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A digital revolution could be on its way to the property technology (PropTech) sector.

Housing Minister Esther McVey says PropTech companies will be able to access local data to help improve the way property and land is bought and sold.

These firms are developing tools to change how developers and builders find and access land.

And they are also exploring new ways to involve local communities in planning new homes.

Transforming how we buy and sell a home

Ms McVey hosted a roundtable discussion of more than 700 participants from the sector this week.

She told them: "We've had revolutions in the way that financial services, online banking and transport are provided, turning once unimaginable possibilities into everyday realities.

"Now it's the turn of the UK property market.

"Whatever home buyers prioritise - whether it's the quality of local schools, the probability of getting a seat on a train or having easy access to leisure facilities - this technology could transform the way we find and purchase homes."

Increasing transparency in property sector

Among the immediate changes announced by the Government is releasing data to increase transparency.

That includes opening up Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) data. PropTech firms could then use that data to find out, for example, a property's square footage or access energy performance certificates.

Meanwhile, developers are always looking for land to build on, and they will soon be able to access a new national index of all brownfield data.

Tools to help home buyers

The UK PropTech sector is a growing part of the property market and potentially worth up to £6 billion. Firms participating in the roundtable discussion have already produced and developed a range of tools for the industry:

  • A project that brings together developers and landowners;
  • Improving community engagement in the planning process;
  • Making home ownership achievable by co-investing in property with its customers.

Proposed new projects include:

  • Commute time calculators for figuring out a journey to work;
  • A mobile app that lets homeowners comment on planning applications;
  • Creating datasets that small housebuilders can access to speed up their developments.

Harness new technology

Ms McVey added: "The UK property sector is on the cusp of a digital revolution.

"It's time to harness new technology to unlock land and unleash the potential of housebuilders in all parts of the country and to revolutionise the way in which we buy homes."

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