HM Land Registry to smooth home-buying with digitisation

Organisation plans to automate up to 70% of all ownership changes by 2024-25

Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

HM Land Registry plans to use more data and digital processing to smooth the process of buying a home in England and Wales, according to a newly-published strategy document.

In Strategy 2022+, the department says home-buying is “unnecessarily complicated, opaque, stressful and too susceptible to failure” and that data and digital can help ease this. It wants to automate about half of its simplest applications by 2023-24, allowing them to go through in seconds, then up to 70% of all ownership changes by 2024-25.

The document notes that in 2021 the average home sale took 49% longer to complete than in 2007 and more than a quarter of transactions do not complete. HM Land Registry is working to develop a fully digital process for buying and selling in collaboration with other organisations, with all of its services supporting sales and purchases delivered through its online portal and direct system-to-system connections including mobile apps. It already accepts electronically-signed property transfers and mortgages and is supporting a standard digital identity checking service so no paper forms are required.

On registration, the organisation has made live a new system which will be able accept nearly all types of application by the end of this year. It has also restructured nearly 60% of its data to be machine readable, including through the use of natural language processing to extract data from unstructured text. It is in the process of introducing a new casework system and has brought in a document comparison tool which identifies differences between versions of documents, saving time for caseworkers.

“Post-sale registrations are taking too long to process and the digitisation of our services and ways of working has to develop further,” writes chief executive Simon Hayes in the strategy’s foreword. “We are still building a land registration system that is fully resilient and flexible in a market where demand is volatile and world events unpredictable.”

The organisation also plans to improve the availability of its data, including freely-available open data. This includes providing instant access to the local land changes register for all of England and Wales by the end of 2025 through a service on GOV.UK launched in 2018 which currently holds data from 47 local authorities.

Sam Trendall

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