UK government calls for digital revolution in the property sector

Amidst the doom and gloom of Brexit, the UK government today announced changes it believes will revolutionise the property sector. A whole array of information held by local bodies will be released to the UK PropTech prompting hopes of a digital revolution. There is no doubt that the UK property sector is embracing the new Internet era albeit after a relatively slow start. However, the release of additional information could be a game changer.

Additional information to be released

There is no doubt that this new policy will be expanded and extended in the weeks and months ahead. The current plan is to release the following information into the public domain:-

• Compulsory purchase order data
• Energy performance certificates
• Square footage information of properties
• National index of brownfield data

One of the major issues to date when looking to revolutionise the property sector and fully embrace the digital era is the lack of transparency. The release of this new information will give a broader picture of all properties across the UK and simplify comparing and contrasting individual properties with regards to value and rental income. The more information available online the more influence digital services will have thereby reducing costs and simplifying the process.

Local services

Quite rightly, the UK government has pointed to major changes in the way that financial services, online banking and transport are provided in the new online era. Esther McVeigh MP, the housing minister, believes it is now the turn of the UK property market to be digitised. There are high hopes that UK PropTech companies, leading this worldwide sector, will then be able to crossmatch property listings with other local issues such as:-

• Quality of schools
• Transport networks
• Leisure facilities

The ability to look at one property and see the array of services in the immediate vicinity is not a new concept but the added detail will make a major difference. Quite how this will impact traditional real estate agents remains to be seen although just last week we saw the demise of the U.K.’s largest letting agency uPad despite being fully online.

Open access

While the proof will most certainly be in the pudding, this is a very interesting move by the UK government to effectively prompt a more transparent and in-depth UK property sector. In reality much of the information is already available in digital format but not always to the wider public. In many ways this will level the UK property sector playing field and give private investors access to as much information as their corporate counterparts. It should also help to avoid scams which are often based around information not readily available to the public.

Avoiding a race to the bottom

The only downside of shifting more and more information and services online is the potential to prompt a race to the bottom. As we saw with uPad the disrupter was effectively disrupted by the wider market with significant pricing pressure eventually leading to the company’s demise. In reality markets will find their own level, inefficient business models will be found out and we should see a more transparent cost-effective (as opposed to cheap) sector. Time will tell………….

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