HM Land Registry to make home buying easier through digitization

Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

HM Land Registry plans to use more data and digital processing to facilitate the process of buying a home in England and Wales, according to a recently published policy document.

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

The document notes that in 2021, the sale of an average home took 49% more 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 conjunction with other organisations, with all of its sales and purchasing support services provided through its online portal and direct system-to-system connections , including mobile applications. It already accepts e-signed property transfers and mortgages and supports a standard digital identity verification service, so no paper forms are required.

During registration, the organization has put a new system online that will be able to accept almost all types of applications 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 introducing a new case processing system and has introduced a document comparison tool that identifies differences between document versions, saving case workers time.

“After-sales registrations take too long to process and the digitization of our services and working methods still needs to grow,” Chief Executive Simon Hayes writes in the strategy foreword. “We are still building a fully resilient and flexible land registration system in a market where demand is volatile and world events unpredictable.”

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

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