More than 80% of UK estate agents surveyed think that the provision of up-front information at the very start of the homebuying process will improve the buying and selling experience, and yet just 30% have already made efforts to provide such information for the homes they list, new research shows.
Since June 2022, Part A of Trading Standards reform has stated that estate agents should provide material information such as price, leasehold terms, and council tax information for their property listings.
In November of last year, Trading Standards published Parts B and C of their material information guidance which state agents should also include in their marketing materials insights such as the building materials used, information about utilities and parking, and any details around issues such as flood risk or restrictive covenants.
This guidance is designed to provide prospective buyers with the information they require to make an informed purchase decision at the start of their journey rather than having to go out and find it for themselves later down the road, thus speeding up the buying and selling process.
To gain proper insight into agent sentiment regarding the provision of up-front information, Home Sale Pack surveyed more than 500 UK agents with the results showing overwhelming industry support for the proposition.
The survey shows that 73% of agents think the new Trading Standards guidance (B and C) is a good idea and a positive move for the agency sector.
Furthermore, 83% believe more broadly that supplying up-front information to homebuyers at the very start of the transaction journey will improve the buying and selling process.
As for the specific benefits, 79% of agents believe up-front information will speed up the buying and selling process, while 83% say it will reduce the number of transactions that fall-through.
When asked what parts of the buying-selling process are worst impacted by the current lack of up-front information, nearly half of agents – 48% – said the conveyancing stage during which the absence of up-front information results in significant delays.
Almost a quarter of agents – 23% – responded to say that it’s the negotiation and offer stage of the journey that is most negatively impacted by a lack of information provision.
Despite this clear support for up-front information packs, agents accept that there are obstacles which need to be overcome if it is to become a mainstay of the industry.
Some 33% say that the biggest barrier is how time consuming it currently is to gather all of the necessary information, while 27% say the fact that up-front information is not a legal requirement is hampering universal adoption.
Of those that took part in the study, 16% blame a lack of proactivity from buyers and sellers; 12% say they do not have the manpower required to gather the information; and another 12% say the biggest barrier is the fact that the necessary information is stored in too many disparate locations.
As such, there is widespread belief among agents that legislation should be introduced to make the provision of up-front information a legal requirement, something that is supported by 66% of respondents.
Meanwhile, a quarter – 25% – believe that information provision can be best improved and, therefore, more widely adopted with the help of a third-party technology provider making it fast and easy to collate the required information.
While it is clear that the vast majority of agents support all moves towards including comprehensive information in their marketing materials, actual industry uptake remains lacklustre.
When asked if they or their business has already made operational changes in line with the new Trading Standards guidance in order to better obtain and provide upfront information for the homes they list, just 32% said ‘yes’, while 68% said ‘no’.
Ruth Beeton, co-founder of Home Sale Pack, said: “Some things in life and business are just common sense, and the widespread support for up-front information packs shows that this is one of those things. It helps buyers, sellers, agents, and conveyancers in one fell swoop.
“Despite the lack of meaningful industry backlash against either the recent evolution of Trading Standards guidance or the broader subject of improved and more timely information provision, we’re yet to see sufficient uptake to allow for meaningful change.
“While some form of legislation might indeed strongarm agents into adopting the practice, we don’t believe the industry has time to wait for the sluggish government machine to catch up. Therefore, we hope that platforms like Home Sale Pack will make the process of collecting and presenting material information so easy that it will provide the impetus required to drive widespread industry change, improving the state of the UK housing market forever and for good.”