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Property agents have a legal duty to comply with laws, guidelines, and regulations that are in place to ensure that they act fairly when marketing homes to buyers. One of these applicable laws is the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which encompasses the regulations surrounding the descriptions that estate agents can use when selling property.

In order to help clarify which information should be disclosed to buyers when advertising and marketing homes, the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) (which is funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) introduced material information that now must be included in all property listings as of May 2022. This material is Part A of a three-phase process to promote clarity and transparency within the industry.

Part A details that estate agents must disclose the following details:

  • The property’s price
  • The council tax band
  • The tenure information of the property (i.e., leasehold, freehold, or common hold)
  • The percentage of shares available for shared ownership properties and the rent amount for the unsold shares

As an agent, you can no longer market properties with “Price on Application”, and “Offers Invited” on property portals. The NTSELAT is working on two more phases, Part B and C, to add more material information such as flood risks, restrictive covenants, and other specific factors that might affect some properties. Parts B and C are expected to be published later this year.

In addition to listing material information when marketing properties, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 outlines that property agents and websites that introduce buyers to sellers must act fairly towards all potential buyers. Here are some of the ways in which estate agents are expected to act.

1.    Producing an accurate description of the home

As an estate agent, you have a duty to give an accurate description of the homes you are marketing, so as to not deceive or misrepresent the buyer. As such, it’s important to get all the information you need from the seller. This applies to written and verbal descriptions and even photos used in marketing a property. You must not give misleading or exaggerated descriptions of the size, location, condition, or any other feature of a property. Also, you must not take photos of the home from angles that will hide defects in and around the house.

2.    Being upfront about the property

The National Trading Standards found that 88% of people believe that leasehold details should be disclosed, and 9 in 10 people said that a basic list of information about a property would improve clarity in the industry. It’s important to be upfront about all the necessary information about the home that a buyer should be aware of. Estate agents have a responsibility to share any information that could influence a buyer’s decision to purchase or live in a house. For example, you should let buyers know about upcoming construction in the neighbourhood, nearby schools, or traffic issues.

For leasehold properties, agents must disclose information about the following upfront:

  • Ground rent
  • Length of rent remaining on the lease
  • Service charges
  • Any extra charges that might apply for things like leasehold information packs

3.    Passing all offers on to the buyer and not showing bias

Property agents must inform a seller of all offers in a timely manner unless the seller requests not to be informed of certain offers. In addition, property agents must treat all buyers the same way, without discrimination.

BHW Conveyancing is the leading residential property law firm in Leicestershire and is ranked in the top ten real estate firms in the East Midlands by the Legal 500 guide. We pride ourselves on giving our clients a seamless and efficient end-to-end conveyancing service and adhere to high-quality industry standards. We work with many estate agents and financial advisors as their preferred conveyancing partner. Due to our proactive approach to progressing our clients’ property transactions, we are constantly being referred time and time again.

Whether you are a property professional, seller, or buyer, we can help with your residential conveyancing queries. To request a personal conveyancing quotation, or to discuss setting up a professional referral relationship with your business, please call us on +44 (0)116 289 7000 or send us an email at conveyancing@bhwsolicitors.com.