contained so work was duplicated.
    Any serious sellers will do what is necessary. There will always be exceptions, and those transactions will simply have to run slower.

  • James Scollard

    In the failed Home Information Packs, the mortgage lenders would not accept local searches that are 7 months old, the solicitors would not accept a management pack that is 7 months old. In conclusion, it was a waste of time and money.
    I think the Trading Standards should stick to enforcement of current legislation, rather than coming out with these banana ideas. If you want to improve the system - agents, RICS, Mortgage lenders and conveyancers - But mainly agents, need to be at the forefront of change.

  • Richard Rawlings

    There are so many things good agents should be including but seldom do. eg why do agents usually state that "the property is in Band D Rateable Value". Why make the buyer have to look this up? Just quote the current amount the buyer will need to pay. And while you're at it why not also be helpful in quoting the utility costs the seller typically pays. Or resident's parking permit. And how about a quote about what the seller has enjoyed about living in the property. And (swallow hard) the fact that the helpful agent has already ordered the searches in anticipation of a sale. And that there is a contract of sale ready to be assigned to a buyer, complete with standard answers to pre contract enquiries. And those are just for starters! Don't get me going. Have a fruitful day.

  • icon

    What a sloppy document from TS. They don't reveal the questions asked (likely to be leading postive questions like "do you think more information on each property would have been helpful?"). Nor does it suggest what information these buyers and tenants think is missing. This is simply TS fishing for information in an airy fairy way to justify their existance. We have enough red tape as it is. But from my point of view - floorplan, photos and location along with any material planning applications issues would be about it.

  • Bryan Mansell

    Many of those questions and required information are covered in the TA forms, so a full pack should include the 'actual' forms that are used in the transaction, the information can then be taken from there onto the portals.

  • Richard Rawlings

    You're right James - the purpose of property details is to stimulate interest from prospective buyers. For that, all you need is "How big is it, what does it look like, where is it, how much is it, and how do I arrange a viewing if I like what I see?" Most of the other details are only of interest to people whose interest has been established. And the good agent, with these readily to hand, can articulate exactly what the buyer wants to know, thereby elevating our standing as helpful, connected, professionals!

  • Richard Copus

    The fact that most agents don't know the length of a lease is irrelevant. They have had a legal obligation to know and understand lease details for some years now and all good agents publicise the lease term, unexpired years, ground rent and maintenance charges as a matter of course. These are the first things anyone wants to know when buying a flat so have to be classed as material info.

  • Dharmesh Mistry

    The clear message is that consumers want more, the choice now is whether agents want to give customers what they want or not...

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    Given the survey was based on 1,000 respondents and there are 1.4M buyers a year, 1.1M who get to completion, - here we go again a knee jerk idea based on the tiniest amount of data, who dreams these things up. Maybe have a survey based on the data of 500,000 buyers, that would be more useful.

    Conversely the vendors selling should also have a voice, so maybe get an analysis of what say 500,000 vendors think, do they feel a more forensic approach to detailing all the problematic areas of their prized asset being out there on show prior to getting a viewing is a good thing? I have sold numerous properties over the years which if documented would not have warranted a viewing, but in fact were real gems, their value either being the location, the views, or the proximity to services or communications, having little to do with the property itself.

    If after a large enough assessment has been made, not based on the straw poll, and there is a need for more clarity, instead of this burden of gaining more insight into properties falling onto the shoulders of the selling agent, clearly this is a perfect SaaS area, where the vendor pays a data company to dice and slice all the intel prior to contacting Mr Agent.

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    Mr P - you are 100% correct if there is a mortgagee - then the buyer's soliciter - is acting for the lender first and the buyer second - hence the snail rate of progress, solicitors do not fear the buyer suing them, but they do fear the power of the lender who not only can and will sue, but will also remove conveyancers from their panels. As you say cash is a five day gig on purchase, mortgage is a 28 day to 100 day gig, add a chain ... well usually in 165 days the deal can be done.

    To be fair to solicitors they are always the blind dumb protagonist, they have not viewed the property, they rely on pieces of paper to determine if it passes muster to be lent against and bought by the buyer. A lot to be said for the idea of solicitors virtually viewing properties 'together' with the vendor and buyer, you could quickly iron out lots of wrinkles, the need for a Fensa certificate, documentation for that new boiler, that wall that is missing has the ceiling been re-inforced, that garden fence is 10M out has the present occupier 'borrowed' some garden land from the railway comany, this would save the thousands of hours lost in chasing the minutiae that clogs sales.

    Dharmesh Mistry

    Sounds like your agreeing with me now ;o)

  • icon

    Who in their right mind says they don't want any more information? What a preposterous and leading survey.

    How many buyers give us feedback saying "its not quite the right area for us" despite there being a map and an address?
    "The spare room isn't quite big enough for us" despite there being a floorplan?
    "Can you tell me what the service charge / lease is" even when its listed in the description...
    "oh I didn't realise it was a basement flat" despite it being on the floorplan and description!?
    People don't read the detail... I don't blame them, its human nature, and even if they do read the detail but like the look of the pictures they'll still want to come and see it to see if they are willing to make the compromise.

    If agents deliberately mislead, then more fool them for wasting their own time trying to hide something which will no doubt come up in conveyancing later and damage their reputation in the long run.

    This is just more meaningless red tape which does nothing to improve any of the real issues impacting on our sector. Perhaps the trading standards team should focus on enforcing the current rules by shutting down the plonkers that give us all a bad name rather than telling us how to write our descriptions.

  • barry attree

    Well said, James!
    Some great comments on here which should hopefully lead the trading standards people in a different direction!
    Agents want and need a basic enforceable minimum standard that outlines the obvious needs and wants of 99.9% of buyers, who simply want to receive enough information that prompts them to contact the agent. An agents job is to market the property to obtain the best interest and negotiate the best price
    Providing buyers with too much information can and does confuse many prospective buyers!
    Rather than leading buyers and sellers down the garden path, why don't we go down the good old-fashioned KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID (KISS) route!


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