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OPDA calls for next govt to take ‘strong lead’ on homebuying process reform

  • 03/07/2024
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OPDA calls for next govt to take ‘strong lead’ on homebuying process reform
The Open Property Data Association (OPDA) is calling on the upcoming government to take a “strong lead” on reforming the “notoriously sluggish homebuying process”.

The trade body said that “focus, ownership and leadership” on the homebuying process in government should be at the “highest level” such as the Treasury or the Cabinet Office.

An alternative could be for homebuying to be “owned” or led by an independent body or figure such as a housing commissioner, which would have homebuyers and sellers’ interests at heart, drive change and create accountability.

Maria Harris (pictured), chair of the OPDA, said there was “no single department or person in government with overall responsibility for the homebuying journey, nor any holistic policy or strategic plan”.

She continued to say property data sits across multiple government departments, each with their own processes, strategies and approaches to customer access to data.

Alongside this, there have been 16 different housing ministers since 2010.

According to OPDA, less than 1% of property data is currently in an acceptable digital format and the majority of the homebuying process is still paper-based.

The average amount of time to completion currently stands at around 22 weeks, nearly half a year.


Homebuying legislation and review needed

OPDA said it wants new legislation to allow the whole homebuying and selling process to be digitised in the next three years.

It also called for the government to publish its long-awaited Future of Homebuying strategy, which includes a roadmap for public and local authority data to be digitised and expectations for industry to adopt open standards.

The first step in the digitisation process would be converting property data sources and documents to a digital format and making this available to consumers and service providers through open data standards that create trust and shareability.

This would speed up the homebuying process and create transparency for everyone in the chain.

OPDA has created a framework for property data standards that is free and shareable. Those who have adopted the standards have lowered their offer accepted to exchange of contracts timelines to within 15 days.

Harris said: “A well-functioning housing market and a good homebuying experience are fundamental to the financial wellbeing of the nation.

“But these cannot be achieved without wholesale reform of the homebuying process which puts digitisation and shareable data at its centre. The next government must urgently take ownership of homebuying reform.”




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