Land Registry's new computer offers fast facts
By DON LYONS
THE computer generation has finally arrived at the Land Registry.
No longer will estate agents and their clerks have to conduct a manual search to find the owners of property located in the urban areas of Hong Kong.
Now with the press of a key stroke, they instantaneously will be able to retrieve a wealth of information detailing the ownership of a property in Hong Kong as well as a host of other pertinent information.
''We have been talking about some sort of system like this for a long time,'' said Isabel Michie, residential director for First Pacific Davies (FPD). ''Really it's a Godsend for finding out this vital information.'' According to Ms Michie and other estate agents, ownership searches are a vital part of any estate agency business. The say they are inundated with requests from people wanting to know all manner of information about a particular property.
''All the registration of ownership is under the control of the Government,'' said Ms Michie.
''So knowing who the owner is of a property is vital. We search for ownership all the time.'' In some cases, estate agents are approached by prospective buyers who want to research a particular property. Researching the ownership is a fundamental fact of life for estate agencies. In fact, legions of clerks are routinely hired and despatched to do land searches.
Unfortunately, getting an up-to-date list of ownership from the land registry is impossible. There are so many property transactions in Hong Kong that the list is out of date by the time the most current list is tabulated.
But now, thanks to automation, accessing the information is not only instantaneous but, equally important, the information is up to date.
According to Land Registry official Anders Lau, this Direct Access Service (DAS), which is slated to open in mid-September, will target estate agents, surveyors, accounting and search firms as well as lawyers.
Users will be able to access current particulars of a property as well as a more detailed historical summary.
Typical information which will be available include the nature of the deed, the day the property deal was signed as well as the day of registration.
Users can access the information by address, by flat description, by street name and number, by floor description, by development name such as Tai Koo and by lot number.
Of note, said Mr Lau, was that to date the data bank includes a listing of some 900,000 properties.
According to Mr Lau, it only takes one day for the information to be inputted into the system.
Hooking into the system is as easy as having a modem and a PC in your home or office. There are actually four routes into the computer system including three dial-up lines as well one leased line connection.
The Land Registry will charge $5,000 to process the application and cover its administration costs.
There is also a charge to get connected to the IBM network depending on the type of connection.
According to Mr Lau, the cost of tapping into the network could cost as much as $40,000.
At the moment, the Land Registration Office has plans to start of with 150 subscribers in September with Mr Lau saying that the numbers could quickly jump to well over 300.
At the moment, the Land Registry handles about 7,000 title searches a day with about 200 people coming to visit their offices in Admiralty every day.