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By Phil Spencer

Founder, Move iQ


Phil Spencer: More Property Details are a Good Thing

There’s a spotlight now on property listings and as with so many changes in our industry, this is a case of regulators catching up with what the very best agents are already doing.

However, for a minority of agents the changes should act as a warning bell.

I’m talking of course about the need to put Material Information in the details of properties, whether that’s on your own website, on portals or in printed brochures.


The aim is to increase the information contained in details in three phases, so that ultimately a buyer will have much more upfront intelligence about a property’s condition and its facilities than they have now.

The result, it’s hoped, will be more informed buyers less likely to withdraw from a deal at a late stage when they discover something they should, ideally, have been told about earlier.

This initiative is led by Trading Standards, but it isn’t a top-down imposition on agents - it’s backed by Propertymark, Rightmove and Zoopla, and consumer groups across the board. 

Why Change Is Needed

I have to say that, as a fan of buyers having the maximum information upfront, this has my full support too.

In my day job I see literally hundreds of property details every year and of course many are fantastic. They have full details, room measurements, floorplans, excellent photos, virtual tours and more - there’s a huge array of these presentational tools open to agents these days.

But occasionally I see something that’s pretty shocking.

Some agents just put “coming soon” and use stock photos of locations on very cursory details about a property - they then slap that on websites and the portals, just to tease buyers into getting in touch, even if the home turns out to be completely inappropriate.

Other agents don’t even put room measurements in and don’t want to pay for professional floorplans, thinking that in a hot market of the kind we’ve seen for two years all properties will be snapped up quickly, so why bother with details?

Consumers Value Information

As I say, this is thankfully a small minority but if you’re a buyer in an area where such an agent operates, it’s a big problem - you can be misled into thinking a home is right for you, only to find a problem later.

That customer’s frustration leads to an anti-agent sentiment that hurts the whole industry, not just those who deserve it. So let’s embrace the Material Information drive.

What The New Rules Mean

The changes are being introduced in three phases. The first - which is happening now - is very simple: it says all details must carry the specific sale or rental price (so no more ‘price on application’) along with the council tax band, and tenure information such as leasehold, freehold or commonhold.

Things will get more demanding soon, however.

The second and third phases will be announced after the summer and and will include material information such as how a home has been constructed, whether there is an absence of certain utilities, details of restrictive covenants, evidence of flood risk and other specific factors that may impact a buyer’s decision to purchase. This might also include information on mobile telephone reception and broadband speed too.

Property portals have already changed formats to make space for these details and if this information is not included, users are automatically advised to ‘contact agent’.

There’s speculation that agents who continue to omit this information may ultimately find that their imperfect listing will be rejected completely by portals and - as a final deterrent - a £200 fine per property is said to be under consideration, although not yet confirmed.

Most agents take buyers seriously and so include these details, but the changes will bring the whole industry into line. And about time too.

Changes Will Help Agents as well as Buyers

My consumer service Move iQ has teamed up with a range of organisations to provide more upfront information - for example Propertymark to give the latest market information and our property reports are powered by Sprift, serving up data about locations.

Agents who adopt a similar approach, using any of the slew of services now available to provide more upfront data, will see that it pays dividends.

Less time wasted on inappropriate viewings, fewer offers made by ill-prepared buyers, and a reduction in deals collapsing - really, what’s not to like?

*Phil Spencer is a presenter, author, businessman and property investor. Phil’s consumer advice platform Move iQ, is a website, YouTube channel and podcast. Each preserve and reflect the same impartiality that consumers trust and base their property moving plans.


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