Buying and selling residential property in the UK has been fraught with issues in the past few years. Confidence and certainty in the industry are at rock bottom for a number of reasons, and not just on the consumer side.
We’ve seen many innovators arrive with the best of intentions and a plan to bring about much-needed reforms in the buying and selling process, but the sad truth is many have failed… until now.
The Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 states that material information must be disclosed when a property is listed for sale. In the past, what constitutes material information has been open for debate.
In order to address that, The Home Buying and Selling Group stepped in to define that material information through the use of BASPI, the Buyers and Sellers Property Information, with a goal to decrease the time to exchange and reduce the number of fall throughs – which currently sit at around 40% – while significantly speeding up the process for every stakeholder.
To take things to the next level, the group recently built upon its work with BASPI by releasing the first public version of its Property Data Trust Framework, setting out a clear, consistent and shareable single source of truth for property information – one that truly promises to revolutionise the industry once and for all by digitising property data.
What is the Property Data Trust Framework?
The Property Data Trust Framework (PDTF) is a standardised set of data and governance principles developed by a diverse 150-strong team of HBSG members, including among many others Steve Rad, the founder of Inventory Base.
Under the guidance of Beth Rudolf, Maria Harris and other notable luminaries in the property, legal and finance sectors, the new framework has been developed to incorporate the existing BASPI dataset, while also including the Title Deed, Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and Property Searches data.
In technical terms, it’s an open-source repository of JSON schemas, a standard file type for storing and transmitting data in a readable format. It’s also platform agnostic, meaning that it doesn’t need specific software to use it.
Requiring separate software that runs on individual licenses or needs additional training has been a major sticking point during previous attempts to standardise property data, HBSG has removed the need for a new ecosystem, enabling it to plug into existing systems with little-to-no friction.
Why do we need the Property Data Trust Framework?
With the time to exchange skyrocketing and fall throughs an ever-present concern, the Property Data Trust Framework comes along at a time when certainty is sorely needed. Against the backdrop of tumultuous market conditions, the cost of living crisis, and the emergence from a global pandemic, time is of the essence.
What the PDTF does is it puts the buyers and the sellers at the centre of the transaction journey, ushering in a renewed sense of control in a process that has typically made them feel helpless as they wait up to 3 months, and in some cases even longer, to exchange.
The information contained within the PDTF can be compiled early on in the process and shared with other stakeholders involved in the buying and selling process, including conveyancers, lenders and more. It enables the rapid exchange of information, aiming to cut the buying and selling process significantly.
The principles of the Property Data Trust Framework
It’s important to remind ourselves of the principles behind the Property Data Trust Framework so we can better understand the need for it, as well as how it can address the challenges faced throughout the property transaction journey. The HBSG has identified four main principles, as follows:
This is about putting the consumer, in this case, the buyer or seller, in control of their own data. At the same time, it allows for some level of accessibility and transparency, but only when it is expressly permitted by the consumer.
Built on open standards
If it requires a proprietary piece of software that comes with all the associated costs and resources that entails, it would be an uphill struggle to get it adopted across the industry. Instead, to remove the barriers to entry, there will be tools and software compliant with the framework that are already in daily use.
Being a single source of truth, the material and information contained within the framework must be trustworthy itself. To achieve this, HBSG will enable access to the provenance of the data, so stakeholders are assured that it is accurate, up-to-date and uncompromised.
Currently, the framework takes into account what has been set out above, but it has been developed in a way that enables the straightforward evolution of standards, covering a broader spectrum of property data use cases.
The importance of secure data
At Inventory Base, other than developing a range of key features to streamline the buying and selling of property, we understand the importance of data security. Our platforms have been designed with security processes and practices front of mind, knowing how imperative it is to protect critical business information.
In order to continuously set the bar in data security, we conduct regular vulnerability checks on our own platforms. When stacked against our competitors and other software providers in the industry, we consistently score above them in nearly every metric.
The way Inventory Base handles files, accounts and databases takes into consideration the stringent regulatory compliance requirements above all, so we ensure that our storage and handling of data is watertight.
So, why is this important? Well, with the Property Data Trust Framework entering a testing phase with real customers on live transactions, the question will be asked – how secure is it? Remember, consumer confidence is currently at a low ebb, so as property practitioners and software providers, we must do what we can to instil confidence in those we serve.
Empowering customer transparency to boost consumer confidence and reduce uncertainty is a huge part of what we do at Inventory Base, as it always has been, so those principles are constantly underpinned by our commitment to the secure storage and exchange of data.
We’re intensely proud to be working closely with HBSG on this uniquely innovative approach to property information, and we can’t wait to show you how we’re facilitating the next step in the property transaction process.