Agents told ‘not to panic’ about material information regulation changes

There have been many changes to material information rules since 2022, and the upcoming alterations to material information regulations will impact, and have already impacted, estate agents, letting agents, and property auctioneers in many ways.  

Part A was one of three directives enforced by National Trading Standards from May 2022, which covers material information for property listings. These standards were issued to lettings and estate agents not to intentionally exclude certain information in property listings, while guarding potential buyers and tenants when looking for a home.  

Parts B and C were added to the material information guidelines, and they will have consequences for lettings and estate agents. This is because the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) intend to implement a fairer set of definitions relating to which information contributes towards the concept of material information. According to the NTSELAT, this is to make the sector more consistent.  

The intention behind material information is to deploy the technology of platforms like Rightmove to monitor how agents describe a home, with a lot of work needed for printed brochures and agents’ websites. 

Stuart Collar-Brown, co-founder and director of My Auction and NAVA advisory panel member, said: “The changes are a huge advancement in the property market in terms of material information and will see potential buyers supplied with much more in depth information than they have been previously.  

 “The biggest message to estate agents and lettings agents is not to panic about material information for parts B and C. Most of what they will now ask for is information that you are able to find out easily via various portals and websites as well as liaising with your client on information only they and their solicitors would know. 

 “Effectively the Trading Standards Agency is asking you to do a full legal pack now when marketing a property, but this is something that the auction industry has been doing for decades. The changes are a good thing and will provide a potential buyer with much more transparency. It will also help disperse unmotivated sellers in the market. Sellers are not going to waste time and money to pay for these packs if they are not genuinely serious about selling.  

 “The changes mean that when an agent starts marketing the property, questions around things like titles, lease arrangements, service charges will already be answered. It will also look at factors like allocated parking, communal areas, shared access and more. Just think how much time and stress this change will take away, with all the information being provided upfront, at the start of any transaction. We’ll see less fall through rates and more robust offers with buyers less likely to pull out after 3-4 months if they have all the essential information before they even view. 

“We’ll also see faster transaction times with property sales able to exchange far quicker. For agents, shorter conveyance times and less fall throughs means more money into the business, which is always going to be seen as a good thing.” 

National Trading Standards want Part A to guarantee that all property listings contain the following information:  

+ Tenure: If a home is freehold, commonhold or leasehold, this must be stated clearly, as should how much of a percentage homeowners would have in a shared ownership property.  

+ Council tax or property rates.  

+ The asking price or rent.  

+ Energy Performance Certificates.  

 It was announced that Parts B and C of the material information rules are to be enforced as of June 2023.  

 Part B covers non-standard features that could determine someone’s choice to purchase a home such as parking, construction, and utilities options.  

Part C includes information that may or may not impact a person’s choice to purchase a home such as conservation area inclusion, listed status, easements, building safety and flood plains.  

Broadband coverage must also be included thanks to changes to Parts B and C due to an increasing number of people working from home.  

How will this impact auctioneers?  

It is vital that auctioneers are also aware of these changes because prior to the implementation of the material information regulations, auction legal packs, which are legal documents prepared by the seller’s solicitor, did not have to be compiled before a property was marketed, but now they do.  

Michael Holden, president of NAEA Propertymark and managing director of Holdens Chartered Surveyors & Building Consultancy, said: “This is a good move forward, but it really needs teeth. I think there needs to be regulation and I think this should be on an election manifesto. There is so much obfuscation in the selling process.” 

Richard Worrall, NAVA Propertymark president – Network Auctions, added: “The National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) released comprehensive new guidelines with regards to all parts of their Material Information Programme at the end of November 2023. 

“Part A of their guidelines was issued in February 2022. The introduction of Parts B and C are aimed at further enhancing the consumer experience when purchasing property. 

“As auctioneers, we already supply nearly all of the information required of Parts B and C. These are included in the auction legal pack supplied by the sellers’ solicitor to auctioneers prior to auction in order for prospective purchasers to satisfy themselves before bidding on their chosen property. The disclosure of all material information to prospective purchasers is paramount in allowing them to make an informed and confident decision prior to purchasing at auction.” 

 

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5 Comments

  1. Ric

    Agents told not to panic – coz NTSELAT, Propertymark and your local council don’t really care if you do it or not.

    But if you get a case brought against you, then having done it diligently is the only real defence because NTSELAT, Propertymark and your Local council will then all say “ah, naughty we told you to do it and we go to great lengths to seek out those Agents who don’t for the good of the people like this poor soul who would never have viewed the property if had they known”

    So relax coz it (a major complaint) will never happen to you.

    No further comments required. The above sums it up.

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    1. Rob Hailstone

      “The intention behind material information is to deploy the technology of platforms like Rightmove to monitor how agents describe a home, with a lot of work needed for printed brochures and agents’ websites.”

      Report
      1. Ric

        It’s really quite easy though… you just pop it in the description part of your advert, in a nice uniformed fashion meaning it appears everywhere you need it to. Or even put it all on a PDF and attach to your CRM as an Important Information Addendum with a note in your body description saying please click on the brochure for extra important information relating to this property – everything one click away.

        But, easier I think to just blame CRM and portals I suppose.

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  2. richardcopus

    Also has consequences for auctioneers. Too many auctioneers, many of whom are relatively new to the profession,
    are over-embellishing or intentionally leaving out material information in sales particulars to encourage bidders and have been using as their defence the fact that the legal pack states differently. The new material info clarifies the situation. Auctioneers sales particulars are no different to estate agents’ sales particulars. They must be accurate and not misleading.

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  3. AMROBINSON

    Not quite

    https://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/uploads/Material%20information%20QG%20for%20Agents%20v1.0.pdf

    “Material information is not a new requirement that
    our guidance is introducing, it is found in Regulation
    6 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading
    Regulations 2008 (CPRs).
    The CPRs made it a criminal offence for businesses
    (including estate and letting agents) to omit or hide
    “material information” that might change the
    transactional decision of an average consumer.
    Any information provided in a residential property
    listing must be accurate and truthful, not hidden, and
    not misleading.
    The “transactional decision” includes deciding to
    enquire further, to view, or to purchase/rent a
    property. The term “average consumer” refers to
    someone who is reasonably well informed,
    reasonably observant, and circumspect
    .
    What is ‘material information’?
    The fundamental basis of the guidance is that the
    average consumer should be given the information
    they need in order to make an informed decision
    when they buy or let a property.

    Regulation 2, The Consumer Protection from Unfair
    Trading Regulations 2008.
    provides a basic list of what NTSELAT, in
    collaboration with our industry steering group,
    considers to be the minimum list of material
    information required for buyers/renters and we would
    encourage providing as much relevant information as
    possible.”

    It goes on to suggest getting the seller’s Solicitor involved early, before marketing the property.

    The speed and certainty everyone craves is here-and not an algorithm in sight.

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