Andrew Lloyd, Managing Director, Search Acumen 
”Over the years, Search Acumen has been a vocal advocate of digitalisation in the property industry. Efforts to improve data access, rethink processes and achieve faster turnaround times should all be embraced because both industry and consumers stand to benefit.
This is why we fully support HM Land Registry’s (HMLR) efforts to centralise and digitise the Local Land Charges (LLC) register. It will be working with 326 local authorities in England and Wales to migrate their LLC records to a centralised digital register, which could benefit a million homebuyers a year.
It is a hugely positive development for property professionals as well as buyers, and we foresee that this major milestone in the proliferation of property data will change how we all do business for the better. Any lawyer will tell you that LLC searches are a vital part of the property buying process and any delay in receiving this data can result in slowing the conveyancing process. Currently, each local authority’s records are held in a variety of formats such as paper, electronic scans and digital documents. The cost of a search can vary from a couple of pounds to nearly £80, and it can take anywhere from a day to a month to deliver the search results.
Once the project is completed, the new digital register will eliminate regional variations in the speed, format and costs of LLC searches, and online search results will be available instantly in a range of formats to suit individual customers’ needs.
Laying the foundations for a digital future
It doesn’t just stop there, the digitisation of property industry is accelerating and this is just one of many changes on the horizon that will soon make the legal aspects of building, buying and selling property a seamless process from end to end. LLC migration will lay the foundations for faster, simpler and intelligent service provision through effective use of data beyond its current limitations – service innovations that today’s customers are increasingly coming to expect.
It is forward looking developments like these which mean lawyers will one day be able to guarantee turnaround in hours, not weeks. They open up a myriad of possibilities to offer additional services and support to clients – with boundless data at their fingertips, lawyers will be able to build a full picture of a property or development and deliver risk assessment, instantly.
Over to the PropTech industry…
The government is playing its part in building an efficient future for the UK property market. In her 5th March speech, Theresa May laid out new rules to make the planning system fairer and more effective by streamlining the approval process, cutting red tape and removing barriers to building. HM Land Registry is feeding into this evolution too, with LLC migration just one example that sits alongside the likes of its Digital Street project which promotes the digitalisation of the sector.
Now it is down to the PropTech industry to help prepare for the digital future by building the systems to efficiently use the property data we can now access. For too long, we have lived with outdated processes which ultimately result in tougher working days and compromised customer service. Like most disruptive businesses, we place digitalisation at the heart of our business models – a key example being our Commercial Real Estate platform which is placing this real time property data at our clients finger tips. This means they can find out key information at the project initiation stage rather than waiting for reports to return. We firmly believe that those who are able to utilise big data and give their clients more will be the winners of this digital revolution.
Land Registry is setting the precedent and the industry must continue to push the boundaries with the tools and knowhow to use data for the greater good.”