HM Land Registry is aiming to complete the first fully digital transfer of a property inside the next year after building three prototypes under its Digital Street programme.
The agency has declared the ambition in its newly published annual report, along with claims of significant progress in its digital transformation and the release of more open data.
The report picks out the progress of the Digital Street programme, which involves a number of technology strands, as one of the highlights of the past year.
It says it has led to the building of three prototypes: a Property Assistant chatbot to help buyers find information before they go ahead with a purchase; an Instant Mortgage app to check Land Registry and other property data sources to offer a list of pre-approved mortgage deals; and a property exchange on the agency’s blockchain, which can be navigated through a smartphone app.
These have prompted its ambition to complete the first fully digital transfer of a property, with a claim that a digitally signed transfer than automatically updates the register would be a “global game changer”.
“Showing that we can successfully and automatically update the register will be a significant proof-point for the Digital Programme and will inform some of the key architectural decisions we’re making over the next year – particularly around the digital register,” the report says.
In April the agency registered the first digital mortgage for the UK, recording a transaction between the Coventry Building Society and Enact Conveyancing for a house in Rotherhithe, south-east London.
The section on the progress of Land Registry’s digital transformation says it has made more than 9,500 changes in its IT infrastructure systems, removing pain points and making processes more efficient.
It has involved the introduction of a new workflow system, integrated with casework systems to manage more than 5,000 applications per day.
The agency is following this up by exploring how robotic process automation (RPA) could help to automate routine processes. It has completed a trial with the Cabinet Office on automating validation and aims to implement it later this year, using RPA to automate data entry and validation checks.
Property info service
It has also developed a ‘Find property information’ service that allows anyone to download a summary of information about a property, and is investigating the potential of service to help people keep their contact details up to date.
The report also highlights the recent launch of the Local Land Charges Register, and the release of more of the agency’s data free of charge. It has made its datasets on commercial and corporate ownership and overseas companies ownership available for free and is aiming to release as much information as it can from the register by 2020.
Chief executive Graham Farrant (pictured) says in an interview in the report: “We also are keen to start work with the Geospatial Commission. We are one of six initial government bodies working together with the new commission to maximise the value of all UK government data linked to location, and to create jobs and growth in a modern economy.
“An open approach to data is a key ambition for us so I am excited about what we can achieve together.”