The DPMSG is necessary – and it deserves the industry’s support

As we’re all acutely aware, there is no such thing as any sort of “Summer slowdown” when it comes to the focus on UK housing, and given the prominent position it holds from both an economic and political perspective, we should always anticipate new announcements, new legislation, new technological advancements, new attitudes towards it.

August has been no different in that regard, and a major focus within our conveyancing sector has been the recent announcement by the Land Registry of its Digital Property Market Steering Group (DPMSG).

For those of you who might have been away on holiday in recent weeks, the DPMSG has been launched as “a new coalition of industry partners…formed to work together and drive crucial transformation in the land and property market”.

You might well have seen that the CA, along with many other organisations – the BSA, CiLEX, CLC, Law Society, SLC, RICS, Propertymark, amongst others – is a member of the DPMSG, and as with all our commitments to such groups we plan to put forward our member’s views on what is needed in the digital “space”, how it will benefit consumers in terms of speeding up the home buying and selling process, and of course how it will benefit conveyancing firms.dpmsg

I would like to address a number of different views expressed about the DPMSG, its intentions, how it fits in with the market, and in particular how it fits in with the other groups already active and established, such as the Home Buying & Selling Group (HBSG).

There has been some criticism of the DPMSG, that it looks like it is somehow competing with groups like the HBSG, that it is seen as an attempt to supersede the works of such groups, to take control, to put an end to some working groups already active, and that it is effectively duplicating the work that has gone on, attempting to sideline it, and shall we say, “take the glory” for itself.

Some see it as a throwback to initiatives from Land Registry such as “Digital Street”, for example, which we might admit had strong ambitions but perhaps wasn’t able to deliver on those, and they wonder whether “control” by the Land Registry is actually the right route to be following, and whether it actually gets us to where we need to be.

Firstly, and this is purely from a CA point of view, though I suspect it is a view held by many other organisations also involved with the HBSG, we certainly do not see this as a competitive entity or an attempt to “wrestle control” from the HBSG.

Quite the opposite – we see the launch of DPMSG as not just necessary, but desirable, particularly given the change that is coming with regards to digital elements of the home buying process, and how we can all benefit from them, particularly in terms of bringing down the time it takes to get from marketing to completion.

These – DPMSG and HBSG – are collaborative groups in support of each other. In fact, at next month’s Conference on this very topic, our Chairs will be Mike Harlow, Deputy Chief Executive of Land Registry and Kate Faulkner OBE who leads the HBSG. Plus, the first person talking to Mike on his new podcast, “Property with a View”, is yours truly and I think it’s fair to say we agree a lot about what needs to be done, and what we need to have in order to improve/speed up the whole process.

The point of the matter is that we have been working together – along with many other organisations – for quite a while, with the HBSG Working Groups (I am Co-Chair of the HBSG and also chair the Removing Barriers to Upfront Information DPMSG working group) providing a range of solutions, particularly digital and technology-focused which will allow us to deliver quicker certainty within transactions, cut the number of fall-throughs, save all stakeholders time, resource and money, and importantly to us, up the profitability for conveyancing firms.

This will not change with the launch of the DPMSG: indeed, it’s our hope and belief that it will allow us to introduce these solutions across the board in a much quicker timeframe. After all, while we currently have these available to use, it is up to individual firms and stakeholders whether they use them or not, and what we really need is the government to mandate in order to get to where we need to be.

You may know that the Land Registry came under the general remit of the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities this year, and it is seen as a key player to move this all forward. By having this group, by working together and continuing to accept the need for groups such as HBSG and the huge amount of work, effort, and support it can provide, we are in a much better place, and certainly closer to that mandation goal.

So, while I understand that for some, the new DPMSG might seem like it is late to the party, that really isn’t the case. Land Registry has already played a major role in this space, and the combined vision it, and the organisations involved, have for DPMSG is certainly worthy of all our attention and can help move us forward even further.

I know the proof of the pudding will be in the eating here, but I’m hopeful and confident that no property market stakeholder will have to wait too long for that first bite.

Beth Rudolf is Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association (CA)

One Response

  1. The following comments are from two BLG member firms:

    “The DPMSG is unnecessary, ultra-vires on the part of HMLR.”

    “I just do not feel that any of these organisations really represent the views of any front-line conveyancers.”

    The following comments are via LinkedIn:

    “So why did I think it was a good idea to go through my pending Land Registry applications the day before the Bank Holiday weekend, I have only checked 28 so far and none have been processed yet, I still wonder where they disappear to. I appreciate new builds are an issue but what about the straightforward purchase I lodged in December? Depressed now…”

    “HMLR spend all their time doing expedited applications so everything else gets pushed back – I have submitted 7 or 8 in the last couple of weeks!”

    And it has been said many times before, why is HMLR embarking on yet another new initiative when there is such a backlog of Land Registry applications?

    In addition, this was published only last week:

    “The Association of Independent Professional Search Agents (IPSA) has urged the Government to halt a move to centralise land charges in a new digital database because of “huge numbers of errors in the system”.

    The project concerns Local Authority Land Charges data being migrated to a central digital register held by HM Land Registry (HMLR).

    The search agents argue that this move has led to “thousands of mistakes in the data being stored and helped create new delays in conducting property searches”.

    In a letter to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, sent yesterday (23 August), IPSA wrote: “IPSA as an organisation, alongside many of its individual members, has tried to work with HMLR to ensure that the digital register is as good as it can possibly be. However, our advice and input has been largely ignored.”

    One can see why it is very difficult to get front-line conveyancers to support the DPMSG at the moment.

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