From the end of this month, the abbreviation POA - 'price on application' in property listings will be outlawed and estate agents will have to declare a price on websites and portals.

National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team- NTSELAT, was asked by industry to provide a view on the use POAof POA as part of the ongoing process to improve the disclosure of material information on property listings.

It has now published an opinion, developed with barrister Lee Reynolds in December 2020 and more recently the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) , that the phrase contravenes consumer protection legislation.

The conclusions from NTSELAT said: “Our view is that ‘POA’ or ‘price on application’ in relation to a property listing, whether on a property portal or an agent website or similar is likely to be misleading as it is withholding or in some cases masking the asking price from consumers.

“Not displaying the asking price is likely to be a misleading omission in that the price is information which the average consumer needs in order to take an informed transactional decision – i.e. to make enquiries about the property, conduct further research, arrange a viewing etc. The Competition and Markets Authority has also confirmed that it considers that the absence of pricing information (i.e. the POA approach) is likely to mislead by omission”

Paul Offley, compliance officer at The Guild of Property Professionals, added: “We appreciate the clarity James Munro has provided regarding POA and the importance of disclosure of material information so that buyers can make an informed choice before proceeding with any property transaction and the benefits this brings to both sellers and buyers. 

“We are working closely with our members to ensure they are ready for when the data fields are requested by property portals.”

Local agent Mark Townend of Appleby & Townend Estate Agents told us: "We welcome this decision and the continued drive to make the marketing and sale of property more transparent.

"Trading Standards’ has taken the view that certain terminology such as “POA” is confusing for consumers and in updating its guidance it is giving clarity for buyers, sellers and agents alike. Buying a property should always be about making an informed decision at all stages of the process."