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Education changes mindsets to the power of upfront material information

Fortune favours the brave, as the saying goes. So, when you consider how upfront material information can and does make the property transaction quicker, smoother and more efficient for those who are already using it, it begs the question: How many more estate agents will have the courage to adopt it and gain competitive advantage, or resist it and get left behind?

It is up to the industry to change mindsets and educate itself and consumers on how together it can make the transaction process work better and more efficiently for everyone involved.

Take the fear out of the moving process


There’s a crisis of confidence in the home moving process that’s being compounded further by the  current economic uncertainty. Upfront property information is transformational to estate agency businesses and has the power to restore faith in the consumer experience. It increases certainty for home movers in their purchases, reduces transaction times and fall throughs, improves confidence and engagement in the process and reduces stress. Everyone benefits.

The upfront information revolution is happening now

Under existing Consumer Protection for Unfair Trading Regulations, when advertising the property, the estate agent must reveal everything that the average consumer would consider would impact their transactional decision.

The industry tide is turning towards simplifying the property transaction process, as HM Land Registry (HMLR) has announced a ‘new vision’ for a digital property market to save time and money on the conveyancing process.

Meanwhile, the Home Buying and Selling Group (HBSG) is proactively working with the industry and government to address the delays obtaining necessary material information and lack of transparency. They provide agents with a legally-recognised BASPI dataset for upfront information. Digital versions of BASPI, such as the mio Property Information Form which forms the centerpiece of the sales management hub’s new Seller’s Information Pack, offer a secure, quick and convenient method of obtaining this digitally.

Removing obstacles to the transaction process

Time taken to gather material information for the conveyancing process is a main cause of delays. So, by getting this information ready early, preferably at instruction, estate agents can get sellers both market and sale ready at the same time and shorten the transaction time by weeks. Allowing buyers to purchase in full awareness of what they’re really investing in means more suited, committed chains. That also means fall through risk also lowers, ensuring that for estate agents and conveyancers alike, their investment in time and resources are not wasted and they will see revenue pipelines turn with greater frequency.

Matthew Brewer, Founder of YouConvey, believes it’s incumbent on those working across the property industry to develop a modal shift in customer expectations for material information. Matthew explains: “We need to change the mindset of the consumer, and that can only be delivered if it is tackled almost from all angles by professionals in that industry. It’s got to start with Estate Agents, conveyancers and brokers. If everyone promotes the same agenda, then it becomes much easier to change the mindset of the consumers, so that they think, ‘yes, if we go on the market, we will be more organised and have everything in place,’ making the management of expectations much easier.”

It’s time to raise consumer expectations

Consumers today expect – and get - better access to information and faster, more convenient transactions in all sectors except property, making it look out-of-touch by comparison. It is inevitable then that,  over time, customers will come to expect a more transparent, quicker and less frustrating property transaction.

National Trading Standards has launched an awareness campaign aimed at home movers about changes to material information, but there’s more work agents can do to educate their customers to get themselves prepared for eventual sale from the outset. 

Sellers don’t want their property sale or purchase to be dogged by pitfalls. That’s why they are overwhelmingly accommodating and engaged when agents take the initiative by introducing upfront material information into the sales process and explain the benefit of getting their property information prepared early, as Tom Carter, Partner & former Chairman at McCartneys comments: “Consumers are only familiar with the process as it’s historically been, but if we’re going to make these changes, then we’ve got to get the consumers on  board at the same time.”

Paul Albone, Chief Operating Officer at tmgroup, adds: “It’s about the principle and process of doing things earlier in the transaction. Being more informed ‘upfront’ means that we can work with higher confidence levels within the transaction and also educate the home mover about the anticipated process.”

Education, education, education

tmgroup’s ‘Back to the Future’ industry research report has revealed that over half of respondents had never heard of upfront information, with conveyancers most lacking in awareness. Less than 1 in 3 were looking into how they could implement upfront information while nearly 1 in 10 have no plans to do anything or aren’t interested in it. That tells us that the property industry needs to be better at educating the market and building awareness of how, facilitated by technology, we can really change the profession for the better.

Despite some inertia surrounding upfront information,  there are already early positive signs for its adoption, as over 1 in 5 respondents said they are already using it, mostly Estate Agents, largely due to changes to the Consumer Protection Regulations.

Estate agents are in a great position to seed wider awareness and adoption of material information among conveyancers. Since the moving process starts with the agent, they can promote dialogue and participation with their conveyancing partners about the merits of increased, earlier collaboration in the process.

With accessible digitised upfront material information provisions such as the mio Seller’s Information Pack, estate agents can demonstrate how they can not only provide valuable new business referrals, but also how they can introduce sale ready, sellers with legally compliant completed paperwork - complete with material information disclosure and land registry data, ready for the conveyancer to begin proactively working with. Early, verified property information such as this also lightens the initial load for conveyancers and facilitates an early warning system, by flagging any potential issues and initiating more detailed checks without delay. Working together, they can help to manage mover’s expectations, keep a steady ship and raise the service standard they can offer to their customers.

tmgroup’s Chief Operating Officer, Paul Albone says, “We still have the issue around trust and source of data or provenance, but the more we can do upfront, the more opportunities we have for sharing the information and streamlining the process. Data standards are important, so we can seamlessly pass this data between connected systems and the new Property Data Trust Framework should help us do just that.”

Reap what you sow

Simply doing the basics well with the implementation of material information into sales processes can bring about a smoother process, as Simon Wilkinson, main Board Director at PropertyMark, explains: “How can you value a property if you haven’t seen the land registry title documents and boundary plans? It comes down to the estate agency basics like having a much fuller Memorandum of Sale, in which you have an agreement in principle and you have seen proof of funds, which you hand over with the seller’s full name and Title Number to the conveyancer.”

It's important to remember too that today’s buyers are tomorrow’s sellers. Giving them the power to make informed decisions with material information and transact with greater speed and certainty will raise the bar on future consumer expectations and reflect positively on the property industry as a whole. That itself has the potential to become a key driver for the pace and scale of change demanded by home movers in years to come.  


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