The National Trading Standards (NTS) Estate & Letting Agency Team has published revised guidance with regard to supplementary terms used when marketing properties. The guidance now includes terms relating to lettings and has been developed in consultation with industry stakeholders.
There are currently many terms used to describe the status of a property during the marketing process – ‘new on the market’, ‘new instruction’, ‘under offer’, ‘sale/let agreed’, ‘sold/let subject to contract’, ‘sold/let’ etc. These terms are widely used in advertisements, marketing boards and on property portal listings, but there is some confusion within the industry and with the public about the use of these terms and what they mean, which can lead to frustration and delay in the home buying and renting process.
Where there are delays in updating a property’s status or use of incorrect descriptions this can lead to an agent being in breach of industry codes and their legal obligations. This guidance is not intended to require agents or portals to use the terms provided by the NTS, but to provide a working definition when they are used.
It is a legal requirement that the marketing status of a property is accurately described and updated in a timely manner, as this is material information for prospective purchasers and tenants. It is the responsibility of the agent to ensure that this information is clear, unambiguous, and up to date while any advertising is still live.
The use of any of the NTS terms is voluntary but agents must still ensure that material information about the status of the property is clearly communicated to potential buyers or renters. The guidance applies to the marketing of residential property for sale or rent and is principally based on the application of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Emma Cooke, Policy & Information Manager, National Trading Standards Estate & Letting Agency Team, said:
“Agents commonly use terms like ‘new on the market’, ‘new instruction’, ‘under offer’, ‘sale/let agreed’, ‘sold/let subject to contract’ in advertisements, marketing boards and on property portal listings. Delays in updating a property’s listing status or use of incorrect descriptions can lead to frustration for all involved in the buying or renting process – as well as risking agents breaching industry codes and their legal obligations.
“This updated guidance is intended to provide consistency and clarity and – by providing a working definition – we hope this helps reduce unnecessary confusion for property agents, consumers, and other organisations in the property industry.”
See the full guidance including new terms here.