Estate agents are to be compelled to list more ‘material information’ about sales and lettings properties within their portal listings, the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) has revealed.
This is the first phase of a campaign to give home buyers and renters more information up-front about a property before committing further to a transaction and will include mandatory council tax band/rate, price/rent and tenure information for sales properties.
The first phase is due to implemented from now until the end of May 2022 and subsequent rules may be backed up with stronger measures after the initiative was mentioned in Michael Gove’s recent levelling-up White Paper, although any legislative underpinning of these rules is far from guaranteed, NTSELAT says.
“These technical changes will prompt all players in the property market to do things a bit differently,” says NTSELAT Senior Manager James Munro (pictured).
“Vendors and agents may find that bringing conveyancers on board at the outset helps ensure all information is available for marketing, and issues with things like restrictive covenants or boundaries can be addressed earlier.
“For consumers, a better understanding of why certain information such as a property’s tenure is important will enable them to make informed decisions when they embark on a property search.”
The new portal data fields have been in gestation for several years now and were first proposed publicly by NTSELAT as far back as 2019. Since then NTSELAT has been working with portals Rightmove, Zoopla, PropertyPal and OTM and industry association and redress schemes Propertymark, TLIC, TPO, the PRS, RICS and UKALA to get them agreed via a steering group.
A further two phases are being developed which will incorporate further material information such as restrictive covenants, flood risk and other specific factors that may impact certain properties.
As new data fields for tenure, price and council tax are added to portals, if they are left empty by an agent, this will be flagged on the listing so consumers can see what information is missing. This will link to advice on why that information is important and how it may be obtained.
National Trading Standards wants all material information to be mandatory on property listings once all three phases of the project are complete. At that stage, agents will need to include all the required information before it is listed on a property portal.
Following a recent survey of 300 agents, NTSELAT says it has the support of 91% of estate agents support for the new rules which it says will reduce tyre kickers, speed up sales and reduce fall-throughs.
“This project will make it easier for estate and letting agents to meet their legal obligations and we look forward to supporting them as they get to grips with a new way of working,” says Munro.
Levelling Up Minister Neil O’Brien MP (pictured) says: “A key part of levelling up is creating a fair and just housing system that works for everyone, and this includes supporting more first-time buyers to move onto the housing ladder.
“Far too often when buying and selling properties, deals fall through, costing young people thousands of pounds in wasted expense. By providing all the necessary information up front, this can be avoided, and it will make the process of buying a first home much easier and more cost-effective.”