A set of tech tools designed to create a “common language” for property transactions has been launched by the Home Buying and Selling Group (HBSG), the industry grouping consulted by the government on ways of improving conveyancing.
Maria Harris, chair of the HBSG technology working group, said the property data trust framework (PDTF) also aimed to standardise how data was shared and ensure that the provenance of data was clear.
The PDTF, which took 18 months to develop, is already being used by 10 law firms and a handful of estate agents – including Winkworths and Hunters – in a beta testing programme.
They are asking sellers for permission to apply the PDTF to their data as part of the upfront information they provide for buyers.
A host of tech firms are also involved in the pilot: software providers Redbrick and Adoor, along with property search and data specialists TM Group, blockchain-based network Coadjute, upfront information wallet for consumers Moverly, and property logbook Ask Homey.
Ms Harris said the aim was to get 100 transactions through the beta test by March next year, to pave the way for a much wider roll-out and “mass adoption”.
Common standards would lead to “a lot more transparency in the data delivered upfront and less fall throughs in transactions”.
She also expected “less fraud”, as properties and people were more thoroughly checked, and more control over transactions for buyers and sellers.
Ms Harris compared the PDTF to the common standards that underpinned open banking.
In an introduction to the PDTF, the working group said: “There have been several attempts to use technology to improve the poor consumer experience of buying and selling residential property in the UK.
“The reasons these have not been successful are varied, but commonly they have sought to create a new proprietary digital platform on which all transactions must be conducted.
“Due to the highly fragmented nature of the industry, it has not yet been possible to secure sufficient adoption to incentivise all stakeholders to participate.”
The PDTF would allow people to “share data and coordinate transactions in a platform- and technology-agnostic manner”.
The framework would enable people and organisations to use and reuse “authenticated” information relating to a property.
The “initial use case” of the PDTF was to facilitate the upfront provision of property information through the HBSG’s Buying and Selling Property Information (BASPI) scheme.
Launched in 2020, the BASPI aims to act as a ‘single source of truth’ containing all the information required about a property when it is put on the market for sale.
The HBSG working group added: “The framework and open-source technology standards that we’ve created will ensure that property data is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable, will enable frictionless exchange of property data between software products and services, and will be supported by trusted information regarding the provenance of that data.”