What is material information in property listings?

Material information in property listing includes all crucial details that could influence a potential buyer’s or renter’s decision. This encompasses a wide range of information, such as the property’s price, location, size, layout, and any legal or physical attributes that might affect its value or desirability. It also covers information on tenure (leasehold or freehold), council tax bands, utility availability, and any other significant factors related to the property’s condition or legal status.

This section includes:

What is material information?

Material information, as defined by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs), is crucial data that the average consumer requires to make an informed decision about a transaction. This encompasses any details that could influence a buyer’s choices, such as deciding to view a property, making an offer, or engaging with any part of the buying process. It’s important to note that this information is essential for making a well-informed decision, not just what a consumer may want to know due to personal preferences.

Whether positive or negative, including material information in property listings is vital. Doing so helps avoid the risk of transactions falling through later. By disclosing all necessary details, sellers ensure that the interest from potential buyers is based on accurate and complete information. This transparency is a matter of ethical practice and a legal requirement under the CPRs. Listing all material information can streamline the transaction process significantly, removing unnecessary delays.

The Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 tackled false or misleading property ads before 2008 but overlooked listing omissions. In October 2013, its repeal made room for the CPRs. These regulations now penalise omitting, hiding, or unclearly presenting vital property information. Unlike the previous act, the CPRs do not provide a fixed checklist of material information, acknowledging that the necessity of information can vary in each buyer-seller interaction.

Back to Top

What are your responsibilities regarding material information?

As estate agents, your duties regarding material information are paramount to ensuring transparency and compliance with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs). You must actively seek out and verify material information for property listings. This involves checking the accuracy of provided details, such as verifying ownership through title information or utilising local knowledge for additional insights.

Material information must be presented prominently and clearly

Property listings must present material information prominently and clearly. Obscuring, misrepresenting, or delaying its provision could lead to a misleading omission liability, a criminal offence under the CPRs. Agents must promptly update listings and communicate with interested parties when material information changes or becomes available. This applies to updates on property portals, their own websites, and any property particulars.

Utilising Property Information Questionnaires

We recommend using Property Information Questionnaires (PIQs), such as the Law Society’s TA6 form, the Home Buying and Selling Group BASPI, or the Propertymark PIQ, to collect the necessary details for property listings. If you opt for custom questionnaires, make sure they are crafted to gather all relevant material information prior to listing.

Furthermore, consider the information shared with potential buyers throughout all transaction stages and in all communication forms, including virtual viewings, telephone conversations, in-person meetings, written communications, and property viewings. Maintaining accurate records of all consumer interactions is advised to ensure compliance with the CPRs, which apply to any property marketed by a UK-based business.

Involvement of a Conveyancer or Surveyor

For Parts B and C material information, where necessary, the involvement of a conveyancer or surveyor might be required. The client can arrange this directly or through additional services the agent provides. When offering such services, it’s important to ensure that all associated fees are clearly outlined, communicated upfront, and displayed on advertising materials. This approach guarantees that clients are fully informed, enabling them to make educated decisions throughout the property transaction process.

Back to Top

Which property listings need material information?

Every residential property listing must feature material information, regardless of the medium. This requirement extends to listings on property portals, websites managed by property agents, third-party websites, and printed materials. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs) acknowledge the constraints of different media, such as the limited space available in a printed advert compared to online listings. Agents face the challenge of prioritising and clearly presenting essential information, even with these limitations. When space is restricted, they must indicate where or how to access the complete material information.

Working together with leading UK property portals, we have developed guidelines to ensure the effective capture and display of material information on various platforms. We encourage agents to adopt these practices for their websites and printed materials. All Part A information, including price, tenure, and council tax or rates, is deemed essential for every listing.

The guidance for Part B and C information, which encompasses additional relevant details, recommends prominent display as well. While it does not specify the precise method of presentation, the goal is to ensure this information is accessible within no more than a single click in online settings.

Back to Top

Should Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) be included on a Property Listing?

material information for a property listing - EPC

Property listings must feature Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) unless the property qualifies for an exemption. While current legislation may allow a grace period to obtain an EPC if one does not already exist (as in England and Wales), it has not yet designated the EPC rating as specific material information. However, agents must adhere to the defined timeframes for securing an EPC where necessary. Upon acquisition, agents should promptly update the property listing to include the EPC rating.

For ease of access and compliance, the online EPC register is available for properties in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and a separate register is available for Scotland. These resources ensure that agents can easily obtain and display EPC ratings, maintaining transparency and providing essential information to prospective buyers.

Back to Top

Obtaining and Verifying Information Process

We advise property agents to take proactive measures to confirm the identity of their clients and ensure they hold the rightful authority to sell the property in question. This verification process can include comparing clients’ identification documents against property titles or deeds or examining relevant lease agreements or contracts. The objective is to establish a solid foundation of trust and legality from the outset of the property transaction process.

Throughout this guidance, we’ve highlighted various sources from which property agents and owners or sellers can obtain and verify the necessary information for inclusion in a property advertisement. These sources include, but are not limited to:

  1. – Direct inquiries to the seller or owner, cross-referencing the provided information with available external sources.
  2. – HM Land Registry for title documents and boundary plans.
  3. – Local Authorities, via Local Authority searches, to understand pertinent local details.
  4. – The Local Authority Planning Team or portal for planning permissions and regulations.
  5. – Water and Drainage Authorities, accessed through Water and Drainage searches, for utilities information.
  6. – The Coal Authority for mining-related data.
  7. – The Environment Agency for environmental risk assessments related to the property.

Property agents have the option to outsource the collection and verification of material information to third-party suppliers when relevant and necessary. However, it’s vital to clearly communicate any additional costs for these services to the client, ensuring transparency, fairness, and the absence of hidden fees.

Alternatively, sellers may gather the necessary documentation, such as a copy of the title or lease, and provide it to the agent at the start of the process or upon entering into a contract. It remains imperative for agents to verify these documents to meet due diligence requirements, ensuring all information is accurate and reliable for the property listing.

Back to Top

Click to order Material Information Pack

Enter Your Email to Download

Material Information Pack

Essential Guidance for Estate Agents & Sellers