By Mark Willey

Buying a property is probably one of the most significant transactions that most of us will ever undertake.

Arguably, the most important decision-making happens in the early stages of the process, when looking at a property on one of the well-known online search portals. This provides an initial opportunity to glean comprehensive and useful information and can be a big help in forming the decision as to whether the property is for you – possibly even before viewing it physically.  

Streamlining the process

It’s fair to say though that the overall buying and selling process in this country needs to be streamlined. Everyone involved in the process deserves a consistent and transparent transaction, and one that provides  assurance that the matter will complete as soon as is possible.

Hence National Trading Standards (NTS) is working to improve the information made available to home buyers, with the aim of ensuring that property agents are consistently meeting the requirements of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, not to omit ‘material information’ from property listings.

Three stages of Material information

“Material information” will be added to property listings in three stages:

Stage 1 information includes the common information we are used to seeing, including details about unavoidable costs which currently include the property’s council tax band, sale price and information about tenure.  

“Tenure” is particularly important as the material information will detail whether the property is freehold or leasehold. If the property is leasehold, the buyer will want to know about any additional considerations such as the length of the lease and ongoing costs (ground rent and service charges) which could all affect the decision-making process, as well as the ability to obtain a mortgage.

Future stages 2 & 3 information will include the of existence of renewable energy sources, parking arrangements, broadband availability, rights or restrictions affecting the property and other details that could affect the buyer’s decision based on the location of the property, such as flood risk.

Providing more useful material information at the earliest opportunity, will hopefully lead to better decision-making and more confidence in the process. This is vital for consumers and for the conveyancing industry, as it will help to avoid aborted purchases and should help to speed up transactions.