Wednesday, 30 October 2013

'Spookmap’ launches on Promap Labs for Halloween

Things have become a little spooky over at Landmark Information Group’s Promap Labs portal as Halloween approaches!  Ghosts have taken over the Promap View tool and created a ‘Spookmap’ of a particularly eerie town. The map shows the ‘risk of bewitchment’, presence of ‘ectoplasm’ and ghost sightings!

A competition has been launched to create a name for this spooky city. All submitted ideas will automatically be entered into a prize draw to win a Lego Haunted House set, worth £149.99.  To enter visit – entries close by 11:59pm on Friday 1 November.

Carole Ankers, Product Development Director, Landmark Information Group said, “The ‘Spookmap’ competition is a bit of fun for Halloween and we look forward to receiving many entries.  Behind this however lies an important reminder that for any land or property development, it is important to undertake research into the history of the plot in question.  Historic maps can provide a wealth of information on past activities that may impact a development so it’s better to analyse this upfront, rather than be haunted by any findings as a project progresses! ”

Also featuring on the Promap Labs portal is access to the new Promap service, which enables users to export Ordnance Survey (MasterMap) detailed maps for use in CAD or GIS software using multiple browsers*, Mac or mobile devices.   More details can be found here:

With over 25,000 users, Landmark’s Promap service is used by surveyors, architects, property and land developers, builders, engineers and industry professionals that require instant access to Ordnance Survey maps and related digital mapping data.   It also provides access to 3D models, height data, aerial photography and geo-data, including environmental, planning and geological reports to identify potential site issues.

For more information: visit:, read the Landmark blog, follow the team on Twitter, subscribe to the YouTube Channel or connect with via LinkedIn

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Landmark Information Group hires eight young apprentices

Landmark Information Group has appointed eight apprentices to join its 430-strong workforce. Following an extensive interview and selection process, the apprentices will all be undertaking a 12-month Landmark apprenticeship programme designed to equip them with the skills necessary to progress in the industry.

Five of the appointments were made in partnership with the apprenticeships provider QA Apprenticeships, and are designed to combine employment with government funded training. Two were made through Exeter College and one was made through the provider BPP.

Apprenticeships form a vital part of the Government's plans for economic growth and education reform to provide greater opportunities to young people. For each apprentice, the scheme therefore provides a structured framework to learn skills that will launch them into the world of work. 

Jay Cardona-Martin and Farouq Sulaiman are undertaking a QA Apprenticeship in Professional Sales, Sarosh Khalid is undertaking a QA Apprenticeship in Business while Jack Shepherd and Daniel Butler are taking a QA Apprenticeship in IT Systems & Networking. Emily Stephens will be working in the Accounting team and Elliot Crawford and Todd Allen will be also working in IT. All of the apprentices will receive on the job training as well as dedicated training courses provided by QA Apprenticeships, BPP and Exeter College. There will be regular assessments and feedback sessions, allowing the apprentices to develop within the industry. The eight apprentices will be paid a full time salary and will be given the same extensive opportunities as any other member of the Landmark Information Group team.
Jack, Daniel, Elliot and Todd will receive a Diploma in ICT Systems and Principles. Emily will receive her AAT level 2 qualification. Jay and Farouq will receive a Diploma in Sales and Sarosh will receive a Diploma in Business Administration.

Greg Bryce, Commercial Director at Landmark Information Group, said: “The interest we had in these positions, coupled with the high calibre of the candidates, demonstrates the extent to which apprentice schemes are an increasingly important way for young people to get their careers off to a flying start. We’re delighted to have Jack, Daniel, Jay, Farouq, Emily, Elliot, Todd and Sarosh on board and part of the team. All eight were highly impressive throughout the selection process and above all demonstrated a hardworking and proactive attitude. We look forward to helping them grow their careers at Landmark.”

Dee Fox, Recruitment & Employment Manager at QA Apprenticeships, added: “We are very pleased to welcome Landmark Information Group and their QA Apprentices onto our award-winning programme. Apprenticeships have a key role in the Government’s renewed focus on employability and employer needs in mainstream education. It is great to see an employer like Landmark making such a positive move for their future by taking control of their staff development and training.”


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Conveyancing and Fraud

"Having worked with the mortgage industry for many years developing system-based anti-fraud controls, in particular mitigating valuation risks, the latest area of our research and development programme extends naturally to the area of conveyancing-based risk. 
With an appetite for lenders to apply greater rigour to the entire application verification process, it is important to ensure that appropriate checks are being undertaken at every key stage of the process – from application, through to valuation and conveyancing, prior to completion. Additionally we must ensure that systems are linked to automate as much of this joined-up analysis as possible.
The current workflow for a mortgage application means that by the time a solicitor is instructed, lenders will have already reviewed the loan application and granted the loan in principle. There are however a number of due diligence safe guards undertaken at the point of conveyancing to further limit exposure to risk or potential frauds and our vision is to deliver a seamless system that automatically analyses risk at each stage of the transaction.
Anti-Money Laundering
As well as reviewing a number of warning signs that may suggest a suspicious transaction – such as whether the legal professional has met the client face to face, if the deposit is being paid by a third party, or left over monies from the transaction are being paid to an external party – applying the requirements from the CML Handbook, in addition to undertaking Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks should help towards identifying fraudulent cases.
Whilst legislative AML guidance exists, there is no benchmark to ensure one AML service is comparable to the next and no specific governance in place to ensure that all parties in a transaction comply with the regulations. Plus, there is no easy way to check if an AML audit has been carried out by each professional in the transactional chain. As such, this leaves gaps in the process and makes it potentially possible for fraudsters to take advantage of the system.
For example, a fraudster may attempt to beat an electronic AML check if they are providing the correct information regarding another person’s identity and have false documentation that incorporates their own photo. It would then be entirely down to the lending organisation to identify other information disclosed in the application that appears to be out of place and therefore raise an alarm to the appropriate parties.
Identity Fraud
Unfortunately, the fraudulent use of identity data is on the increase. The UK’s fraud prevention service, CIFAS, released its ‘FraudScape Bulletin’ in August, which backed-up this very point.
The half-yearly insight into the latest fraud-related trends identified that of the 113,980 cases recorded for the first half of 2013, two out of every three frauds (66%) were as a result of identity theft.
This compares to application fraud (at 18%) and misuse of facility (at 15%). In fact, in the previous year, CIFAS confirmed that over 150,000 cases had an identifiable victim illustrating the true scale of this problem.
When it comes to cases of identity fraud that lenders and conveyancers need to be aware of, typical mortgage cases include examples such as unencumbered fraud. This involves someone attempting to access funds using a property that has no mortgage linked to it. So, this could be an empty property, is part of a deceased person’s estate or perhaps has an absent landlord. The perpetrator, using false identification, seeks to access a low-LTV product and hopes to keep under the radar by applying for a low-risk mortgage, using identification that matches those on the deeds of the property in question.
While the Law Society provides practice notes that offer guidance on how conveyancers can protect themselves against such risks, we are also working with nominated Compliance Officers for Legal Practice (COLPs) within conveyancing firms to assess ways in which the due diligence and AML checks can be automated and integrated earlier in to the risk management analysis process.
By eliminating the loopholes that fraudsters are exploiting we believe that a joined-up approach that electronically evidences the outcome from the varying AML suppliers is an important step forward. Removing paper-based searches and automating the entire process will provide greater assurances earlier in the process.
Alerting Tools
In addition, we are working with a number conveyancing panel managers and third party risk management firms to create new alerting tools that automatically analyse applications at each stage of the process – from applicant, valuation, to legal completion – to provide integrated risk management that systematically checks for discrepancies at every step of a mortgage transaction and links the professionals involved to further guard against 3
rd party involvement.
Based on the latest figures from CIFAS, it would seem that fraudsters appear to have the brazen ingenuity – and downright fearlessness – to continue to deceive lenders by hiding behind stolen identities, and therefore we must continue innovating with new alerting tools and technology innovation that prevents as many attempts to defraud as possible.
As technology continues to evolve, we believe that the tide will start to turn as fraudsters have ever fewer loopholes to exploit due to transactions being made more transparent and key data intelligence being shared from one professional to the next involved in the property transaction."

Richard Groom, Product Development Director, Landmark Information Group

As published in the September edition of Mortgage Finance Gazette magazine

Friday, 18 October 2013

Landmark Information Group Signs Deal to Provide Site-Specific Environmental Risk Reports for Sites in Australia

We are pleased to announce a partnership agreement with Melbourne-based Spatial Vision to provide their specialist Environmental Risk Assessment report, CheckSite, to the UK market.

CheckSite, which will be available through Landmark’s Envirocheck International Data Collection service, delivers site-specific data to consultants, developers and property purchasers, enabling them to carry out environment risk assessments for sites in Australia. Access to this service will save clients valuable time and money and will enable the production of professional reports detailing any potential risks.

David Mole, Business Development Director, Landmark Information Group said: “We are very excited to announce this new partnership with Spatial Vision. Until now, it has been an extremely time consuming and often expensive process for UK-based consultants to source site-specific environmental and historical information for sites in Australia, meaning that often sites and properties may have been purchased without having thoroughly investigated potential environmental risks. CheckSite provides a fast and cost effective solution and we are expecting strong interest.”

The ability to order Landmark’s Envirocheck for sites in Great Britain will become available to Spatial Vision’s customers in the very near future.

Glenn Cockerton, Managing Director of Spatial Vision, commented: “Spatial Vision welcomes the agreement between Landmark and Spatial Vision. It represents an association which will benefit CheckSite in Australia enormously as we continue to develop and expand the service throughout the country.”

Mark Milner, CEO of Landmark Information Group, commented: “A key focus for the business is on expanding our reach into new markets. An effective way of doing this is by partnering with companies such as Spatial Vision, which have an established footprint in their local market.”

CheckSite draws together over 30 authoritative data layers from 12 organisations and delivers the information ready to use map-based reports. CheckSite comprises a suite of four reports; a site report, an environmental report, a historical report and a geology and groundwater report.

For more information, or to order a CheckSite report, visit or telephone: 0844 844 9952.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Landmark gets workforce moving with participation in Global Corporate Challenge

Employee participation in largest corporate health initiative of its kind reaffirms workplace engagement

Nearly 100 employees from Landmark Information Group, the UK’s leading provider of land and property search information have completed the 16-week Global Corporate Challenge (GCC). This is the largest corporate health initiative of its kind, and for Landmark forms a cornerstone of its commitment to supporting employee welfare and improving the workplace health and wellbeing of its staff.

The Global Corporate Challenge advocates the benefits of adopting a more active lifestyle, and is designed to appeal and be accessible to every employee, regardless of age, gender, fitness level, state of health, profession or geographic location. Intended to boost levels of workplace connectedness and encourage teamwork, the resulting impact on employee engagement, job satisfaction and productivity can have an ongoing positive impact on the business.  

At Landmark the participants were grouped into 14 teams, with each employee given two GCC Pulses - a 3D accelerometer that uses the same motion sensing technology found in smartphones to accurately track daily activity. Every employee was encouraged to record their daily activity levels via the GCC website or mobile apps, and the more active a team, the more instant rewards they receive; including performance statistics, personalised motivational results videos, trophies and certificates.

Over the 16-week period, Landmark employees collectively covered a total distance of 76,453 km (almost 120 million combined steps), and expended a total of 4,816,558 calories - the equivalent of burning off 10,034 large burgers, 29,688 glasses of red wine and 19,205 slices of cake.

However the results have been even more far reaching, with over three quarters of employees (76%) reporting that their increased activity levels had become a habit and 73% saying that they had a better understanding around how to lead a healthier lifestyle. There has also been a massive 80% increase in the number of employees now undertaking 30-minutes of planned physical exercise four or more times a week following the conclusion of the challenge. 

Julia Lovell, HR Director at Landmark Information Group, commented: “We are fully committed to investing in the health and wellbeing of our workforce, and it’s been great to see the extent to which GCC’s scientific approach helps increase employee performance, productivity and positive engagement.  70% of Landmark’s participants now meet or exceed the 10,000 step recommended daily activity level, vs 11% pre-GCC; 91% said the GCC has had a positive impact on their relationship with exercise, and 79% of employees reported that the GCC had helped them take more personal accountability for their own health.”

Julia continues: “Whilst the initial challenge is over, all team members now have 12-month access to the GCC website and additional initiatives such as GCC nutrition assessments and advice, individual challenges, walking route mapping, 'meeting on the move' planner and energy management. Furthermore, being involved in GCC has had the added benefit of supporting the chosen charity UNICEF.”

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Buy-to-Let Boom

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Buy-to-Let market has recorded a five year high following a buoyant quarter from April to June, whereby lenders advanced 40,000 buy-to-let loans worth in excess of £5bn. Year-on-year, the number of landlord mortgages has increased by 19%, while the value of such loans increased by a significant 31% - with loans in the same quarter of 2012 worth £3.9bn.

These statistics paint a clear picture of how buy-to-let lending has become an area of remarkable growth for the mortgage industry, while residential loans struggle to match the steep upwards trajectory. In addition, with the Bank of England confirming that interest rates will stay low for a further three years, we anticipate that the popularity of buy-to-let will continue to grow as investors look for more attractive returns via rental property, in place of cash savings.

Taking all this in to consideration, we do need to remain mindful that where there is a boom, it also carries an increased level of risk, as unscrupulous individuals may look to capitalise on the availability of such products.

In particular, with the FCA imposing universal income verification checks on all owner-occupied mortgages, and the demise of self-certified loans, lenders must remain extra vigilant towards misuse of buy-to-let mortgage products. The reason for this is that as individuals look to circumvent any authorisations imposed on owner-occupied loans, they may look elsewhere to instead fraudulently gain access to mortgage products for which they may otherwise not qualify.

This issue, known as ‘let-to-live' is becoming a growing concern. With the increasing availability and take-up of buy-to-let mortgages, lenders must take steps to ensure they have measures in place to analyse cases that match a predefined risk profile and halt any attempts at accessing funds without proper affordability checks.

We are already working with a number of lenders who have integrated let-to-live alerts into their Q-Guard risk dashboard. By creating the ability to electronically assess any application that meets a set risk profile, lenders can automatically identify any transaction that is outside of its lending policy and act accordingly."

Richard Groom, Product Development Director, Landmark Information Group