What do we hope to achieve?
DigitalMove is a technology project aiming to give home movers the best experience from start to finish.
Andy Weston is the Innovation Director & Co-founder of ULS Technology plc. Andy first conceived of DigitalMove back in 2013. It’s come a long way since then but there’s plenty more to do!
In my previous blog post, I concluded that although throughout the last two decades, we’ve seen many attempts to innovate the home moving process, these have largely failed; and that part of the reason for this is that none of these initiatives have seriously attempted to approach the problem from the customer’s point of view.
So, when we started the DigitalMove project back in late 2015, we decided to change that. We asked ourselves: “What if we reimagined home moving from the customer’s perspective? What would we do differently?”
“Ok, I’ve chosen the property I’d like to buy. I’ve agreed on a price. Now I just want to select my move date (perhaps even tomorrow) then click the magic button that makes it all happen. That’s how Amazon works. Why can’t I buy a house that way?”
It may sound fanciful, but that is how we think it should be done, and getting as close as possible to that experience is what DigitalMove is all about.
Let’s be realistic, we can’t get straight there in a single leap. The process of transferring ownership of a house from seller to buyer – known as conveyancing – is complicated. This process has evolved over hundreds of years and, although there are many ways it can be simplified, it is a tried and tested process and probably doesn’t need to be changed fundamentally. It does, however, need to be made quicker, and much more efficient.
There are three main challenges with conveyancing:
1. Ensuring the buyer is fully informed to make that important buying decision.
2. Ensuring they have the funds to do so.
3. Ensuring all other parties in the chain are equally ready to go.
Informing the buyer
Before a buyer can press that magic ‘Go’ button, they need to know any information that might affect their decision, including the size of any risks they may be taking.
Easier said than done! There is so much to consider about the property: its condition, what can and can’t be done to it, or in it; its location within the local neighbourhood; whether the buyer can actually afford to pay for it, and then maintain it.
Every buyer is different; what’s important to one may be of no concern to another. How do we find all this information quickly, filter it down to what’s important to the buyer, and then present it in a way that’s easy for the buyer to understand, to make decisions?
The existing conveyancing process, when performed well, does a good job of gathering this information, but it takes far too long and is rarely offered to the customer in a way that’s easy to understand.
Solution: We need all the property information that affects buying decisions to be available instantly and in a format that’s easy to digest.
To afford the property, most buyers will need to take out a loan in the form of a mortgage.
There is a wide choice of mortgages available, but the process of getting one takes far too long. Although most mortgage lenders will now give you an indication relatively quickly of whether they are likely to offer you a loan, getting a definite ‘YES’, in the form of a firm mortgage offer, still takes weeks! Waiting for mortgage offers to come through is one of the most critical delays affecting home movers.
Solution: We need mortgage offers to be instant so that a buyer knows straight away whether they can proceed with their purchase.
Once the buyer is ready, with all checks completed, fully informed, and with finance in place, there is still the chain to worry about.
Most home movers find themselves in a chain of other buyers and sellers, where each needs the money from their sale to go toward their purchase. The upshot is that no one can proceed until everyone is ready.
Solution: The only real solution is for all parties in the chain to follow a common highly efficient process.