The Open Property Data Association (OPDA) is more than just a name; it’s a beacon of hope for the property industry. Formed by a collective of forward-thinking industry professionals, property data providers, Proptech visionaries, and established organisations who share a common goal, the OPDA champions the cause of open property data for the greater good.
This blog aims to shed light on the very core of OPDA’s mission, underlining its call for upfront information and its potential to revolutionise the home buying and selling experience in the UK.
Mission Unveiled: The Heart of OPDA
OPDA’s launch was driven by a desire to ignite innovation, nurture trust, foster collaboration, and unite property market professionals. It beckons property professionals to join its ranks, but it’s no ordinary club. OPDA doesn’t just ask, it challenges prospective members to “change tomorrow.”
Once you’re a member, you’re expected to be a torchbearer of common standards and data-sharing best practices, not just within your own services but across the entire industry.
The challenge that OPDA has taken head-on is the lack of a universal language to describe property data. Existing approaches fell short in terms of tracing the roots of property data, so OPDA wisely decided to tackle this issue with open standards and an open API.
The cornerstone of OPDA’s efforts is the trust framework, which provides a secure channel for sharing data among its members and the wider property sector. This ensures that data handling is a responsibility taken seriously.
But that’s not all. OPDA has grander ambitions, including implementing open data standards and sharing consumer-centric insights. As it collaborates with key industry players like the Home Buying and Selling Group (HBSG), the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Residential Logbook Association, and the UK PropTech Association (UKPA), OPDA’s influence continues to grow.
Maria Harris, the Chair of OPDA, sums it up beautifully, saying: “By harnessing the power of data and fostering collaboration, we have an incredible opportunity to drive innovation, improve decision-making, and create a more transparent and efficient property ecosystem.”
Benefits of Joining the OPDA
Joining OPDA is a gateway to a treasure trove of benefits and deep insights. From rubbing shoulders with firms reshaping the property industry to gaining access to the latest trends in open data and trust standards, the perks are plenty. And let’s not forget the chance to participate in projects that are already shaping the future of property data.
But above all, it’s about making a difference in the homebuying process, together.
Upfront Information: The Key to Confidence
OPDA recognises the importance of providing property data upfront. It’s a shield of protection and a source of confidence for prospective buyers and tenants. Open data sharing lays the foundation for more informed decisions, giving buyers insights into property history, alterations, and disputes.
Ed Molyneux, Founder and CTO of Moverly and a member of OPDA’s executive committee, emphasises the trust factor. He rightly notes that trust is crucial, especially in the conveyancing process. In a whimsical analogy involving Christmas baubles, he underlines how data should be as transparent and connected as the branches on a tree.
The consensus is clear – upfront data sharing can expedite property transactions, enabling buyers and sellers to identify issues quickly and take responsive actions for smoother processes.
A Vision for Improved Home Buying and Selling
Building on the commitments made by OPDA, the HBSG has offered a roadmap for enhancing the home buying and selling experience in the UK. Having collaborated with a wide range of industry experts. Their discussion paper offers insights on how to improve home buying and selling in the UK and recommendations on how to address issues such as the high proportion of transactions that fall through after a property offer has been accepted.
Solutions have also been offered to ‘urgent problems’, such as the need to extend the Stamp Duty Land Tax discount and issues associated with the Building Safety Act 2022. It’s not just wishful thinking; it’s grounded in data and industry expertise.
The focus is on three critical issues:
- The average duration of the buying and selling process (210 days)
- The stress of sales falling through (24%)
- The lack of certainty in late or delayed moves
To boost efficiency and transparency, the HBSG calls for the regulation of property agents (RoPA), the consistent sharing of information, and standardised data. They also propose single digital identity verification and the implementation of leasehold reforms. The ultimate goal is to make home buying and selling a smoother, safer and more predictable process.
Aiming to increase property sector efficiency and transparency, the HBSG have made calls for the regulation of property agents, to supply one source of home-moving truth via the Property Data Trust Framework, the consistent sharing of information to empower property buyers and sellers, and mandated standardised information of vital importance to home buying and selling decisions.
In addition to these, they have signalled a need for the approval of single Digital Identity verification for sellers and buyers via the Department of Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework (DIATF), the transfer of keys to all new owners no later than 1 pm on the day they complete, and the implementation of the leasehold reforms recommended by the Law Commission and announced by the government.
These recommendations are supported with an action plan, highlighting the changes that buyers, sellers and the home moving industry are able to make now. Proposals have also been made for the testing and adoption of standardised products and services, together with revolutionary changes that will require government and media backing. Such proposals include the digitisation of data needed for exchange and completion, which may be achieved through the use of quality platforms such as Inventory Base.
HBSG Chair Kate Faulkner, said, “It’s an incredibly difficult job to secure support and agree on the best way forward for such a diverse industry, but by putting the consumer front and centre, we think we have a roadmap that will work. What we need now is feedback and hopefully support, including testing and piloting new ways of moving home from those that haven’t been involved in the group’s work to date.”
As property professionals, new members are encouraged to be a part of this transformative journey. As an executive member and Operations Director of Inventory Base, Sián Hemming-Metcalfe says: “In an industry where trust can sometimes be a rare commodity, the impact of transparent and actionable data cannot be overstated. It’s not just about cold numbers and dry statistics; it’s about something far more profound – the restoration of trust and confidence in real estate transactions. But this is not solely about innovation.
“It’s about the promise of a more dynamic and trustworthy real estate sector, one that sets a new standard for professionalism and reliability. This is why I am proud to represent property professionals and encourage them to put their best foot forward, join the OPDA and be part of lasting change.”
Inventory Base proudly supports the OPDA in its mission to drive the industry forward and make property data accessible for all.