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Estate Agents under pressure to include broadband speed on property details

Estate Agents under pressure to include broadband speed on property details

9:33am 9th October 2009
(Updated 8:53am 18th August 2010)

A survey has revealed that 84% of potential UK home buyers think broadband speed should be included in Estate Agents' property details; a view which is not shared by Estate Agents themselves.

The survey was compiled by leading comparison site Broadband Expert (www.broadband-expert.co.uk), which interviewed 253 individuals about their views on broadband in the home and shared the learnings with 50 high street Estate Agents to get an industry perspective.

"The internet has become such a vital part of people's work and home lifestyles, why shouldn't broadband speed be advertised up front in the buying process?" said Rob Webber, Commercial Director at Broadband Expert.

With one in eight people in the UK working from home (TUC Report May 2009) - a figure which is likely to increase during the economic downturn as people supplement their salaries with remote work outside office hours - and with trends towards "flexible" working on the increase, many will need to factor broadband speed into their decision before committing to a property.

"77% of respondents said they would think twice about buying or renting a property with poor broadband coverage," said Webber, "which suggests the information should be presented at the outset to prevent complications prior to exchange."

Estate Agents believe this would mean administering yet another detail on property specifications which, if reported incorrectly, would have legal implications. The less information given on property details, the less there is to cross reference and check.

Nearly half of Estate Agents questioned also felt that a poor broadband rating displayed up front could be an unnecessary barrier early in the sales pitch. That said, 73% said they believe broadband speed to be an important factor for modern property buyers, 47% have been asked about broadband speed by clients viewing properties, 23% have had experience of potential buyers pulling out of the sales process on account of being located in poor broadband areas and 55% think the information should be included in Home Information Packs.

"By definition, Home Information Packs are designed to give consumers a clear, up front picture of what they are buying," says Webber. "Why not include information about broadband speed? I am sure many consumers will find this more useful than a statistic about how economical the light bulbs are and how "green" the fridge is. If HIPs are here to stay then they should keep up with the times."

In response, Mike Ockenden, Director General of the Association of Home Information Pack Providers has said: "AHIPP believes that the principle of providing as much up front information as possible for potential home buyers is fundamental to the successful reform of the home buying and selling process. In today's hi-tech world in which many people work from home broadband speed is an important piece of information that should be disclosed and could be included in a HIP."

About 3 million homes in the UK currently have broadband speeds of less than 2Mbps which is the government's target for all by 2012. These so called "notspots" are not limited to rural communities and are present in many suburban areas and even streets in major towns.

"For those struggling on slow connections it can mean a very different surfing experience from those enjoying higher speeds." said Webber. In some cases people aren't able to shop online, aren't able to view certain websites or use social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter. And what about professionals who rely on the internet to video conference and download large volumes of data to do their jobs? Surely this could affect the most expensive decision of people's lives?"

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