These changes represent the first phase of a project by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team in partnership with industry leaders and major property portals, to define what constitutes ‘material information’ for property listings.
NTSELAT says the new required information is the first of three phases.
Part A of this three-phase project includes information that is considered material for all properties. A further two phases are being developed, which will incorporate further material information such as restrictive covenants, flood risk and other specific factors that may impact certain properties.
As new data fields for tenure, price and council tax are added to portals, if they are left empty by an agent, this will be flagged on the listing so consumers can see what information is missing. This will link to advice on why that information is important and how it may be obtained.
National Trading Standards wants all material information to be mandatory on property listings once all three phases of the project are complete. At that stage, agents will need to include all the required information before it is listed on a property portal.
A statement this morning from NTSELAT claims it has evidence showing overwhelming support within the industry for the mandatory disclosure of material information.
It says benefits include a reduction in unnecessary enquiries, swifter sales and fewer transaction fall-throughs.
James Munro, senior manager at NTSELAT, says: “This represents an important milestone in the journey to improve material information on property listings. I’m delighted with the progress that has been made with the industry to help define and clarify what constitutes material information and I am grateful to the property portals and other industry leaders who have supported this work.
“I am aware that there are software companies who are already enabling this information to be included in property listings.
“These technical changes will prompt all players in the property market to do things a bit differently. Vendors and agents may find that bringing conveyancers on board at the outset helps ensure all information is available for marketing, and issues with things like restrictive covenants or boundaries can be addressed earlier.
“For consumers, a better understanding of why certain information such as a property’s tenure is important will enable them to make informed decisions when they embark on a property search.
“This project will make it easier for estate and letting agents to meet their legal obligations and we look forward to supporting them as they get to grips with a new way of working. We also welcome the involvement of the conveyancers, lawyers and other organisations who are already on board with the process and are putting support in place for agents.”
A minister from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities - Neil O'Brien - comments: “A key part of levelling up is creating a fair and just housing system that works for everyone, and this includes supporting more first-time buyers to move onto the housing ladder. Far too often when buying and selling properties, deals fall through, costing young people thousands of pounds in wasted expense. By providing all the necessary information up front, this can be avoided, and it will make the process of buying a first home much easier and more cost-effective.”
NTSELAT says estate agent letting agents will be supported to prepare for the changes at each stage by Trading Standards in partnership with professional bodies and redress schemes.
A full list of the Part A material information is available on the National Trading Standards website here; this also gives an overview of the type of information that will be included in Parts B and C.
Full guidance for the industry is being developed in conjunction with industry partners to cover all three phases, as well as guidance to support consumers looking to buy, sell or rent a property.
The steering group behind today's changes includes members from redress schemes and professional bodies representing agents alongside OnTheMarket, Rightmove and Zoopla in collaboration with software companies. Northern Ireland’s PropertyPal portal is piloting the project in advance of its wider adoption across the UK.