UK Government signposts a propdata revolution to fuel housing reforms


Search AcumenBy Andrew Lloyd, Managing Director, Search Acumen

In recent months, the UK Government’s commitment to housing reform has become increasingly certain – and one of the ways it is trying to underpin that is by making more property data available.

A recent call by the Ministry for Homes, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for evidence in how to improve the house buying and selling process, for example, had a strong slant towards the use of property data. It noted prominently that the “digitisation of data could have a real impact” on the transaction process, and more than 500 respondents commented on one of the major questions in the consultation: “Are there any particular public sector datasets which you think should be released as open data in order to drive innovation in the home buying and selling process?”

Also, this summer the Government launched a consultation from the new Geospatial Commission, aimed to be part of the fuel of driving the land and property data agenda forward. The Geospatial Commission is a group of six of public bodies that hold data and information that is deemed ‘geospatial’, including HM Land Registry (HMLR) and the Ordinance Survey. It plans to “maximise the value of data linked to location, which could generate £11 billion a year.”

The Commission has been tasked with creating and releasing data sets in a way that will make it universally useful for private sector to tie all the data together. It’s heartening to see that it is speaking to private industry to work out how best to make this happen.

Clearly from these recent calls for public and private co-operation that the modernisation for buying and selling property will be driven by the availability and access to property information.

The Government has signposted that it sees a future where the homebuyer has all the information they need up to make a decision. One in three UK house sales fall through, so we have to address this fast – and the quickest way to solve the problem is to get data and information in front of buyers to allow them to see if it’s the right transaction for them.

Across the board, property companies are acting. Proptech companies are creating new property services, fuelled by property data, to make the transaction process easier for buyers and sellers. There are now digital estate agents, digital services for law firms, services looking at digitising mortgages and even firms experimenting with property tokenisation. The whole buying and selling process is being looked at – and disrupted – by brave and innovative start-ups.

And, while these start-ups do not necessarily have the experience, they have the enthusiasm and spirit to try something new. Many will fail, but it’s the job of established industry players to not let their spark fade and instead help them bring their data-driven solutions to fruition for the good of the UK property market.

You could call this our industry’s ‘Woolworths moment’. Consumers are changing their behaviours already, and the government is clearly putting its flag in the ground – there is a sense now that there is a sea change in the property marketplace and we all have to act or risk extinction.

As 2018 draws to a close, propdata is taking precedence in the drive to make house buying and selling easier. We look forward to a bright, data-driven future.

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