New Guidance On Property Sales: National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team
The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT) have launched an updated version of their Guidance On Property Sales, aimed, they say, at greatly improving estate agency service to customers. Although, having read through it, I can't help but mention that it feels like a throwback to the old HIPS system!
The new document replaces the Office of Fair Trading's Guidance on Property Sales which was issued in September 2012. In its role as the UK's lead enforcement authority for the Estate Agents Act 1979, it has been produced by the NTSEAT of Powys County Council.
The document itself is long at almost 50 pages but does offer an interesting read. Of special note are the clauses regarding 'material information' which should be expressed by the agent to a potential buyer, seemingly even before they have viewed the property. Previously, a number of these would not have shown up until the customer had paid for a survey. For example, quoting from the document:
In the most straight forward property sales, the material information that you should give to consumers may be quite basic (the asking price, location, number and size of rooms, and whether the property is freehold or leasehold). However, depending on the circumstances of each sale, material facts could include the length of the lease, the level of charges payable under a lease, known ambiguities concerning title, significant issues or occurrences at the property, major structural defects, status of connection to mains services/utilities; as well as things which could have an impact on the property such as potential developments, planning issues, highways issues, conservation areas, etc. This information should be provided as early in the marketing process as possible and not left until a potential buyer expresses an interest in a property.
For example, if you become aware that Japanese Knotweed is growing in the garden of a property you are marketing, perhaps because a buyer pulls out of a sale and tells you, then you cannot ignore the problem. The appropriate action may be to talk to the seller and advise that an expert is brought in who can confirm whether there is a problem. The presence of Japanese Knotweed is an example of the type of material information that you would be expected to disclose to prospective buyers once you knew of it.
James Munro, team leader for the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team says "If you treat your consumers, business customers and competitors fairly, then you are unlikely to breach the regulations. However, if you treat them unfairly, you may face criminal and/or civil enforcement action".
Estate agents need to read the document carefully and make sure their employees are well trained in the new guidelines, if they don't want to fall foul of Trading Standards.PCHomes Estate Agent Software, offers easy ways to record important information about your properties, store relevent documents associated to them and hold reports pertaining to any issues they may have.
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Written by Deb Roberts
Source Estates IT Ltd