A data revolution is brewing in the once static property sector. While advancement in technology has made it easier to address some of the inherent challenges, it is our approach to data that will ultimately drive the transformation to come.
In fact, "it's all about the data", according to the "Conveyancing 2030" discussion paper written by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC). As the report predicts, "reliable, trusted data will be the cornerstone of the digital property market…”
But wait, this isn't news, is it?
We’ve known for some time that a more seamless flow of information between all parties involved would reduce duplication, improve communication and make the process of buying and selling a house much faster and easier. There have been attempts in the past to improve the movement of information, however, they have focused on the movement of documents, not data. The distinction is very important.
You might think the difference between sharing data and documents is just semantics, but in fact, it's at the heart of why Coadjute is different.
In a traditional model, documents with information (PDFs) are sent to each of the parties in the transaction. They are typically filled out and scanned back and sent to the next person. All of that precious information is trapped within the document. The only way to use it in another form or for another purpose is to manually move it it by writing it in another form or typing it out.
However, when the information is stored as pieces of data, that data is only entered once and is able to be reused many times, across all of the forms required to complete a property transaction. And when the data is moved across a secure form of blockchain, like with Coadjute - you can see where the data came from and verify it independently.
To drive a better future for the sector, not only does all of the information need to be pieces of data, it is also crucial to bring it all together in one place. We also need to connect all the different platforms and systems used by estate agents, conveyancers, brokers etc, to ensure they have access to the information they need when they need it.
But if this hasn’t been possible before, what’s different now?
There are a number of exciting things happening simultaneously in the property sector that signal the stars are finally aligning for change.
The shift in consumer expectations is forcing companies to overhaul how they connect and serve their customers, according to a recent report from McKinsey. Consumers today can have seamless digital experiences in every other aspect of their lives, so they are rightly questioning why isn't it the same in the property sector?
The fact that you can buy a car online and have it delivered the next day, but buying a property of the same value can take up to 8 months, shows that something isn't right.
As consumers seek more transparency, convenience, and control, property professionals are also looking to technology to help them reduce costs, increase efficiency, and provide a competitive service and experience. It’s clear there is a growing eagerness and impatience for change on all sides.
Carol Lewis, Property Editor for the Times, recently expressed her shock and dismay that people are still buying houses by snail mail. And let’s face it she is not alone in her thinking. That’s why we believe Project Meridian, a collaboration between ourselves, the Land Registry, Bank of England, and Bank of International Settlements is so crucial. We believe this initiative will greatly simplify the flow of information across a transaction. It will also go a long way in avoiding the exchange of paper-based documents and insecure email, cutting the risk of fraud and transactions being delayed or derailed at the 11th hour.
It’s encouraging that the sector’s long-standing challenges around data fragmentation and lack of interoperability are being addressed by the Home Buying & Selling Group. They recently announced that following the public release of v2.0 of the Property Data Trust Framework, they have formed an independent industry body, the Open Property Data Association (OPDA), aimed at supporting companies that are revolutionising the property industry through data collaboration.
At Coadjute, we believe in open data and standards, that's why we are a main contributor of code to the Home Buying & Selling Group open free property data trust framework. Our view is that the more CMS providers and property software providers that are willing to participate in this emerging industry data standard, the better.
The OPDA will drive the adoption of common standards for property data, promoting and sharing best practices, and driving innovation. As a result every consumer can be confident that the data on any given property is trustworthy, interoperable, and adheres to the OPDA standards at all times. In addition to making property data safe and trustworthy, it will also make it interoperable, which will effectively speed up the entire buying and selling process. We are already seeing some encouraging results on this front, with volunteer firms using these open standards to reduce transaction times up to 70%, process customer checks 80% faster, and lower fall-through rates.
Here are some of the other transformative benefits these open standards for data can bring to the sector:
Property-related information can be exchanged and accessed seamlessly across many stakeholders using open data standards, including buyers, sellers, agents, conveyancers, brokers, and lenders. Transparency fosters trust and allows decision-makers to make more informed choices, which leads to smoother transactions and lower transaction costs.
Open data standards encourage collaboration among different players in the property market. When data is easily shared and understood, stakeholders can work together to identify trends, uncover insights, and collectively drive innovation.
As a result of open data standards, consumers are able to easily access accurate and reliable information about properties. By using standardised data, buyers can compare options, evaluate prices, and make more informed decisions.
Open data standards simplify regulatory compliance for property market participants. Standardised data formats and reporting requirements help streamline processes and reduce the burden of compliance.
We’re confident the widespread adoption of open data standards in the property market will be a significant step towards a more efficient, transparent, and innovative future. To maximise the value that open data offers, we encourage everyone to get involved and grab hold of this opportunity. By collaborating together on this we can unlock the incredible potential open data can bring for the sector. Ultimately helping to achieve faster and more secure transactions and a better experience for everyone. Why not join us in making it happen?