This is all an attempt by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agents Team to define what constitutes ‘material information’ for property listings.
David Cox, Rightmove’s legal and compliance director, says: “It’s been really encouraging to see that more than 80 per cent of all property listings on Rightmove now include the tenure of a property; up from 70 per cent last year before we started to encourage more agents to add this information to help with National Trading Standard’s initiative. We hope that having an industry-agreed official list of material information will better help agents know exactly all the info they need to add when they’re advertising properties.”
Jason Tebb, chief executive of OnTheMarket, adds: "We are supportive of any innovations which help both our estate agent customers and our home buying consumers. We are already working on ways to enhance the properties on our site with more material information and we share the view that more transparency throughout a property transaction could lead to a smoother process for estate agents, buyers and sellers."
Bryan Mansell, chief executive of Gazeal - which supplied some statistics to NTSELAT as the foundation for its proposals - says: "We at Gazeal have been providing transparent property information services for estate agents to use for the last 24 months. We are delighted that various industry bodies are now coming together to bring long-overdue change to the provision of key information, vital to help home movers make informed educated decisions about property. Our hope is that all estate agents and conveyancers embrace this positive move and together bring a much-needed element of trust into the moving process.”
Redress bodies have also given their blessing with Sean Hooker, head of redress at The Property Redress Scheme, commenting: “This is great news for the consumer and will lead to a much more transparent and consistent way of introducing properties to the market. It will also give clarity and assurance to agents that they are doing the right thing, will set the ground rules on what is expected and avoid the consequences of not providing a good level of information. Fewer complaints, faster transactions, happier customers, what is not to like?”
And Rebecca Marsh, Ombudsman at The Property Ombudsman, adds: “This is a positive start along a path that will eventually see full disclosure of material information embedded not only in the ways agents conduct their business but importantly in how properties are presented on the portals. By providing more vital information at the point a consumer first becomes aware of a property, the less likely transactions are to fail, leading to higher consumer trust and confidence in the sector.”
Nathan Emerson, Propertymark’s chief executive, says: “Being able to provide transparent material information upfront is essential to helping all parties in the home buying and selling process make informed decisions. This means that consumers have a better knowledge, making the process easier, reducing fall through rates and allowing the agents and conveyancers to be more proactive and efficient. The industry has long held the goal of decreasing the time required to progress from sale agreed to completion and these improvements are in sight.”
Later parts of this three-phase project includes mandatory information that is considered material, 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 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.