The adoption of Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRN) presents an opportunity to simplify and speed up the conveyancing process.
Momentum is steadily growing behind the wider adoption of UPRN across the property industry. Currently, the main barriers to adoption are awareness and the availability of using the UPRN through a transaction with all parties.
But a Today’s Conveyancer survey of conveyancing practitioners at the end of 2021 identified that awareness across the conveyancing sector was growing with 65% of respondents suggesting they understood what UPRN are, and of those 85% suggested they would be “useful in providing a single point of focus for data on property.”
However, only 11% of respondents suggested they used UPRN “Every time” or “Often” in the course of a transaction.
In April UPRNs were included in the Buying and Selling Property Information (BASPI) protocol, developed by trade bodies from across the home buying sector to support the digitisation of property information and enable the collation of up front information from consumers. A “single source of truth,” the BASPI has been designed to reduce the huge duplication of information collected in the course of a conveyance and bring it into a single space.
“The idea behind UPRN is to provide greater certainty around the location of property and uniformity of addressing”, says Ellie Player, Head of Geodesys.
“We have incorporated UPRN search into the Geodesys platform for a number of years, alongside postcode and address look up. The Geodesys system works by linking a UPRN to a title number so you have the benefit of either because of how we match them up.
“It’s another step in supporting the industry wide adoption of UPRN which we believe will bring huge benefit throughout the conveyancing process”.
Property portal Zoopla has announced it is heavily investing in UPRN at a recent conference. It believes that by improving data quality around the home buying process, it is possible to reduce fall-throughs and speed up conveyancing.
Ellie adds that from a search point of view UPRN will also provide greater surety of location.
“How many times have you had to provide more information about a parcel of land or check the plan to ensure you’ve included the full boundary of the property?”
“UPRN will map out property locations, including any additional parcels, and ensure the search covers the full outline of the property.”
There is a risk that wider adoption will become a catch-22 situation. The results of the Today’s Conveyancer survey show that wider adoption amongst property lawyers will be dependent on a demonstrable improvement in the conveyancing process, something only achievable if each side of the transaction is using UPRN.
Indeed a number of comments from the survey indicate that UPRN confuses the issue, with some respondents indicating that title numbers are, in effect, unique.
“Title numbers are unique to the conveyancing process. UPRN are designed to help capture data beyond the home moving process, such as emergency response, HMRC and other govt departments, and have the potential to build a “property passport” or “property logbook” as an immutable single source of truth to tie property data to”, says Ellie.
“We must, as an industry, embrace adoption to be an enabler in the digitisation of property data, rather than risk holding back progress and missing this critical opportunity to improve home ownership.”
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