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In August 2018, the All-of-Government Service Innovation Lab (DIA) led a collaboration with Auckland Council, Land Information New Zealand (Valuer General), Tauranga City Council, Wellington City Council and Whangarei District Council to explore the Notice of Sale (the Notice) process as part of the ‘selling and buying a property’ life event.

For more information about life events, see Service design tools.

This group believes that there are a range of possible solutions to improve the notice: for the benefit of people selling and buying property, their agents (ie real estate agents, solicitors, conveyancers), local authorities and government agencies teams. From the perspective of the team at the Lab, this was another opportunity to work with local government and identify potential reusable components that could be developed and made available for other uses or leveraged from other work and applied to the notice work.   

What is the notice of sale and why is it important?

Buying and selling a property is complicated transaction that requires information to be exchanged between a number of parties and if errors are made it has consequences for property ratings and valuations. This can lead to stress and have financial implications, particularly for the property buyer.

The Notice acts as a conduit of sales information in the property transfer process and is a legal requirement that must be supplied to a Local Authority as part of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002. This is typically done by the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer.

Currently there are issues with data quality this can include missing sales, inaccurate data and needing more information beyond the current notice rules to complete tasks. The intention is that improvements in data quality will improve the efficiency of process. This would make the process quicker and assist in increasing trust in data and process integrity, and ensure confidence for property owners supporting satisfying compliance requirements. 

What did we explore?

We sought to understanding the big picture associated with notice of sale and where it fits within the life event of selling and buying a home. Together seek to understand the desired outcome from different people involved to identify opportunities to achieve these outcomes.

The work was completed in three parts, a current state review with the Wellington-based group members, a design intensive in Auckland (13-16 August) followed by the write up of the findings of both the review and the design intensive. During the three days of the intensive we covered:

Day 1: Gather – Outline the complex problem, goals sought, audiences involved and their motivations

Day 2: Define – Assess problems, opportunities and constraints, themes

Day 3: Ideate / Visualize – Scenarios for our audiences and how we might make change

The intensive is based on Google Ventures Design Sprint and a logic mapping flow model developed by Dr Hazel Bradshaw from the Service Innovation Lab.

The goal of this work was to help the group of interested parties identify a path forward to improve the notice process. This helps scope future design work that would explore the opportunities in more depth and ascertain their desirability from a user perspective; test viability from a business sustainability perspective; and understand feasibility from a technical perspective.  

What we found?

Three problems were identified by the group as being important to solve for our primary audiences:

  1. As a solicitor, I have a problem with providing accurate and complete information to councils about the property being sold, transferred or that has a changed location address and Local Authority, and about the property owner.

  1. As a council administrator, my team leaders and I have a problem with the large amount of manual processing to complete the input of the notice of sale. 

  1. As a solicitor the problem is I don't know all the triggers for the Notice of Sale and its importance to rates and valuations.

The group identified a range of ideas to fix these and for problems one and two a possible solution to better reuse the data we currently collect was explored further.

The idea behind this possible future state is that much of the data required to action what is currently called the ‘Notice of Sale’ process is captured within the Sales and Purchase Agreement or through the Transfer Instrument. There are different triggers for this process, which is actually the process of changing the ownership of a rating unit.

Rather than expecting each person in the process chain to perform manual data entry then we could imagine a process where the data is kept as electronic data and systematically pushed through the required states of a workflow. Ideally this would satisfy the legislative requirements while achieving the goal of improved data quality and improved trust in the process.

For problem three, ideas to fix these problems involved improving the communication between Councils and Solicitors and rules and data validation flags to help select the correct process to use for solicitors. The group believe that these ideas could be developed collectively or individually; the consensus amongst group is that they are going to start early engagement between the primary customers, Councils and Solicitors, as a prelude to any successful solution. The data reuse solution would need the Lab to lead a discovery to investigate possible solution in more detail to test its viability, feasibility and desirability.

A report detailing the work called ‘Exploring the Notice of Sale process’ is available here.

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Related Links

Auckland Council

Land Information New Zealand

Tauranga City Council 

Wellington City Council 

Whangarei District Council

Local Government (Rating) Act 2002

Utility links and page information

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