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‘Why did my 1980s Fiesta come with more upfront information than a house today?’

Mio's Product Director Jon Horton asks agents who are sceptical of 'upfront information' in property sales to consider the speed and fall-through benefits it can bring.

Jon Horton, Product Director, Mio

mio upfront information

I remember my dad helping me buy my first car and sharing his pearls of wisdom on what to look for and where to tap for signs of rust.

I was more interested in the Fiesta Supersport’s leather sports steering wheel, flared arches and alloy wheels, whereas his first area of attention was looking through the paperwork.

So fast forward and the latest initiatives to help improve the home buying and selling process centre around more upfront information – not dissimilar to my car purchase but which has since matured to digital information.

When I bought my car, there was more information available during the viewing than when I purchased my first house and yet the value and financial importance of the two cannot be compared.

So why can’t upfront information help the homebuying and selling process?

I, along with many other people across the industry, believe it can and it’s not hard to see why.

Yes, there will always be the naysayers. But we can’t keep moaning about a broken, archaic process that takes far too long and at great cost, to then reject positive steps to improve things for everyone involved.

If you’re nervous or perhaps sceptical about the future, try not to be, because change is gathering momentum and the upfront information agenda has not been rushed and isn’t going away; tmgroup and mio have been part of different working groups within the Home Buying and Selling Group (HBSG) for several years now and progress has been well thought through with lots of consultation.

Cheque mate

It’s not dissimilar when I look back 20 years; there was an initial reluctance from conveyancers to move away from cheque requisitions to online searches and now it’s become the norm because of the associated benefits that it delivers to the home moving process.

HBSG has recently published version 3 of its BASPI form (Buyers and Sellers Property Information Form) which is split in to 2 parts. Part A getting “Market Ready” and Part B getting “Sale Ready”.

Looking at the form, why wouldn’t a prospective buyer want to know this information? An informed buyer, making informed choices with fewer chances of any hidden surprises that could derail the purchase later, will inevitably lead to fewer fall throughs.

Whether it will speed up overall transaction times is harder to answer, but Simon Wilkinson from Wilkinson Partnership has been road testing the BASPI for some time now and has witnessed the benefits first-hand.

1,000 properties

“We have been providing upfront information over the last 3 years, for well over 1,000 properties. Without question it has added transparency, flagged up any issues very early on and then had them resolved. Thus, it has speeded up sales and made the firm and my staff more professional.”

This resonates with the findings from mio’s Home Movers Survey 2021 where 68% said that “trust in the agents’ ability to manage their sale” was ranked highest when choosing an agent.

Simon’s first-hand experience is refreshing to hear because speaking to numerous agents, both large and small, pipeline turnover is a real concern right now.

Traditionally agents I’ve spoken with have turned their pipeline between four to five times annually, but current market conditions, with fewer properties coming to market impeded by slow transaction times, means those same agents are now predicting turnover closer to two or three, which has a big financial impact.

So “market ready” could and should be seen as a positive step to building consumer confidence and taking more control of the pipeline at an earlier stage, to help drive sales through to completion, whilst also building bridges and improving relationships with conveyancers.

Read more about upfront information.

May 17, 2022

2 comments

  1. From our blog: Why upfront information is so important for a buyer?

    A ‘Buyer Information Pack’

    The more informed a buyer is – the fewer barriers there are for them to make an offer to buy. Why should a buyer have to pay a solicitor to get this information after a sale is agreed, surely it should be ready upfront?

    Cooper Adams – always striving to speed up and smooth out the property buying and selling process.

    We’ve looked at the current system and want to improve it. Our goal is to reduce the time it takes and provide more information upfront to a potential buyer meaning fewer sales falling through.

    Normally after a sale is agreed, it’s panic stations – a seller and buyer are asked to source a solicitor and instruct them. A seller would get quotes then formally instruct the solicitor by letter, they would then do ID checks before anything else. After these are done the solicitor would then send protocol forms (TA6) Property information form, Leasehold information form (TA7 if applicable) and Fixtures and fittings form (TA10). The seller would get these filled in and in the meantime, the solicitor would obtain the Title deeds and plan (electronically). Once all this is back the seller’s solicitor can then create a draft sales contract to send to the buyer’s solicitor. This sometimes holds up a sale and can add weeks, while this is all being done.

    Cooper Adams are the only local agent to get as much of this done before launching a property to market. While we are dealing with photos, videos, brochures, EPCs and everything else, we help the seller get the legal paperwork done and the solicitor ready.

    The Government and National Trading Standards require that more material information needs to be provided to potential buyers upfront. Cooper Adams has always been one step ahead and has always provided as much information as possible, far outweighing any requirements.

    Ideally, when we launch a property we want all this to be ready. The information has to be done at some point so why not have it ready at the start. This only needs to be done once and we share all this with the seller’s solicitor.

    Getting all this done at the start will reduce most delays that could happen.

    Most of this will form the majority of a Contract Pack that a seller’s solicitor sends to the buyer’s solicitor right at the start. The longer this takes to organise and send out, the longer a sale takes.

    Some of this we make publicly available, the rest is sent to an interested viewer.

    Our Buyer Information Pack is packed with information on the property eg:

    Property Brochure (including photos, property description, square footage, £ per sq foot, whole plot size, local authority, council tax band and cost, tenure, estate fees, if lease the length, ground rent, maintenance fees and what’s included) – supplied by Cooper Adams
    Floor plan – supplied by Cooper Adams
    Location map – supplied by Cooper Adams
    Walk around video – supplied by Cooper Adams
    Title Deeds – Office copy entries – Register – Title deeds are the legal documents that record the ownership of a property and any accompanying land with plans. – supplied by Cooper Adams and their partners ‘Gazeal’
    Title Plans – Office Copy Entries
    Our general FAQ sheet about the property including things like rental value, rental yield, year built, distance to shops and park, meters, services, boiler, loft etc – supplied by Cooper Adams
    EPC – The energy performance certificate
    A report on -[Local sold prices, Title plan, Local mobile & broadband speeds, Planning history, Plot size & floor area, Pounds per square foot, Flood risk, Conservation areas, Local school reports, Leasehold info, Council tax, Energy Performance Certificate, Transport links and Transaction history.] – supplied by Cooper Adams and their partners ‘Sprift’.
    Any Private estate fees and information ie. most recent invoices and share certificates.
    The legal TA6 – Sellers Property Information form – Current Law Society edition – 16 pages of legally binding information on the property. – collated by Cooper Adams and their partners ‘Gazeal’
    The legal TA7 Leasehold Information form – Current Law Society edition – 10 sections of legally binding information on the lease with all costs, if applicable. We also suggest copies of the following, if applicable, (a) recent correspondence and invoices from the managing agents. (b) Share certificate in the management company. (c) Any consents from the Freeholder to matters such as the installation of double glazing which may well be required under the terms of the Lease. – collated by Cooper Adams and their partners ‘Gazeal’
    The legal TA10 – Fixtures and contents form – Current Law Society edition – A full list of what is included in the sale.- collated by Cooper Adams and their partners ‘Gazeal’
    We have a SUPPLEMENTAL ENQUIRIES QUESTIONNAIRE – this form answers most of the questions that come up during enquiries including parts on Conservatories and drainage.
    We also look to include lots of other information that will crop up such as:
    FENSA window certificates for windows installed after 1 April 2002;
    Wall or loft Insulation paperwork;
    Gas safe certificates;
    Electrical work certificates;
    Any building insurance claims and information;
    Shared driveway or private road contributions;
    Warranties, guarantees or receipts for any fixtures fittings or works done on the property, including kitchens and bathrooms;
    Details on any extra land included;
    Details on works done if a Listed building;
    Boiler or heating documents or servicing records;
    Solar panel / battery documents with proof of ownership and feed-in tariffs;
    Info on extensions and conservatories with planning and building regulation info or council documents to say not needed, and as much info as possible;
    Conservatory information – we have a form in our SUPPLEMENTAL ENQUIRIES QUESTIONNAIRE
    Non-mains drainage and Septic tank documents including servicing;
    NHBC or new build paperwork if under 10 years old;
    Burglar alarm documents and service history
    If Leasehold: (a) Any recent correspondence and invoices from the managing agents. (b) Share certificate in the management company. (c) Any consents from the Freeholder to matters such as the installation of double glazing which may well be required under the terms of the Lease.
    Swimming pool and heating apparatus service history
    We are also looking at other enquiries that are raised by a buyer’s solicitor and add these documents to our lists.

    Cooper Adams will help our sellers with each item on the list and any form filling. Providing our experienced advice at all times.

    This process speeds up transaction times by multiple weeks.

    Some of this information is publicly available on our website on each property, some of it we can email a potential buyer as it could be more private information. Security is paramount for us.

    This also saves the seller’s solicitor time as we have organised all the data for them.

    There is no charge for Cooper Adams to organise this pack and securely store it electronically.

    The pack is also available by invitation to potential buyers before they offer. An educated buyer is more secure knowing all the ins and outs of a property before any offer is accepted.

    The UK government recommend the use of these packs, and especially as we all know that a legally-prepared property will result in a quicker transaction, with fewer fall-throughs, and that has to be a good thing for everyone.

    On the Government Guide [How to Sell Guide – A guide for people looking to sell a home in England and Wales] Page 4 it says “Before you market your home – getting ‘sale ready’ – Before you begin to think about putting your property on the market, you should spend some time getting your paperwork together and making your home ‘sale ready’” it then goes on to say “If you gather together the relevant documents at this stage, you can avoid future delays and provide your estate agent with key information to share with prospective buyers from the outset.” – this is exactly what Cooper Adams do, follow to the tee the Government advice – we think it’s strange other agents do not adopt this common-sense principle. We feel, soon, this ‘advice’ will probably become law.

    We still recommend a seller to instruct their solicitor early to open up the file. The solicitor won’t need to obtain Title TA6, TA7, or TA10 as we can email them the link which will also contain other documents relating to the property. This pack is available to the seller, their solicitor, the buyer and their solicitor.

    Another unique service we offer to secure sales is our Reservation Agreements to lock in a seller and buyer to the transaction.

    If you have any questions about our Buyer Information Packs please contact the team on 01903 791 727.

    https://cooper-adams.com/blog/upfront-property-information/30393

  2. Jon, totally agree it is coming. Some of the comments I still hear is “Seeing the information “Up Front” might put the buyer off” or “We hope the buyers might miss that”.
    The figures from the auction industry seem to prove otherwise. EIG have hosted over 275,000 lots and over 33,000,000 documents down loaded in the last 12 years, and that is for less than 2% of the market place.
    Surely we need to move forward as an industry and not be held back by the small amount of properties that need to try and hide something in their title/conveyance.

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