Despite recent advances across the sector, data on large parts of the built environment does not exist in a digital format. In the UK, having this data would support the development of use cases. It would also provide value to property owners and to central and local government. While the benefits of digitisation can be realised across all property types, this article focuses on the UK residential property. However, many, if not all the themes discussed below, will have relevance to other countries.
As of January 2022, the value of UK residential housing stock was estimated at over £8 trillion by Savills and the number of UK households was put at some 28.1m by the Office for National Statistics. Aside from the substantial monetary value of UK housing; societal, environmental, and health and safety benefits are essential considerations when assessing the opportunity to manage these properties using digital data sets.
There are a variety of terms that risk confusion when thinking about digitalising residential property. These include Property Logbook, Property Passport, Property Pack, Building Passport, Property MOT, Building Retrofit Passport, and Digital Twin. What these terms have in common is they imply a digital data set that seeks to capture the most important characteristics of a property. Capturing these characteristics allows multiple stakeholders to perform a variety of due diligence tasks.
Digital conveyancing: The Home Buying and Selling Group
In England and Wales particularly, the process of buying and selling property is slow. Data bottlenecks are often a contributing factor. As a result, property transactions are vulnerable to failure at many points along the chain of prospective buyers and sellers.
A wide range of data is required to support due diligence in property sales. That data needs to be assembled from a wide range of sources from the public and private sector. It also needs to satisfy a range of stakeholders, including buyers, conveyancers, lenders, HM Land Registry, HM Treasury and other interested parties.
There is certainly value in digitising data sets and in making these data sets available as ‘upfront’ information at the point properties are marketed for sale by agents.
The Home Buying & Selling Group is an informal grouping of participants across the property, legal, and finance sectors, working to improve the home buying and selling process for the consumer. Its Tech Subgroup is developing a proof of concept for an open application programming interface (API). This API will allow data based on the Buying and Selling Property Information (BASPI) data set to be exchanged between market participants across the whole buying, selling, and conveyancing process. The BASPI data set has been mapped to the RICS Data Standard (RDS).