New Trading Standards Guidance on Property Listings – and What it Means for You

National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team

In November 2023 new guidance was published by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT), with the aim of clarifying and improving the material information that estate agents must provide when marketing a property.

In developing the guidance, NTSELAT worked closely with the property industry as well as major property websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla, to ensure the guidance delivers the clarity and detail needed by everyone involved in the sales or letting process.

What is Material Information?

It may not be something you’ve heard of before, but it’s certainly something you need. Material information is defined in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs) as – ‘information which the average consumer needs, according to the context, to take an informed transactional decision’.

Put simply, it means that material information is anything that may impact your decision to view, make an offer on or buy a property. It can be positive or negative – for example, having a right of way over the land may be acceptable for one person, but not for another – but making it known from the start ensures potential buyers can make a well-informed decision about their true interest in the property. 

Why is it important?

Everyone concerned in the sale of a property wants to avoid a failed transaction late in the day, particularly when significant costs can have been incurred and plans have been made on all sides. 

By ensuring material information is available from the start it reduces this risk, ensuring that those with a genuine interest, who know everything about the property, proceed through the sales process. The aim is to make the whole process smoother, minimising delays and fall-throughs while reducing the potential for wasted time and money.

What does the guidance mean for agents?

The new guidance means that every estate agent must now present a specified range of information about all of the properties they list. This information ranges from building safety and flood risk to planning permission for the property itself and its immediate locality.  You can see the full list of material information that must be provided in this table – 

Material Information Table

Failure by an agent to provide all of these details will mean a breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008), which can then result in a ban from trading as an estate agent and even a custodial sentence.

What does the guidance mean for you?

For Buyers – Before you even arrange a viewing you will now have all of the property’s material information at your fingertips, enabling you to make an informed decision about the property you’d like to purchase before starting to incur costs. The key aim is to help ensure that sales proceed through to completion and do not fall through because of previously unknown information coming to light. Having all of the information from the very start should save you both time and money, and lead to an easier, less stressful buying process. 

For Sellers – There’s nothing more frustrating for a seller than a buyer dropping out late in the transaction process because of a piece of new information. With this guidance, sellers are advised to appoint a conveyancer at the start of the sales process, ensuring that all of the material information is available and validated. This will ensure that potential queries, such as restrictive covenants, are known about and dealt with from the start. Sellers can then be confident that a buyer has genuine interest and is aware of all aspects of their property’s situation, minimising the risk of a sale falling through.

All of the material information will be clearly presented in the marketing literature created by the estate agent and will also be listed on the major property websites, meaning that buyers have a more complete picture of the property from the start.

The Cardigan Bay Difference

We have built our reputation on being open, transparent and honest, and while all of our properties have always shown the information now required, the new guidance is a hugely positive addition to the industry. It ensures that everyone has greater clarity, which should in turn prevent wasted time, money and heartbreak in sales transactions that fall through.

We don’t hide anything, and our buyers are used to seeing these details and our sellers are used to providing us with them. But we’re always looking for ways to improve, so we’ve now simplified how we present the material information, making it clearer to read on all of our property listings.

You can read more about the new guidance here.