Home Buying & Selling Group sets up working party to look at Property Logbooks

The Home Buying & Selling Group (HBSG) has set up a working party to look specifically at the issue of property logbooks.

Following on from the Hackitt report’s recommendation for a digital record for every building – what Hackitt called a “golden thread of information” – the HBSG is looking at how to provide this in a standard, secure way and how to incorporate it into the new online processes being developed by the property industry.

This comes at a time when all property records are being digitised with many turned into publicly-available, online references. However, data is still highly fragmented and unevenly distributed, with no standardised way of ensuring continuity between property transactions.

A group of residential property logbook companies, who were already HBSG participants, were tasked with establishing a basis on which digital records of property information could be used for home buying and selling, as well as any other residential property related transaction. The companies are Chimni, Etive, PIP and the National Deeds Depository.

Nigel Walley, MD of Chimni who is chairing the group, said: “Property records are increasingly being digitised which is a great opportunity to improve access and sharing of information. However, data is still highly fragmented and unevenly distributed, with no standardised way of sharing electronically or ensuring continuity of data between property transactions. We believe residential logbooks can deliver this.”

The HBSG is looking at data standards, security and integration with the systems being built by other parts of the industry. Their remit includes recommending a process of regulation for providers of logbooks.

The work of the HBSG’S Property Logbook working party dovetails with other HBSG projects, such as the one being led by the Conveyancing Association to establish an industry-standard data schema for’ buying and selling property information’, (known as the BASPI) and the work being done by National Trading Standards on data distributed by portals and agents.

The HBSG has been working to shorten transaction times and improve transparency in residential property. It views logbooks as a key component of this as property data is increasingly digitised.

Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association, said: “It is vital now more than ever that we seek out every opportunity to improve the efficiency in the home moving process for the home mover, for the stakeholders and for the economy as a whole. Prior to lockdown, transaction times could be as much as 20 weeks after an offer had been accepted and the risk of a transaction falling through was around 34%. There is simply not enough resource in the industry to support this amount of waste, let alone the poor consumer outcomes highlighted by Government research and the Competition and Markets Authority report into mis-selling of leasehold property.

“We know that instructing a property lawyer on listing and providing all information upfront results in average transaction times of just six-eight weeks in other parts of the UK. Making property logbooks the norm will make it incredibly straight forward for homeowners to collate and update information during their ownership. Property logbooks must be regulated to avoid the same issues which we had at the beginning of the century with searches which was eradicated by the regulation brought in via the Search Code.”

The participating logbook companies are currently conducting an industry-wide consultation with HBSG members including HM Land Registry, the Law Society, the NAEA and the Conveyancing Association.