When it comes to searching for a home, the devil is in the details. Here’s everything you need to know about the new material information rules when you’re buying, renting or selling a home.

If you’re searching for a home, you might’ve noticed that property listings are more detailed than ever before.

It’s no coincidence. In fact, it’s part of an industry-wide process to improve property listings and give you all the important information from the get-go.

The aim is to create a more transparent and less stressful process for everyone involved in buying, selling or renting. It’s all about helping you make informed decisions about a property.

And ultimately, it should help your sale, purchase or rental go through more smoothly, as the facts are clear and everyone knows what they’re getting into from the start.

What is ‘material information’ for a property listing?

The term ‘material information’ covers the nitty-gritty details about a property that might impact your choices around it.

National Trading Standards (NTS) defines it as “information which the average consumer needs, according to the context, to take an informed transactional decision”.

So think of it as the fine print that you really *need* to read about a property, once you’ve stopped admiring the photos or searching for the nearest pub.

It doesn’t cover information like local school ratings or proximity to a train station, as these are seen as preferences rather than essentials.

What information should you see on a property listing?

Since May 2022, estate agents need to include all unavoidable costs associated with a property when they list it for sale or to rent.

This video from NTS explains what’s changed with the material information rules and how they’re benefitting buyers, sellers and renters.

You should see the following information on all listings for properties for sale:

  • Sale price

  • Council tax band (or domestic rate in Northern Ireland)

  • Tenure (freehold, leasehold, share of leasehold, commonhold, feudal)

  • For leasehold properties: length of lease, annual ground rent, ground rent review period, annual service charge amount and service charge review period

  • For Shared Ownership properties: the percentage share being sold plus the  rent you’ll pay on the other proportion

And for rental properties, listings should include:

  • Rental rate

  • Deposit amount

  • Length of tenancy (year/month)

  • Council tax band (England, Wales and Scotland)

If you’re wondering about energy efficiency, you’re a step ahead. EPC ratings must be included on property listings under existing laws.

What if a listing is missing this information?

It’s the responsibility of estate agents to submit accurate material information on all their properties.

If they’ve missed something, NTS might get in touch with them to ask them to update or remove it.

If a property you’re interested in is missing some of the details, it’s best to contact the estate agent to ask them for more information.

There are no plans yet to remove property listings that don’t comply, but that might change in the future.

What does it mean if you’re selling your home?

The material information changes mean you’re required to provide certain details about your home and you might be liable if you misrepresent anything.

But it’s nothing to worry about.

Your estate agent will ask you for all the details they need and they’ll be responsible for adding it to the listing.

In fact, giving these details upfront will help encourage genuine enquiries. Potential buyers or tenants will be interested based on accurate information they’ve seen on the listing.

It can also help prevent a sale or rental agreement falling through at a later stage.

What material information will be shown on listings in the future?

When we reach the next steps of the process, you can also expect to see a property’s:

  • Renewable or alternative energy sources

  • Broadband options

  • Parking details

  • Locational information like flood risk

  • Rights and restrictions affecting the property

…and maybe more. The NTS is working on exactly which information will be required in Parts B and C of the process and we’ll update you as soon as they’re good to go – or watch this space for the latest updates.

Key takeaways

  • The term ‘material information’ covers the nitty-gritty details about a property that might impact your choices around it
  • Estate agents now need to include all unavoidable costs associated with a property when they list it for sale or to rent
  • There are plans for property listings to become even more detailed in the future.