Government Plan for ‘Digital Revolution’ of Property Sector
On October 21st Housing Minister, Esther McVey, announced plans to release land data held by local authorities to the public. This is being described as a ‘digital revolution’ as it will allow PropTech companies to display this data. The release will come in two forms. First will be to make local planning authorities’ Compulsory Purchase Order data available, meaning information like energy performance certificates and square footage of a property will be readily available. Second is to introduce an index of all brownfield areas, allowing builders to find development sites. The purpose of these changes will, as McVey puts it, ‘help builders deliver new homes and modernise the way we buy and sell land and houses, cutting the time it takes to get housing’. So, ultimately this looks like it will be a quality of life change for buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords.
So, how will this data be put into action and how can we use them with our investing? The main utilisation will come in the form of resources and services. In terms of resources we have already covered one, in the form of the index of brownfield sites, but there are a few more useful tools they plan to introduce. One of which is an interactive map/model of all planned and current development. This will be useful to us for both our ‘take a ride’ and ‘upwards’ criteria. It will allow us to establish the supply/ demand relationship in an area because we can see if more houses will be hitting the market. It can also tell us if an area is up and coming as it will allow us to look up whether any local amenities or transport links will be added. They will also introduce a commute time calculator. This will make it easier to establish viable satellite towns to big urban cities with high demand. Finally, they also plan to change the way these resources will be displayed, local planning application documentations have historically been in PDF form and hard to get your hands on. They will now introduce a standardised digital format to access all this data.
Next, we’ll look at the services they plan to provide. They aim to set up a platform that allow the public make comments on planning applications online, similar to online banking services. This is just a measure to increase speed of development, so doesn’t have much of an effect on us apart from those of you that are planning large fancy pants deals. They also claim to create step-by-step guides to help speed up the property transaction process. It is unclear how this service will be provided, whether it is in the form of documents or a helpline, but it is stated to include features like exploring finance options and assistance with necessary actions, like documentation, in the buying or selling procedure. Like the other service the only effect his will really have on us is speeding up transactions which is always useful especially when working with difficult prospective deals.
On the whole these all seem like good changes as they will help speed up our work and generally modernise some of the processes. There is a problem though, on the government website there is no indication of when this might be put into place and obviously, we will likely have to wait for the election results to see if it even will. However, these changes benefit everyone so there is a chance it will still go through especially as the property transactions can take a long time and the government is way behind on their housing quota. We will keep you up to date on any changes to this situation and any other announcement the government make, so keep an eye on the website for news as we try to cover anything that affects our investing directly.