By Andrew Lloyd, Managing Director, Search Acumen
PropTech is most effective when it is solving pain points in the property sector. So it was a natural step for us to address a well-known issue that all property lawyers are well aware of – the Search of the index Map, or, SIM process.
SIM pain points
This part of the property data process is the bedrock of any development and fulfills one of the most fundamental data practices a property lawyer must undertake: to check that everything within the boundaries of a development is registered, labelled and recorded. This process, however, can be inefficient and subject to expensive mistakes though human error.
Currently the first step of the process is to submit a SIM form to HM Land Registry (HMLR) alongside a copy of the property plan, after which it can take days and even weeks to wait for the results, delaying an understanding of the titles and the plot.
The dissemination thereafter can be equally time consuming. Despite HMLR’s results rarely changing, every transaction, particularly those of large sites, produces complex files. It’s often the job of a junior lawyer to physically piece the titles together using scissors and tape, as was very recently demonstrated to us by a client only last week.
Depending on the size of each transaction and its related dataset, the productivity of a law firm and the reliability of its work can be affected by the SIM process, and the longer it takes, the higher the margin for human error.
SNaPS – the next step in property data innovation
This is set to change with the launch of Search of the National Polygon Service or SNaPS for short. SNaPS is a first-of-its-kind service that instantly interrogates property boundaries and ownership data and generates a composition of titles report, removing the need to make a formal application.
Underpinned by HMLR’s National Polygon Service comprising 25 million titles and 28 million polygons, SNaPS gives commercial property lawyers instant property intelligence direct from original source, in the form of a visual representation of the SIM search.
By displaying HMLR’s title boundaries and other important property data on a map, lawyers can understand how the titles fit together from the outset, enabling teams to instantly assess the site and understand if the project can feasibly move forward as well as share this knowledge with their clients.
Doing more with digital conveyancing
SNaPS is the next step in the wider industry’s efforts to use HMLR datasets to drive innovation and deliver PropTech solutions. A fully digitised transaction process has the potential to address many of the inefficiencies and will ultimately improve speed and reliability.
SNaPS is a perfect example of how technology can be harnessed to improve business delivery and enable professionals to offer clients better insights. Ultimately, by freeing up time through more efficient, data driven processes, lawyers can take the advisory role they trained for and resume their rightful place as consultants at the heart of the property development process.