Earlier this year, the National Trading Standards (NTS) announced changes to rules regarding the material information that estate agents are expected to include in listings through property portals. The first of these changes will come fully into effect at the end of May, but what are they, and what do they mean for you?
What is material information?
Material information is the important information that homebuyers or tenants need to make a fully informed decision about whether to buy or rent a property. This can range from traditional elements of property descriptions, for example, the sale price, tenure information, number of bedrooms, to broadband speeds and the availability of renewable energy sources.
Under current legislation, estate agents and letting agents have a legal obligation to share this information with potential homebuyers and tenants.
What are the changes for?
In January 2021 the NTS carried out research finding that homebuyers and tenants overwhelmingly (90% of respondents) preferred to find detailed or key information about a property on a portal. The vast majority (87%) also believed that property portals should include all key information about a home in their property listing.
The same research also found that property transactions that fall through cost consumers £1,571 and estate agents £4,123 on average. So, in order to better inform homebuyers and tenants and safeguard agencies, the NTS moved to create a defined list of material information which is going to be implemented in a three-step approach.
What are the new rules?
As mentioned before, the new rules will be introduced in three steps:
1. Step 1 – covers information that determines "unavoidable costs” that you will have to pay once they occupy the property. This will include the council tax band, the tenure information, the price of the property and the price of any deposits.
2. Step 2 – will cover information “established for all properties”, this will include things such as utilities and available broadband speeds. This information could affect your decision, such as if you need high-speed broadband for work, or don’t want to deal non-standard utility systems.
3. Step 3 – will cover additional information that doesn’t apply to all properties but should be included if it does. This includes environmental risks to a property based on its location, such as flooding.
Property portals' systems are currently being updated for Part A to be implemented for the end of May 2022, agents will have to ensure that they collect and add all the required information in line with the regulations. If any fields are left blank, they will be flagged on the listing with advice on why the information is important and how to get it.
What does this mean for me?
Whether you are looking to buy or sell, the new system being implemented by the NTS gives you more information and more power to make decisions.
For buyers it will give a clear picture of the full costs involved and the state of the property (a big benefit is you will no longer have to use the government website to figure out a house’s council tax band!), this will lead to firmer decision making and less surprises down the road.
This in turn benefits sellers as buyers are coming in more informed and more committed. Thus, giving you more opportunities to solve any issues straight away and reducing the chances of a sale falling through later down the line