With the failures of both theGovernment’s 2007 Chain Matrix Prototype and The Law Society-backed onlinesystem Veyo in 2015, one would question if the new Digital Property MarketSteering Group (DPMSG) is set to have a different outcome or if they will facethe same fate as their predecessors.
At the start of August, The LandRegistry announced the formation of the new Digital Property Market SteeringGroup (DPMSG), a collaboration of key industry insiders brought together topush the drive towards digital conveyancing.
The vision of the collaboration ofindustry insiders in the Government’s news story informs us that:
“We wanteveryone involved in buying, leasing, and selling land and property toexperience a secure and modern market that is transparent, customer-friendly,and business-friendly at all stages.”
Throughthis effort, the Government has enlisted numerous key industry insiders to helpdrive this vision forward including surveyors, conveyancers, legal propertyprofessionals, lenders, and estate agents. The founding members include:
· Law Society
· ConveyancingAssociation (CA)
· Council forLicensed Conveyancers
· The Societyof Licensed Conveyancers
· SolicitorsRegulation Authority
· RoyalInstitution of Chartered Surveyors
· CharteredInstitute of Legal Executives (CILEX)
· Council ofProperty Search Organisations
· BuildingSocieties Association
· UK Finance
· HM LandRegistry
Kate Faulkner, Chair of the HBSG, told Today’s Conveyancer that this is “the culmination of five years of super hard work on behalf of a lot of volunteers.” Faulkner hopes that with time digitised information will enable answers to a whole host of questions buyers may have when buying a property and the implementation of the DPMSG provides the first step in making this a reality.
The information provided by the Government states that there are four DPMSG working groups that will focus on:
· Public commitment: Joint conference on Digital Property Market in 2023
· Removing barriers and empower members to drive change: Upfront information.
· Research and Development: Embracing digital identity.
· Increasing transparency: Advocating for data initiatives – exploring interoperability
On September 12, 2023, the DPMS Ghosted a conference in London, in partnership with the Government and industry regulators. The event aimed to unite leaders and insiders from across the sector, setting a clear direction for a secure and modern property market. Attendees included conveyancers, surveyors, estate agents, solicitors, banks, finance sector representatives, and legal tech experts.
From the collaborative discussions among the attendees, the main areas of need included accurate property information, environmental data, streamlined access to lease and deed information, and simplified identity verification processes. Attendees expressed frustration with the current length and complexity of property transactions and the lack of readily available property information, which often leads to sales falling through. Attendees also expressed frustration around the length of time it took for them to gather certain property information due to it not being readily available for them to access.
Distinguished speakers at the event included:
Kate Faulkner OBE, Chair of the Home Buying and Selling Group
Mike Harlow, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Customer and Strategy at HM Land Registry
Hannah Cook, Director of Cadastre and Land Registration at the Norwegian Mapping Authority
Rachel Maclean MP, Minister of State (Housing and Planning), Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Although she did not attend in person and the room certainly did not hide their frustration at this)
Jonathan Clifton, Housing Deputy Director, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
During his introduction at the conference, Mike Harlow expressed that the event was an opportunity to gain attendees ‘reactions and input into plotting the path to the peak.’ He expressed that the HM Land Registry’s ‘number one priority is and always will be customer service and prioritising speed of service.’ He assured those in attendance that ‘this is not a distraction from that, this helps.’
The conference did have a huge focus on the customer and their needs. The goal of making the industry digital is to make the home buying and selling process less stressful for the industry, but most importantly, for those who are moving home.
Hannah Cook's presentation was particularly enlightening as she discussed Norway's remarkable achievements in digitisation. In Norway, property sales are expedited, with some completed in as little as a single day. The key factor contributing to this efficiency is the immediate availability of comprehensive property information when a property is listed, ensuring that all stakeholders possess the necessary details to fully comprehend any factors that might impact the sale. What stands out most about this approach is its remarkable simplicity and brevity, which prevents potential buyers from feeling overwhelmed by information, resulting in an exceptionally smooth and stress-free property transaction process, a feat yet to be fully realised in the UK.
Many legal tech companies were also present at the conference discussing the way their products can assist the legal sector in their goal of digitisation. Legal tech companies can offer a valuable asset to law firms and estate agents looking to streamline their workflow and allow them to focus on their matters, instead of chasing admin tasks.
The DPMSG has also launched a podcast, "Property with a View," featuring leaders and influencers from various sectors of the property industry. In partnership with HM Land Registry Chief Mike Harlow, the podcast aims to discuss necessary changes within the property sector and provide insights on digital transformation.
While the success of the DPMS Gremains to be seen, it is widely acknowledged that collaborative efforts with the legal tech industry are essential for implementing a successful digital transformation in the land and property market. With its ambitious vision and diverse expertise, the DPMSG represents a promising step forward in achieving a modern, efficient, and customer-centric digital property market. We can only hope that it achieves what its predecessors could not.