Technology and transparency: The key to conveyancing of the future
Jesper With-Fogstrup of ULS Technology looks at how the conveyancing industry can relieve some of the burden from home movers by introducing technology to help keep them in the loop
Whenever people are polled on life’s most stressful experiences, buying or selling a home is always right at the top.
Rather than shrugging this off, or simply accepting that it will always be a cause of some tension, we need to do a much better job within the industry of identifying precisely why it causes so much stress, and what we can do about it.
We have to remember that people rarely buy or sell a home; they simply don’t know what to expect – the process is foreign to them and many don’t even know what ‘conveyancing’ is.
Home movers’ understanding of the conveyancer’s role is also limited, they don’t know what they are going to be doing during the conveyancing process beyond the need to be involved, under law.
Add to this the high value, high risk nature of housing transactions and the raw emotion of leaving the place you call home, and it’s no surprise that home movers often feel the strain.
I am convinced that we can do far more within conveyancing to take the weight of stress off home movers’ shoulders and deliver a simple, comforting experience.
Once the conveyancer is in place, the buyer or seller often feels like they are out of the loop, kept at a distance from how things are progressing. It’s a process that they have to pay for and don’t understand, and worse, they don’t feel like they get anything back from it, which is inevitably going to lead to resentment and frustration.
Undoubtedly a greater level of transparency would go a long way to resolving some of these frustrations.
If we bring the client in and give them a proper insight into not only the work of a conveyancer and its relevance, but also exactly what is happening with their individual case, then we can improve their experience. Conveyancers do a vital, and tough job, but as an industry we don’t do a great job of highlighting this to our clients.
There is more to this than simply addressing a client’s feelings – there can be tangible, practical benefits too.
That greater transparency means that clients know not only when a sale is being held up, but why.
And if they are the cause – perhaps because they haven’t returned a particular document – then it can serve as a useful motivation to clear that task and get things moving again.
Of course, a big question for those of us in the conveyancing world is not just why we should introduce this transparency, but how can we do it. And there can be little doubt that technology has a huge role to play here.
I’ve seen first-hand the transformative impact technology can make when it is implemented in a smart way throughout my career with the likes of CompareTheMarket and HSBC, and the potential to bring that digital focus to the property market was one of the drivers of my decision to join ULS Technology last year.
In the DigitalMove platform, we have a fantastic starting point for that transparency. The system keeps conveyancers, home movers, brokers and estate agents updated on the state of the transaction, and what tasks still need to be tackled before progress can be made.
This is the level of transparency that customers enjoy in other areas of their lives. For example, in something as simple as ordering a pizza, as a customer you can get live updates as to the status of your order – whether the pizza is in the oven, is being built or is on its way, for example.
This level of transparency is the sort of open communication that many home buyers and sellers have come to expect and many more will in the future.
This is only the start, with technology capable of doing far more throughout the conveyancing journey. The fact is that there are all sorts of areas of conveyancing which are reliant on manual processes, but do not have to be.
Conveyancers are experts in what they do, yet they find themselves having to spend far too long carrying out tasks which could be automated.
By introducing the right technology, they can then spend their time where it’s most valuable, meaning that clients not only enjoy a better service, but a faster one too.
There will always be times when a house purchase leaves a client tearing their hair out. But by embracing technology, rather than viewing it with fear and suspicion, we can ensure that this is the exception rather than the rule.
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