Discussing the future of the property search services at last week’s Local Search Summit held in Birmingham, Peter Matthew, Deputy Director of the Home Buying & Selling Unit at Communities and Local Government acknowledged, “no one party could do it alone”. Referring to Local Authorities and private search companies, he acknowledged the issues facing each and the importance of finding resolutions to enable both parties to work together for the good of the consumer. He commented that Government’s role was to provide a framework to enable this process and that its directive on access, consultations on charging and the forthcoming removal of insurance went some way to establishing the framework.
Over 150 senior industry experts gathered at yesterday’s Summit, an event hosted by Land Data and the Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO). The event marks a first for the property searches industry bringing together local land charges officers with private search companies.
The mood of the delegates was positive; a willingness to work together and find ways to bridge gaps was evident during the afternoon workshops, with many asking for regular regional focus groups to be set up for further discussion.
Other speakers at the Summit included, Simon Welch, West Bromwich Building Society, Ted Beardsall, Deputy Chief Executive, Land Registry, Nigel Hemmings from Birmingham City Council, STL’s Craig Lamb and Chris Harris from LMS.
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Land Data manages NLIS, which was set up to support local authorities (LAs) and other property information holders in England and Wales in their move from manual to electronic provision of property information services. Through the NLIS hub, users can access information from 410 Local Authorities, national parks, Land Registry, the Coal Authority and water companies, in an electronic format. Land Data became a Community Interest Company in January 2006 in recognition of its commitment to making electronic property search information accessible to the general public and thereby improving the home buying process.
The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO) is the leading trade association for the property search industry. Members provide a range of property information reports including local, environmental, chancel repair, mining, drainage and water data and produce over 2m searches each year. CoPSO’s overall objective is to drive both market and product improvements to deliver the industry’s vision of faster and better informed property transactions.
CoPSO has represented the search industry on the Government’s working groups reviewing the content of Home Information Packs.
In September 2006, CoPSO launched the Search Code incorporating:
The introduction of the Search Code underpins CoPSO’s firm belief that, in the interests of consumer protection, only those search organisations which adhere to prescribed standards should be able to provide searches as part of the home buying process. Search firms providing over 90% of local searches and 100% of environmental searches have already signed-up to the Code, together with large water companies, chancel repair firms and the NLIS channels.