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Last November, National Trading Standards unveiled parts B and C of the material information guidelines for property listings, offering detailed advice for sales and letting agents.

This initiative, spearheaded by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) in collaboration with industry experts and leading property portals like OnTheMarket, aims to provide clear definitions of material information in response to agents' requests for more precise guidelines.

In a previous blog, we’ve covered Material Information Parts A, B and C, but here is a brief overview and a summary of the recent updates

What is Material Information?

Material information, as specified in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, is described as the information necessary for the average consumer to make an educated decision about a transaction based on the given context.

In essence, this encompasses any data that might influence a consumer's choices regarding a property, including scheduling a viewing, offering to rent, or moving forward with any transaction phase.

Material information therefore plays a vital role in enabling consumers to make better informed choices during property transactions. It is segmented into three categories, A, B, and C, and each covers a different aspect of what is considered material information.

Part A of the material information guidance encompasses things deemed crucial under all circumstances, irrespective of the outcome. This information is vital for consumers to decide whether to further explore a property.

The addition of Part B outlined essential information for all properties, including property type, construction materials, room count, and details on utilities and parking.

When it was introduced, Part C addressed specific concerns like flood risks or restrictive covenants that are relevant only if they affect the property in question. Parts B and C complement Part A, which was established in 2022, adding more depth to what are essentially instantly recognisable details like price, council tax band, and tenure.

While the material information guidance has now set out a clear direction for what should be disclosed, figuring out how to collect, store and distribute that information in a digital-first way will be the thing that puts the process “on rails”, and that’s where the experts at the Open Property Data Association come in.

How is OPDA helping to digitise the property industry?

Since the launch of parts B and C, the Open Property Data Association (OPDA) has been working with its developer community to map the additional requirements set out by NTSELAT to the existing open property data standards, officially launching the updated version this month.

This new, fully comprehensive framework has been designed to make property transactions smoother and more efficient by providing a set of data and governance principles surrounding material information. This includes setting standards for things like a common data dictionary and a consistent, clear method for describing property attributes.

OPDA’s ultimate goal is to facilitate the sharing of the data we’ve covered above – but not just data for the sake of it. Along with their working group, comprised of property and technology leaders from across the industry, they are actively building the principles that will underpin the need for trusted data. Ensuring the provenance of the information within the framework will be the defining model for the property industry.

Available to the entire industry without restrictive licenses, the framework encourages the adoption of open data standards and is fully compliant with National Trading Standards’ material information guidance.

Industry leaders in their droves have endorsed the framework for its potential to ease and speed up property buying, highlighting its importance for the role it can play in digital transitions and secure data reuse. As such, many of the forward-thinking organisations in the property industry are rallying around OPDA with support and adopting the framework.

Siȃn Hemming Metcalfe, operations director at Inventory Base, said: “I’m genuinely excited to witness the overwhelming support from industry leaders for the framework. It’s a clear signal of the game-changing potential that open data brings to the table, changing how we manage property transactions, fueling digital transformation, and ensuring robust data security.

“With the visionary organisations, groups and forward-thinking leaders flocking to OPDA and embracing the framework, we’re literally on the cusp of reshaping the industry in ways we’ve only dreamed of.”

How does this impact agents?

Now with the Consumer Protection Regulations mandating agents to include all material information in listings, this new guidance has been a welcome development, recognised throughout the industry as a route towards ensuring transparency.

OPDA is taking it one step further with its work, and it is encouraging estate agents up and down the country, as well as businesses and individuals creating “seller-facing software and property packs”, to adopt its open data standards, with a view that this approach will digitalise crucial data needed throughout the transaction process.

The association has called for sellers to engage a conveyancer at the listing stage or earlier, hoping to make sure that any and all “relevant information” is represented accurately. This can help to overcome many of the hold-ups associated with fallthroughs, such as lease restrictions or property boundaries. By establishing these facts earlier on, there will be fewer surprises as the transaction moves forward.

This approach also helps to enhance the overall experience for buyers and lenders, too, with the hopes that fall-throughs and delays will be mitigated as much as possible. Figures by Quickmove revealed that in quarter one last year, 55.8% of property sales in England and Wales collapsed before completion.

OPDA said: “We’ve seen some significant milestones achieved over the last few months, reinforcing our calls for digitisation of home buying and the provision of open data standards, and setting out the roadmap for how these will be delivered across government and industry.”

In addition to the National Trading Standards material information being added to OPDA’s framework, there have also been significant developments with the Data Bill legislation for public and private open data, advancements on the Reusable Digital Identity for home buying transactions, and an announcement that £3m will be set aside in the Autumn Statement to fund open data and data standards.

OPDA continued: “The changes to improve our homebuying and mortgage process are not only happening and being implemented by our members, they’re now underpinned by legislation, regulation, and government funding.”

Drive industry standards forward with Inventory Base & OPDA

At Inventory Base, we’ve been champions of open property data from day one, and we’ve been working closely with the Open Property Data Association to ensure that we can embed the fully realised version of the framework

As a software provider, we’re dedicated to incorporating the Property Data Trust Framework (PDTF) into our operations and bolstering the efforts of the Open Property Data Association by working towards achieving its goals for open data.

If you want to learn more about the Inventory Base platform and how we give property agents, inventory clerks and property managers a smarter, easier tomorrow, book a demo today!