Time for the industry to focus on the BASPI

Can you remember what you were doing on the 9th December last year? Me neither.

But I can tell you it was a momentous day for all of us, because on that day, the very first vaccination against coronavirus took place in Coventry – Margaret Keenan became the first person to receive the vaccine and, somewhat wonderfully, William Shakespeare was the second. You couldn’t write that.

Just over three months on, and you can certainly see why the old adage about the longest journey starting with a single step is true. Today, children went back to school effectively because 22 million people have now had at least one dose of a COVID jab. And as more people are vaccinated, we’ll hopefully stride back far quicker into normality.

While not wishing to equate what we’re currently working on within the housing market with these life and death decisions, there is a slight similarity I suspect for all of us involved in trying to improve the home purchase/sale process over the years.

Campaigns that we began many years ago have begun to bear fruit in recent years, particularly in areas such as leasehold or the provision of upfront information or the use of technology and digital solutions. Each one pushing us forward until put together they give us a much more efficient and transparent process that can hopefully be completed within a far shorter timescale than we have all become accustomed to.

Just this month, we have made a further step forward with our Buying and Selling Property Information (BASPI) – designed to be that all-important one source of truth when it comes to upfront information covering both Material Facts in Section A and Conveyancing Information in Section B.

For those who are not aware of the BASPI, this is crucial information completed at the point of marketing of the property, intended to be pre-populated by Authority data, accessible prior to an offer being made, accessible to lenders, sent to all parties with the memorandum of sale, and available to the valuer prior to them making their valuation.

The Home Buying & Selling Group (HBSG) agreed on the BASPI dataset which is to be completed by the seller, and we have a version two document with all the form fields available to capture the data. The seller completes it either from their own knowledge or from the relevant Authority data, for the sale of that property. As mentioned, this data can then be used throughout the transaction as that ‘one source of truth’ to all stakeholders – for example, it can be used to complete the estate agent’s material facts disclosure, the solicitor’s TA6, the lender’s lending policy check, and the valuer’s pre-valuation template to prevent additional enquiries and post-valuation queries. For the potential buyer technology can be used to provide an exception summary to make sure that the property is right for them and their intended use and enjoyment – currently in the worst cases it can take up to 20 weeks after offer to establish that.

In essence, it will be a vital cog in the property sale machine and will be able to maximise efficiencies right across the process enabling a huge degree of time-saving on activities which many stakeholders have previously been forced to carry out even if they have been completed multiple times by others.

So, what happens next? Well, we require PropTech companies/firms which run CRM systems, and the like, to add this form in, and to ensure the right questions are asked, the right data is collated, and that it is fully digitised.

This is an important next step because we need to ensure the BASPI is programmed in, and developed, appropriately to enable the data collected to be inter-operable and to identify from the meta-data the provenance of the information so all stakeholders are able to rely upon it, for example, lease details supplied by Land Registry are going to be more reliable than those supplied by the seller.

The BASPI data schema supports all of this, and we want to encourage all stakeholders in the process to communicate with their providers/PropTech partners to add it in. By doing this initially we’ll be able to assess the impact of this augmented intelligence, the summarisation, digital signatures and data import, etc, and how it can improve the home-moving process and the customer experience.

It may sound like I’m attempting to blind you with technology science but the schema does support this, and it won’t be anything that the tech companies and systems aren’t used to integrating.

We now need everyone involved to be making them aware of its availability, and the benefits it can provide the entire home buying and selling process if we can get the BASPI added into their systems.

This is another of those much-needed steps we keep talking about, but it will need buy-in and who better to make the case than everyone single one of us who will gain so much from it.

Today's Conveyancer