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Esther McVey: UK property sector is on the cusp of a digital revolution

Housing Minister Esther McVey will release data held by local bodies to enable the proptech sector to “bring about a digital revolution in the property sector”.

She will allow proptechs to obtain information such as energy performance certificates and the square footage of properties and host a roundtable discussion with 700 proptech firms.

McVey (pictured) will also introduce a national index of all brownfield data, simplifying and improving the quality of brownfield Land Registers to help developers to find brownfield land to build on.

McVey MP said: “We’ve had revolutions in the way that financial services, online banking and transport are provided, turning once unimaginable possibilities into everyday realities.

“Now it’s the turn of the UK property market.

“Whatever homebuyers prioritise, whether it’s the quality of local schools, the probability of getting a seat on a train, or having easy access to leisure facilities, this technology could transform the way we find and purchase homes.

“And new technology will link builders to brownfield sites more easily, enhance how developers engage with local communities, help builders deliver new homes and modernise the way we buy and sell land and houses, cutting the time it takes to get housing from the drawing board to families getting the keys.

“The UK property sector is on the cusp of a digital revolution.

“It’s time to harness new technology to unlock land and unleash the potential of housebuilders in all parts of the country and to revolutionise the way in which we buy homes.”

These new technologies could reportedly allow communities to see models and interactive maps of planned developments and comment on planning applications online.

It hopes to explore financing options to help buyers afford their new home or enable gradual homeownership and receive step-by-step assistance to help them navigate the buying process.

Estate agents and proptech firms welcomed the plans.

Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA Propertymark, added: “We support anything that brings additional land into the planning system and provides extra homes to consumers in a market that is struggling for stock.

“We look forward to seeing the outcome of the minister and her team’s efforts to release more of the local data.”

Michael Stone, founder and chief executive of Stone Real Estate, added: “Any initiative to open up land supply and provide greater transparency within the house building process should be welcomed.

“After all, we’re building 200,000 new homes a year nationally while the reality is that we need to deliver 300,000, so that’s some deficit that needs to be addressed.

“However, whilst the Housing Minister’s announcements today on promoting digitisation and better brownfield site identification will be welcomed, perhaps they should go a step further and start mandating that public land is also utilised more readily.”

Franz Doerr, founder of proptech company flatfair, said that this is welcome news for Britain’s property sector.

Doerr added: “Far too much time, energy and cost is wasted on red tape and admin, and having a better, more comprehensive approach to sharing public data makes perfect sense.

“Above all, we should be encouraging start-ups and innovators to create new products and services that can use information to improve transparency and reduce friction.

“Having the right infrastructure to underpin this is crucial and it is welcome news that the government’s mindset is shifting towards a digital future.”


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