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Upfront material information is a huge opportunity - here's why

Parts B and C of Material Information guidance are on the horizon and expected to come into play this autumn.

I caught up with Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at The Conveyancing Association, and Paul Offley, Group Compliance Officer at nurtur.group, to discuss the reasons why the industry should move away from seeing the collection of Material Information as a burden, and instead look at the huge opportunity that exists if collectively we get this right.

So why should agents jump in with both feet?


What proof do we have that Material Information works?

Beth explained the impact that bringing more Material Information upfront has already had on the industry: “The benefits are massive, not just in financial terms with increased pipeline turn and time and money saved, but in driving a faster, more efficient and less stressful process for everyone.

“We only need to look at Scotland to see that upfront information is a huge success; it has reduced their fall through rate by 60% compared to England and Wales. Or we can look to Norway to see the positive impact it has, by the agents gathering all information upfront for potential buyers, speeding up the process, delighting their clients and increasing their fees.”

Paul added: “Auction is another great example to showcase the benefits that upfront information can have on fall through rates and the speed to completion. If it can work for auction there is no reason why the same principles can’t work as best practice in Private Treaty, to give buyers more information to help them make informed decisions and give sellers the confidence that they are sale ready.”

How does Material Information power fast transactions?

Addressing the need to bust the myths, Ben asked Beth about agents who are worried that more Material Information upfront may put buyers off.

Beth explained: “Agents are so savvy, they sell houses all the time that may have cosmetic flaws or potential downfalls, but they use their networks and skill to help find buyers a bargain and get the best deals for sellers. It’s the same with Material Information. The more information they have at their fingertips, the more chance they have of finding the right buyer, not a buyer that will want to renegotiate as soon as they have all the facts and add weeks to the already tedious process.”

Paul added: “There are also concerns it will put sellers off, but in current market conditions where disinstruction rates are sitting at about 40% in England and Wales, finding ways to make a client ‘more sticky’ has to be a positive. Once they have invested in handing over all of the Material Facts to an agent they are less likely to move to another agent at the first hurdle.”

Beth said: “We see this working in practice in Scotland, the Home Report shows that Material Information regulation has had no impact on the number of properties going on the market but has reduced the number of fall throughs by 60%, which of course will naturally reduce the number of disinstructions.”

Could Estate Agents charge higher fees for Material Information?

Beth said: “If we take the Nordics as an example, agents are able to position themselves as a higher value partner to clients, as realtors, they have fee structures much higher than standard UK fees. As well as valuation information they gather legal information and standard property facts, they can advise clients with all the information, help them to make informed decisions and have the time to seek out the best properties for their clients to drive their pipeline.”

“Material Information success in the UK will offer agents the opportunity to take the hours saved and use it to provide an even better service for their clients and in time increase their fees but if nothing else, it reduces offer to exchange by 10 weeks on average in pilot. That’s 10 weeks less chasing progress updates for everyone – that has to be an FTE salary saved.”

Paul added: “It’s a competitive fees market, but we’ve seen agents take the leap and charge for services like AML to accommodate for digital services which automate or speed up the process. Consumers aren’t shying away, we’re used to paying for a premium service.”

How you can get prepared for upfront Material Information.

Our Material Information Hub is regularly updated with insights and tips to help you to get prepared, with new content being added in the run-up to Parts B & C coming into play.

Using this time to explore tech solutions that can help you and your team to effectively deliver on parts A, B and C without adding to your admin load is also worth doing.


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