Holistically Shared Data Sources Will Solve Housing Problems

Improved data and technology have been identified as the key ingredients to improve consumer confidence in the housing market, reduce fraud and ensure the efficient and timely turn around on housing completions.

Whilst on the Home Buying Panel at the Council of Licensed Conveyancers’ annual conference, Mike Harlow, acting chief executive of HM Land Registry (HMLR), highlighted digital data as the main concern for the industry in the long-term.

Whilst reviewing HMLR’s main priorities, Harlow highlighted a need for data to not only become electronic as the current land data system is, but fully digital so that it can be easily updated and accessed. Currently, the searches offer a lot of PDF documents made from scanned paper originals.

Harlow also speculated that the property market needs to consolidate its data into a singular live source; intimating that by buyers, sellers, lawyers, estate agents and surveyors using the same data source will create greater transparency and ultimately reduce completion times.

He also emphasised the importance of creating a comprehensive data source that includes anything and everything pertinent to the selling process. Estate agent information on historic sales is still used disposably but would be useful for a number of reasons after the sale. Historic building data that is often discarded could be beneficial in this regard as well.

As Anti Money Laundering (AML) regulators and governmental fraud agencies introduce the implementation of the ‘Confirmation of Payee’ legislation this year, it is thought that this increased digital information will worry many active property fraudsters.

Paul Horlock, chief executive of Pay.UK, formally the Payment System Operator, said: “Sending a payment with an incorrect sort code or account number is like addressing a letter with the wrong post code. Even if you have used the correct name it won’t reach the intended destination – and fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated in using this to trick people into sending money to the wrong account.

“Confirmation of Payee will let you check you have the correct name for the person or business you’re paying, giving better protection against certain types of fraud, and helping to stop accidental mistakes too.”

This new holistic system will allow relevant people to ascertain a name match between buyer and account number, stopping the sale confirmation if the data does not match. However, some have argued that greater levels of data need to be available to all major stakeholders to avoid fraud as it becomes more sophisticated.

This idea was expanded upon during the afternoon session on the changing face of construction. As the skilled labour force begins to retire, the UK may become more reliant of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). If more pre-fabricated homes or sections of homes are used, information will need to be readily available for a range of stakeholders.

The panel argued that it makes sense for a communal data pool as Lenders will need to know which MMC methods were used and whether the building meets adequate standards; conveyancers and estate agents will also need to explain and pass on this information to buyers and sellers; the home owner will need to know the precise areas using MMC as this may affect the ability to make adaptations to the home.

Although this vision for the property sector may remain in the blurry distance for years to come, the property market will begin to see signs of greater collaboration as data is digitalized which could bring a more streamlined system with it.

Do you think these prophetic insights could become a reality in the near future? Or, do you think a holistic data source could pose problems?

X