On 30th November 2023, the snappily titled National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) made their long-awaiting (and delayed) announcement about the requirements for estate agents to provide upfront “material information” to prospective home buyers.
The full guidance document is available HERE
Part A of the “guidance” (actually, a requirement to comply with an obligation to provide material information on residential property listings) has already been in place for some time and includes information such as council tax, asking price and tenure.
Parts B and C are the new requirements being introduced today, and they take the process a long way forward.
How does this affect surveyors? Well, some of the information required for B and C are, potentially, going to be quite difficult for sellers or estate agents to know. Look at the list below:-
The physical characteristics of the property
The number and types of rooms
Restrictions and rights
Flood and erosion risk
Planning permission and proposals for development
Property accessibility and adaptations
Coalfield or mining area
Let’s look at some of these in a bit more detail
For example, in B “The physical characteristics of the property” include “materials type/materials used in construction”. These are described as:
“A listing should include an accurate description or statement as to the property’s construction materials/type, where there is a known consideration in the property. A “known consideration” may be, for example, something to do with property materials that knowingly impacts the buyer’s enjoyment of the property, mortgage availability, or the availability of relevant insurance products.”
…and they go on to describe examples such as a thatched roof, prefabricated builds or timber framed windows.
Really? What does this mean? Why would “timber framed windows” represent a “known consideration” as opposed to any other type of window?
And would an estate agent or property owner necessarily know if the property was constructed in such a way that it represented a “known consideration”?
And let’s look at C. They include the statement that “any known building safety issues are material information”.
They give examples such as asbestos and “at-risk wooden decking for external structures (including balconies).”
How many owners or agents would recognise asbestos-containing materials, or the early signs of rot in a timber balcony structure?
Without going into minute detail, what this looks like is the potential for an estate agent to get things spectacularly wrong.
A lot of the information required is not the sort of knowledge that the everyday homeowner or estate agent is likely to have or know how to identify.
But surveyors gather all this information as part of their everyday work. It’s what we do.
So, does this provide us with a great opportunity to work with estate agents to pull this information together to help them meet their legal obligations?
Certainly, it falls outside of the “normal” pattern of the estate agent/surveyor relationship. But does that mean that we cannot seek to develop a new-look relationship? Why could we not look to obtain and deliver this information as part of a trade-off against better promotion of surveys by the agent?
Without doubt the world of surveying is going to change in the coming years. Already the talk is of “upfront information”, and comparisons have been made with other territories where pre-marketing surveys are the norm. Sure, the property markets in Scotland or Norway are very different and not necessarily comparable to that in England and Wales , but it would be negligent of organisations such as the RPSA not to be working with industry stakeholders to see what the possibilities are.
And the first step in this process might just be that conversation with your local estate agents about how we can help them obtain and deliver accurate and complete “material information”.
Every member of the RPSA endeavours to deliver a high quality and consistently reliable service to their client on every occasion.
But, as in any walk of life, despite our utmost efforts, sometimes, something goes wrong. And that is why it is so important that RPSA members can rely on receiving expert advice on their professional indemnity insurance.
PII, like any other form of insurance, ensures that, in the event of an unforeseen and unexpected event, there is proper cover in place to protect all parties from loss.
But PII is a specialist type of insurance that needs an experienced and knowledgeable broker to ensure that the surveyors' cover properly matches the type of work they undertake and the specific needs of their business.
RPSAs partner in PI is UK Global and you can read how surveyors rate their service HERE
Another consideration with PI is how claims are notified and the special conditions that apply to PII. You can more about that HERE
Being a member of the RPSA is not just about being part of a professional association that stands for the highest standards in our industry.
As a valued member of the RPSA we can offer a range of benefits to support you in your business.
1. PG Mutual - At a time when people are feeling the strain financially, a PG Mutual Income Protection Plus plan can play an important role in providing an additional safety net to protect your income against the unforeseen impact of illness or injury. A PG Mutual plan could provide you with a regular income to cover your bills and living expenses – protecting the things you care about most – if you suddenly found yourself unable to work due to incapacity. Want to know more? Click HERE for more information.
2. UK Global - There's nothing more important to Surveyors than securing good quality Professional Indemnity Insurance at competitive rates. That is why RPSA have selected UK Global, a member of the Howdens Group, as our preferred PI partner. Their specialist team provide a tailor-made offering exclusively for RPSA members, reflecting the associations' diligent approach to the handling of risk and its workings to minimise members exposures in the course of undertaking their professional activities. Find out how UK Global can help you by clicking HERE
3. Drive Electric - As more and more of us consider the benefits of an electric car, The RPSA have teamed up with EV leasing specialists, Drive Electric, to offer you the best range of vehicles and the best deals. Want to know more? Watch our recent webinar to see how an EV could benefit you. Click HERE for the video.
What a year that was! Want to find out more? Spend just 5 minutes to read about all we've done.
What we have achieved at the RPSA over the last 12 months is nothing short of astounding.
But it has let us set in place the firm foundations that will support the next phase of the Association’s growth in 2022 and beyond.
In just 11 short years, the RPSA has become the leading professional association representing independent residential property surveyors. We support existing and new practitioners by providing a framework that helps members do what they do best, and that is to get on and deliver the best possible service and quality to their clients.
When we launched the Survey Inspection & Reporting Standards in 2020, the RPSA set a new benchmark in the residential surveying sector, with the highest standards ever introduced for surveyors. And that means that consumers, our clients, know that they can trust an RPSA surveyor.
But it doesn’t stop there. In 2021 our ambition was to deliver the fundamental foundations that support the membership structure that sits above. That will provide the firm base on which to extend our reach in 2022.
So let’s quickly look at what we launched, introduced and achieved in 2021:-
The most comprehensive package of benefits ever introduced by a surveyors Association
Bespoke Terms & Conditions created by the leading sector law firm for the protection of surveyors and consumers
Code of Conduct detailing the professional standards expected of RPSA members
Exemplar policies for:-
The Property Ombudsman redress scheme providing impartial complaints management
Bespoke PI policy offering competitive rates and comprehensive cover
All of these benefits are available to members as part of their standard membership package through the RPSA Member login area
In 2021 the RPSA ran not one, not two, but three conferences.
The main conference, Reach for the Stars, in Leicester in November was the biggest, boldest and most successful event in our history. Delegates responded that it wasn’t just the best RPSA conference ever, nor just the best surveyors conference ever, but it was the best conference of ANY type that they had ever attended.
If you want to re-live it, or find out what happened, you can watch the video here 2021 Conference review
And we’ve already set the date for our Driving the Future conference on 15th March 2023 at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
On top of that, we ran, for the first time ever, two student conferences that were created to help guide, motivate and educate new entrants to our industry.
More than 95% of those who attended said they would recommend the event to others in the future.
Helping consumers understand the benefits of using an RPSA surveyor can be difficult for individual members to convey, so we commissioned a video to get a clear and simple message across to our prospective clients.
And the result is available for every full member to embed on their own website, to reinforce that it is only RPSA surveyors that are guaranteed to do a full and thorough inspection on every single occasion. Watch the video here RPSA the Movie
A brand new RPSA website helping consumers, surveyors and other industry professionals quickly find the information they need.
RPSA are the first, and only, professional surveyors association ever to introduce standards for new-build snagging inspections.
The standards arise after a 2-year RPSA-led consultation working with the New Homes Quality Board, key industry stakeholders, Government, consumer groups and existing practitioners. In the near future, ALL new home buyers will have an absolute right to commission an RPSA member to carry out a Pre-Completion snagging inspection on their behalf and help ensure that the quality of their new home meets their expectations.
Click the link to download a copy of the new standards RPSA New-build Survey Inspection & Reporting Standards
In 2021 we resumed our Meet & Greet events, meeting members, non-members, students and random strangers(!) at a series of informal gatherings in Milton Keynes, Crawley, Exeter, Newcastle, and Warrington.
Getting out to meet members on their own doorstep is a vital way for the RPSA to be a relevant, inclusive and dynamic organisation that can really meet the needs of its members.
Watch out for more events being scheduled for 2022 by visiting RPSA Events
The RPSA Panel secures survey instructions on behalf of members, working with consumers, High St lenders, valuers, conveyancers and others. In 2021 we put more than £1 million of fees into RPSA members' pockets, and 2022 promises to be even bigger.
....will see the growth and development of the Association continue unabated. We're already working hard on plans to extend membership reach, expand the panel, and develop and introduce new products and services.
The value of a professional association is not just about badges, it's about actions and results. The RPSA will continue, in 2022, to work as hard as possible to support its members for the benefit of the residential surveying profession, our clients and our colleagues throughout the industry.
If you didn't make it to the 2021 RPSA Conference, "Reach for the Stars" held at the National Space Centre in Leicester, what a day you missed.
The biggest, boldest and most exciting event in the history of the RPSA, delegates were treated to a sparkling array of speakers, a spectacular venue, cocktails, and the best goodie bag in the business.
The title for the event, "Reach of the Stars" marks the beginning of a new dawn for residential surveying and for the Residential Property Surveyors Association.
Building on the foundations laid in 2021, the RPSA is set to become THE standard for residential surveying in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
But, don't worry, if you missed being there then you can experience some of the excitement by watching the movie and reliving the drama of the day.
We made three important announcements at the Conference:-
The next RPSA Conference, "Driving the Future" takes place on 15th March 2023 at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon, Warwickshire. Mark the date in your diary so you don't miss it. Tickets on sale early 2022.
Many RPSA surveyors have, from time to time, been asked to carry out snagging surveys on new build property. Often, though, when they have tried to book in for the inspection they have been refused access to the site by the builder. Why is this?
In part it’s because builders don’t know how the surveyor is going to carry out his inspection. What degree of detail will he/she go into? Will it be a fair appraisal? Will the surveyor be over-zealous? And it’s actually a fair point. The problem is that, until now, there have never been standards for snagging surveyors to work to. This has resulted in a “Wild West” industry of snagging surveyors all working to different sets of measurements, with vastly different results.
That’s why, in 2019, the RPSA set out to deliver a set of standards that would not only work for surveyors and builders but would give consumers the opportunity to get useful independent advice about the quality of their new home.
When starting out on the project it all seemed quite straightforward. Sit down with a few industry representatives and draw up some standards. In theory that’s what we did, but the practice turned out to be quite a lot more involved!
The stakeholder group invited to participate in the discussion simply grew and grew until it included representatives from virtually every sector of the property industry. The project coincided with the launch of the draft Building Safety Bill which included the provision for the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman. That bought the New Homes Quality Board into the equation and the prospect of some form of Pre-Completion Inspection (aka a snagging report) being an integral part of the New Homes Code, a mandatory part of the Ombudsman scheme.
So the RPSA New build Inspection & Reporting Standards (NIRS) are borne out of the widest possible consultation with the property industry and are consistent with the requirements of the New Homes Code. What this means is that there is no longer an excuse for any builder to refuse site access to a surveyor when they are carrying out an inspection based on the RPSA standards.
For consumers it brings about transformational change as buyers will no longer be prevented from getting independent advice about the quality of their new home.
The standards are based on a visual review of the finishing quality of those things that the homeowner will touch, use, feel and see on day 1 in the property.
The Hackett review Independent Review of Building Safety and Fire Safety, carried out after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, focused on the nature and implementation of building regulations, and this has been covered comprehensively by the Building Safety Bill. It’s impossible for a surveyor carrying out a visual inspection of a completed home to undertake a comprehensive review of building regulations compliance and so the NIRS recognise that, where contraventions of building regulations are apparent, a different, more comprehensive, and perhaps invasive, inspection will be required.
There are a range of different finishing standards offered by builders, warranty providers and others, but the standard reference is that offered by “NHBC Chapter 9.1”. After wide consultation, a working group of industry stakeholders agreed the basis for assessment of a completed new build property that would offer a consistent approach to a Pre-Completion Inspections. The RPSA NIRS follow the principles of this approach to achieve a consistent inspection and reporting regime.
We’ve all read the stories of misery experienced by unfortunate new home buyers whose dream home has turned out to be a nightmare. With the New build Survey Inspection & Reporting Standards we can’t help to solve everybody’s problems overnight. But in offering a consistent and measured approach to snagging surveys we can encourage cooperation from builders and deliver better outcomes for our clients.
Want to read the new standards...just download them HERE