A material fact in real-estate is defined as any information that may influence the decision-making process of a buyer or seller of property, particularly regarding their decision as to whether they should remain in a contract or regarding the price paid or received for a specific property. Buyers have the right to be aware of all the features and defects of a property before making an offer. This means that sellers are responsible for disclosing all the facts at an early stage.
This blog will provide an overview of the four types of material facts in real-restate, the responsibilities of estate agents and the recent changes and requirements that have been introduced by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT).
There are four types of material facts about property; the first includes facts about the property itself, for example, any significant defects of the property including structural defects, malfunctioning systems such as flooding issues or moisture damage.
The second material fact is based on external factors related directly to the property that may affect the use, desirability, or value of the property. Example of external factors include plans to widen a street or other planned construction in the area.
The third material fact is related to the completion of transactions such as the buyer’s inability to qualify for a loan or close on a home purchase without first selling their current home. It may also be related to the seller’s inability to convey a clear title through the commencement of a closure proceeding.
Furthermore, the fourth material fact in real-estate is related to facts that are known to be of special importance to a party. For example, if a potential buyer aims to run a home-based business, the seller would be required to inform the buyer about whether home-businesses are allowed or not.
Estate agents are required to fill out a property disclosure form to disclose in writing all the relevant material facts about a property including any defects, external factors, transaction issues or other additional information that may be considered important to the potential buyers. This is because buyers have a legal right to know all this information, carefully review all disclosure forms and ask questions before committing to buying a property. If estate agents fail to disclose all necessary information about property truthfully, then there could be some profound consequences such as a court case and excessive cost for misinformation.
According to the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT), estate agents will now be required to reveal more ‘material information’ about properties within their portal listings. This is to put potential buyers at more ease before deciding to buy or rent a property. Estate agents have the responsibility to inform potential buyers or renters about the council tax rate, price or rent and tenure information for all properties.
The initial stage of the ‘material information’ requirement has already been introduced and will continue until May 2022 with a potential for newer, stronger measures to be introduced in the future. These changes will encourage those in the property market to ensure that they understand the rights of their potential buyers or renters and to be aware of their responsibilities as a real-estate agent and the consequences of avoiding disclosure. These changes will have a clear positive impact on clients as they will be able to make more informed decisions and avoid any issues earlier on when conducting a property search.
If estate agents fail to mention all material information about properties, then this will be clearly identified on the portal to ensure that potential buyers are aware that the information has been omitted.
The new regulations regarding material information have been a positive step forward in the real-estate market as it works in the best interests of both potential buyers and sellers. For buyers, they will be aware of all the potential issues related to certain properties so that they can make informed decisions before committing to a specific property. For sellers, they will be providing the best service for potential clients and will also protect themselves from court cases and liability.
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