15 May 2003

Trade association established for property search organisations

A new trade association has been established to serve the property search industry. The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO) has already had meetings with the ODPM and the CML and will be fully involved in policy initiatives to increase the efficiency of the house purchase process.

CoPSO has six objectives -

  • To be a central representative body to put the views of organisations providing property information reports to Government departments and agencies, Parliament, and other relevant organisations.
  • To be a research and statistical centre, to aggregate and publish statistics, and to provide analysis on the market for property information reports.
  • To be a technical centre providing commentary, guidance and advice on all legal and other regulatory developments of relevance to property information reports.
  • To provide a forum for the exchange of non-competitive information.
  • To promote property search organisations.
  • To establish and enforce a code of practice for the provision of property information reports.

Mark Boleat, the former Director General of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, has agreed to Chair the Council and, through his consulting firm, to manage it on a short term basis. The initial Executive Committee also includes a nominee of each of the six founder members: One Search Direct, Richards Gray, Property Search Agency, Landmark Information Group, STL Professional Services and Sitescope. The Executive Committee will be increased as membership expands.

The Council is currently writing to all organisations that provide property information reports inviting them to join CoPSO. Members will be required to comply with a code of practice which CoPSO is drafting and also to hold adequate professional indemnity insurance.

The Council is establishing contact with relevant associations and government departments and agencies. Its immediate priorities are to become fully involved on the debate on home information packs and on access to local authority and government held data.

Commenting on the establishment of CoPSO, Mark Boleat said–

“Property search organisations have expanded rapidly over the last few years and are now involved in nearly half of house purchase transactions. The sector is now faced with a major public policy issue in the shape of the proposed home information pack. Related to this point are the issues of acceptability by mortgage lenders and access to local authority and central government data. These issues are best addressed by a trade association representing the whole sector rather than by individual companies. The industry needs an effective trade body and CoPSO will meet that need.

CoPSO must quickly become fully effective given the timetable for the various consultation exercises. It will seek to work with other organisations and to provide input into the various policy debates based on hard evidence and the practical experience of members.

We are keen to expand the membership as quickly as possibly so as to be able to speak with greater authority and to draw on the practical experience of a wider range of companies.”

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