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Upfront Property Info - huge majority of agents want it now

A survey suggests that an overwhelming proportion of estate agents believe the government should make the provision of upfront property information mandatory. 

The poll found that 91 per cent wanted upfront information and only nine per cent opposed the idea. The survey was one of several taken at a webinar, attended by hundreds of agents and hosted by pro-upfront information company Gazeal.

Other polls included one looking at how long agents believed a typical house move would take: for 57 per cent it was three months, for 29 per cent it was four months, and for 13 per cent it was six months.


A further poll asked agents when they are most likely to be instructed. For just six per cent this was before the initial appointment with sellers while for 24 per cent instruction happens at the appointment itself, and for the lion’s share - 70 per cent - instruction occurs after the appointment. 

A final survey at the event asked whether the government’s official How to Sell guide should feature as part of an agent’s listing process, to which a massive 92 per cent said yes - just eight per cent disagreed. 

Gazeal co-founder Bryan Mansell says: “The numbers suggest that most sellers, therefore, expect a fairly quick sale, with a turnaround of only three months. And the speed of a sale can 100 per cent be improved by the provision of upfront information as standard, to move things along much swifter.” 

He adds: “The poll results above show the industry is willing to change, and is ahead of the government in terms of upfront information, which is a no-brainer for so many.

“At Gazeal, we’re keen not to just be another PropTech firm, we’re here to help agents, to help them grow their bottom lines and enhance their business … We are creating hundreds of reports to help agents win more instructions and win the battle for listings, which is going to be the dominant theme of 2022.” 

Last week Estate Agent Today reported that one of the back-room drivers behind reform of the house buying process - civil servant Matt Prior - would be moving to the issue of leasehold reform next month, after several years working on ‘upfront information’ issues such as reservation agreements.

You can see more on Prior’s move here.

  • Rob Hailstone

    Up front info. An easy first step would be to get the seller to instruct a conveyancer when the property is first marketed, and not wait until an offer has been accepted.

  • Andrew Ireland

    We’ve been here so many times, sellers don’t have the money for up front selling costs.
    But, the government may decide that agents do.
    I would say be careful what you wish for

    Bryan Mansell

    Andrew, you are right, hence why Gazeal do not have any charges for this for seller or agent.

  • Peter Ambrose

    I'll put it out there.

    What kind of upfront information are we taking about here, and what part of the process is slowed down today by the lack of it?

    I mean ... I don't recall a transaction being delayed because a Fittings and Contents form was not filled in.

    I'm also struggling to remember the last time a deal fell over because we had to download a FENSA certificate from a website.

    I could be wrong of course.

    Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    Are you suggesting Peter, that I could sell my property that has a new boiler, a new wood burner, some new electrical systems and an extension without having to provide any evidence that they were appropriately installed or had appropriate planning consent and completion certificates?

    These are all items that a seller needs to keep safe and make available to satisfy the enquiries of the buyer to ensure that they are not inheriting any issues.
    If they are not to hand, this represents a delay.

    Compound that by all links in the chain, and it represents a significant delay and stress for all. Sometime the delay in progress is unfairly seen as an unwillingness to proceed which can cause people to withdraw. Another reason for withdrawal is the inability to hit someones proposed deadline.

    Why is a call for upfront data and for home owners to be better organised constantly marginalised when it is evidently an issue and a component part of delays occurring with transactions.

    The solution is not looking to apportion blame, only to provide a supportive framework for homeownership, whether selling or not.

    Bryan Mansell

    How many 'additional enquires' are raised just before exchange due to missing certificates or documents? This is supposed to be supportive to sellers, buyers, conveyancers and agents. Better advice can be given earlier to the public based on factual information that has been supplied. This benefits everyone.

    Bryan Mansell

    Peter, by your comment I assume then that you do not support the advice given by industry and government to sellers in the 'How to Sell Guide' that I referred to in my article? 'Sale Ready' you will of course be in the minority.

  • Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    Getting a conveyancer instructed helps to highlight the information that a seller needs to find to be able to progress a transaction. The conveyancer simply sends out an instruction pack and the standard protocol forms, but a client still needs to find all the required information.
    Homeowners need to be ensuring that all property related paperwork, certificates and compliance paperwork is kept is one place, ideally in a secure digital environment from which they can share important data quickly.
    The hold up of most transactions is the lack of information that a seller is able to put their hands on.
    Agents can really help with this as part of a nurturing marketing campaign to get property owners assets better organised.whether they are selling now or in a few years time. Solutions are given to homeowners for FREE avoiding the concerns of cost getting in the way.
    Digital Property Logbook distribution is a growing trend and something that will start to drive better outcomes for the market.
    The direction of travel and future mandates are clear, so why wait to make a difference for your clients?

    Bryan Mansell

    Daniel, you make good points here, there are many conveyancers that send out the pack early if instructed by the seller at listing, however very few share this information with a buyer prior to a key decision stage, making an offer. This is another benefit of being prepared earlier.

  • icon

    Having achieved an exchange in 2 weeks and a day, having displayed all my properties information in a PIP Vault during the marketing phase of the property, i clearly believe in it. I am a strong believer that the more information a seller can gather and share with a potential buyer, the better informed the buyer will be and less likely to have surprises that give them opportunity to change their mind. Don't forget that quicker exchanges help reduce fall throughs as well.

  • icon

    Of course “Gazeal” - an up-front information service would say this!!

    Bryan Mansell

    As did nearly 300 agents who are not Gazeal. Also Gazeal do not charge anyone for this, its a free service.

  • Rob Hailstone

    Some conveyancers will take early instructions with very little or no up-front cost. Whether it speeds up the process by a day or a month, only time will tell, but what is wrong with getting the seller's ducks in a row asap?

  • Matthew Gardiner Legge

    I have lost count of the number of times a seller has told me they asked their solicitor to prepare information in advance only to be told that there's no point until a sale is agreed. Eyes to skyward.

    Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    So enable the seller to get prepared themselves and instruct a solicitor at the point of need safe in the knowledge that the seller is prepared.
    Just remember that not all solicitors available today will be around in 5 years time if they don’t want to help drive progress. Ensure you are working with one that does.

  • icon

    I agree Rob, getting the sellers to get their ducks in row early doors.. I have the benefit of being in the industry so unlike most, I understand the importance of providing the buyers with relevant information, so when i moved I provided what was required and more. I also have the benefit of having an extremely organised wife who kept everything from when we first moved in. With our buyer we had "zero" further enquiries from their Solicitor. Not everyone is as organised as my wife or has the benefit of being in this industry but there are baby steps to that can be taken to at least reduce the too-ing and frowing.
    When it comes to the "S" word (Searches) - continue with the digitisation programme so that one day a press of a button gives the property lawyer the data and analytics at a standard fee rate all underwritten for their protection. Will it happen en mass and become the way way of working ? who knows but one can hope.

    Bryan Mansell

    Like you Andy, I did exactly the same and provided this to my buyer before they made the decision to offer. Much easier all round.

    Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    What we are keen to do (and have been doing for the past 18 months) is making the 'S' word of interest to the buyer and not just a box ticking exercise to be performed by the solicitor.
    Searches should be of critical interest to the buyer, particularly the environmental reports that take only a few working hours to compile.
    We are already enabling buyers to bring their search result forward by an average of 6.2 weeks by ordering themselves.
    As for up front data, digital property logbooks distributed by agents that contain their branding that keep an owner in touch with the property market and enable them to store critical documentation for when and if they decide to sell is the way forward.

  • icon

    Is it not within the grasp of agents to ask for this missing information themselves, without having to get “the govt” to mandate it?

    What information in particular is missing? Pretty much everything you might need should either be held by the client or in a worst case scenario available to download online?

    Just ask for it.

    Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    No, may be not. But agents are influential. If you provide homeowners in your regions with a solution to organise themselves better, that keeps them up to date with market price fluctuations and guides them to keep documentation up to date in an environment that can easily be shared when required, why wouldn’t you?

  • Glenn Taylor

    I would advocate getting the searches up front but not items that can be addressed pdq.
    My problem is I am doing the sales issuing HOTs and then watching nothing develop with any speed slowing down more when you chase.
    The respect for agents is at an all time low caused by our obsession to self destruct our professionalism and present ourselves as carpet salespeople. To discount and claim the job is unskilled.
    When it is actually, when done properly, a marvelous skill but I digress sorry.

  • Richard Copus

    Sorry. I’m a bit late to this thread. I was instructed on a house to sell by conventional auction 10 days ago. The seller’s solicitor prepared an exchange ready legal pack as usual which was published a couple of days ago. I received an offer today a bit more than we were expecting to receive at auction in a month’s time and he came in this afternoon and signed the contract with the 10% deposit. It’s all like working in a different dimension.

  • icon

    Richard, this seems to be happening more and more. In the auction world where I work, we have been providing document rooms for the industry since 2008. To date over 250,000 lots have used one of our document rooms, with in excess of 2,600,000 documents uploaded for viewing and over 31,million documents downloaded by over 750,000 individuals.

    The point with these numbers is that in an industry that accounts for less than 2% of all property transactions there is clearly an appetite for legal and other information ahead of an exchange (which generally takes place on the fall of the gavel), and without the information being available ahead of the auction date very few sales would happen. The average time from catalogue being released to auction days is 18 days, and in this short time period because the information is available the buyer is able to exchange contacts on the day with a full understanding of the legal position.

    These benefits are easily transferable to the private treaty market and the auction model clearly demonstrates that the provision of comprehensive and reliable data can facilitate a quick exchange takes place. After all would you make an offer on a used car prior to seeing the logbook and service history?


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