If you’ve been keeping an eye on HM Land Registry this summer, you may already have spotted ‘10 things to love about us’ featuring the highlights from their Annual Report and Accounts for 2018/19. In today’s blog, Advantage, experts in Structural Defects Warranty, takes a look at each of these highlights as we share our key take-aways…
1. THEY REGISTERED 180,354 MORE HECTARES OF LAND LAST YEAR, WORTH £19 BILLION
Land can serve multiple purposes, for many people, but the owner may not always be clear. That is why, since the first title was created in 1863, there has been an ambition to register the entire land mass of England and Wales. Today, more than 25.5 million property titles are registered and we have reached 86.6% registration of England and Wales. In 2018/19, the Land Registry completed 108,074 first registrations, which equates to 180,354 hectares of land with a value estimated at more than £19 billion. Comprehensive registration is a vital component of meeting the demands of one of the most highly sought-after property markets in the world.
Advantage’s view: We recently wrote about why building more new homes is more important than maintaining existing housing stock. In a bid to meet the nation’s housing needs, it’s vital that suitable land can be used for new developments, rather than being overlooked and neglected. Establishing ownership of land is potentially the first step in this process.
2. THEY ADOPTED A NEW SINGLE NATIONAL AND DIGITAL WAY OF DOING BUSINESS
This year, the Land Registry have defined what their new operation looks like and say that they now know the resources it needs and the functional teams it will comprise. With all the planning complete they are now building the operations function of tomorrow, enabling them to be an expert and resilient organisation that can cope with fluctuations in demand while still delivering a consistently high-quality service to their customers.
Advantage’s view: We’ve seen similar quite rapid progress from HMRC, moving towards a more efficient digital way of working and we welcome changes which mean that applications should be dealt with more quickly by the Land Registry.
3. THEY LAUNCHED A NEW REGISTER
The Land Registry’s Local Land Charges (LLC) service went live in July 2018, providing customers with live LLC searches as part of the conveyancing process, simplifying the home buying process. Since Warwick District Council became the first local authority to transfer its data to the new register, they have brought a further five on board. They are now working with PropTech companies to explore how this transformed and cleansed data can add even greater value to the property market and the wider economy.
Advantage’s view: Having seen the new register implemented in Liverpool (near our Warrington HQ) and in London (near our Horsham office), we’re interigued to see how soon the Land Registry will bring more local councils on board. We’ll be watching the new register roll out with interest.
4. THEY MADE DIGITAL MORTGAGES A REALITY
They rolled-out their ‘Sign your mortgage deed’ service in April 2019 to a range of high-street lenders with millions of customers, making it faster and simpler to remortgage a property. The digital service enables a paperless end-to-end remortgage application and approval process. Eighteen mortgage lenders including Nationwide, HSBC, NatWest and Santander have signed up. The Land Registry’s work on this reflects the increasing use of digital signatures and online mortgage applications in the mortgage market.
Advantage’s view: We believe that offering a faster and more streamlined online remortgaging service will continue to prove popular with clients and is another sign that the Land Registry is moving with the times.
5. THEY USED BLOCKCHAIN TO SIMULATE THE FIRST DIGITAL TRANSFER OF A PROPERTY IN THE UK
This year, their ground-breaking research and development project Digital Street successfully simulated the digital transfer of a real property, utilising blockchain. The prototype ran a real transfer of a semi-detached house in Gillingham, Kent, alongside the conventional paper-based process, to demonstrate a digital transfer. They worked in parallel with the buyer, seller, conveyancers and bank to simulate the exact transfer digitally. They then used blockchain technology to record the transfer securely. They proudly presented their work at the World Bank conference, securing the interest of other land registries who are experimenting with blockchain projects to work with them to find the best use for the new technology.
Advantage’s view: While we won’t be quitting our day jobs providing structural warranties to become ‘blockchain investors’ and we do feel that cryptocurrency has been excessively hyped as a short-term investment in recent years, we’re much more interested in the role it’s likely to play in property transactions in the coming years. We’re pleased to see the UK Land Registry leading on this.
6. THEIR DATA CONTINUES TO FUEL THE GROWING DIGITAL ECONOMY
The Land Registry hold some of the most valuable location intelligence in the world. They are taking a leading role with the Geospatial Commission in linking it with multiple data sources to unlock the huge amount of economic value in geospatial data. They are one of six national geospatial data organisations, collaborating with the commission to establish standards and methods to combine geolocated data. This will improve its usefulness in the property market and will also provide an important resource for commercial and public services.
Advantage’s view: This is another area where the Land Registry is clearly positioning itself for the future, providing a rich source of geospatial data.
7. THEIR THIRD COHORT OF PROPTECH INNOVATORS JOINED GEOVATION
They continue to support PropTech (property technology) start-ups through their Geovation programme. Their joint initiative with Ordnance Survey continues to drive and encourage innovation and collaboration, utilising their combined location and property data. Since October 2017, they have invested £160,000 of grant funding in 14 PropTech companies who have raised more than £6m of third-party investment. This year they are supporting DronePrep, Winston, Property-Markets and RenKap.
Advantage’s view: Perhaps unsurprisingly, we welcome the Land Registry’s investment in the property technology companies of the future. Again this shows a commitment to innovation and collaboration.
8. THEY EMPOWER THEIR EXPERT PEOPLE
The Land Registry’s future success rests on the commitment, integrity and expertise of their team. Therefore, they want every colleague to feel valued and respected for who they are and how they can contribute to their hugely responsible and ambitious task. They want a diverse workforce with an inclusive culture that has a strong sense of shared values. This year they replaced their recruitment and selection processes with a more open, fairer and inclusive approach which places emphasis on the candidate fit with the role, based on a holistic view of their experience, skills, behaviours and strengths. With career and training paths across all key professions, running from entry level through to senior management, they are attracting and nurturing some of the best talent across the public and private sectors.
Advantage’s view: We’re firm believers that investing in fantastic staff and then, once you’ve hired the best, continuing to invest in their training, providing exciting opportunities for the future, is absolutely vital in order to build a thriving business or organisation. In short, we believe in empowering our expert people, too!
9. THEY CREATED THE HASHTAG #WEAREHMLR
The voices of those working at The Land Registry have been heard and a healthy dialogue has flourished with the Chief Executive and other senior leaders. Their innovative and inclusive approach to internal communications gained them national recognition and they were honoured to be finalists for the Employee Engagement Awards 2018 and winners at the UK Employee Experience Awards 2019. Over the last year, they have published blogs to raise awareness of mental health issues and support a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. They communicate personal stories to encourage colleagues to find confidence in themselves and their abilities, regardless of ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender, disability, age or mental health status.
Advantage’s view: Again, we don’t think it’ll surprise you to hear that we heartily endorse supporting staff and creating an inclusive environment. We feel this is all in line with the Land Registry’s broad aim of modernising and creating a positive culture.
10. THEIR COLLEAGUES RAISED £94,000 FOR CHARITY
From across their 14 office locations, staff at the Land Registry have taken part in a range of activities and events and in the last year raised more than £77,000 in support of local and national charitable causes and over £17,000 worth of non-cash donations such as blankets, food and toys. They have continued and sustained support for national initiatives such as International Women’s Day and mental health awareness, as well as causes such as bereavement, animal welfare, cancer awareness, homelessness and lifesaving.
Advantage’s view: Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that we’ve been raising funds for The Whitechapel Centre (Merseyside’s leading homelessness charity) in recent months and like many independent businesses, we agree that it’s important to support charitable causes that are close to your heart. We’re pleased to see so many other local businesses and organisations doing the same.
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Want to learn more? Contact one of our structural defects warranty experts today to discuss your requirements on 0845 900 3969