Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence

Memorandum by NLIS (National Land Information Service) Searchflow (DHB 27)

  NLIS Searchflow is a government licensed channel in the National Land Information Service (NLIS).

  Searchflow is a service that facilitates the home buying and selling process through electronic provision of searches. It achieves greater efficiency and certainty than traditional methods by harnessing service-relevant technology.

  The Searchflow Board are supportive of the proposal to bring in HIPs and consider they will do a great deal to improve house buying and selling for the public. However HIPs will only work properly if the information which is to be contained within the HIP is easily accessible to the public and is of a high quality and reliability.

  A key part of the information for the HIP is provided by local searches. We appreciate that this might not be seen by Members of Parliament as the most exciting topic they will ever have to consider in their parliamentary careers, but as one of the leading providers of this information to conveyancers, we would be grateful for the opportunity to explain how NLIS and the channels are a successful public/private partnership which is improving the provision of comprehensive, accurate and timely property information to their constituents.

  Whilst we support the concept of the HIP, there are a number of important issues that those scrutinising the Bill may wish to consider to ensure that the HIP delivers the anticipated improvements to the House Buying and Selling process.

  In particular we would encourage the committee to consider the following issues, as set out in more detail in our response (attached) to the government's consultation paper on the contents of the home information pack:

    —  There is a substantial danger of creating a "grey market" in unreliable search information unless the HIP proposals are carefully constructed.

    —  Insurance is no substitute for buyers for reliable and comprehensive property information which is readily available.

    —  The National Land Information Service (NLIS) facilitates the provision of reliable and comprehensive information for buyers and minimises delays and inefficiencies that existed in requesting and processing searches.

    —  Central and local government need to fully commit to the NLIS initiative to deliver the Home Information Pack (HIP).

    —  The way forward is for Government to encourage private search companies to join NLIS rather than creating alternative methods of obtaining search information.

    —  NLIS should be the provider of search information for the Home Information Pack.

Mark Riddick

Chief Executive

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