It continues to surprise me that many agents I speak with are still unaware that the Properties Misdescriptions Act (PMAs), a staple of the estate agency training toolkit for years, was in fact repealed in 2013.
The Properties Misdescriptions Act
It was replaced by reliance on the Consumer Protection Regulations, or to give them their full title, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008), otherwise known as CPRs. This wide-reaching piece of legislation covers everything from buying a fridge to selling your home.
Where the old Act said caveat emptor or buyer beware (in other words, if they don’t ask, you don’t tell!) the CPRs state that you must disclose what an average consumer would want and need to know in order for them to make an informed decision of whether to go ahead with their transactional decision. This disclosure is known as material information.
In many ways, it’s little wonder that the estate agency sector has not obsessed with CPRs. The Regulations are not widely policed or enforced, and unlike anti-money laundering for which the penalties are very serious, this is less so with the CPRs, with most upset customers pursuing the Property Ombudsman route.
Also, there is little in the way of meaningful guidance as to what constitutes material information, since the truth of the matter is, buying a house is such an important and emotive decision, that what will be important for one person, will be immaterial to another.
Focus on opportunity
Instead of looking at property information in terms of liability, the much better view is to focus on the opportunity. At a time when we still have an industry average fall through of nearly 1/3rd of properties, where 2 in 5 of those fall throughs are because a buyer simply decided to pull out, how much less would that be with better information upfront?
What I am talking about is not just ideas like the ‘seller ready’ concept, where sellers fill in the property information forms at an early stage. I am talking about distilling key information about the property from the Land Registry and searches etc into simple readable reports for the buyer. There’s less risk of fall through because there’s less chance of something coming out of woodwork weeks down the line. How many times have transactions fallen through because of something that could have been clarified at a much earlier point in the process, like a mistake over access to a parking space for example?
And when it comes to the legal side of moving we can move quickly because we’ve got more information, more committed parties and less risk of fall through.
What does this all mean for you?
Muve Conveyancing offers a guaranteed time to exchange to provide our agents and their movers with greater surety of service with dedicated account management and regular updates to make sure everyone in the transactions is kept in the loop with progress. For more information on how we could help you, head over here.