Innovation, integration and incremental gains key to speeding up property transactions

tmgroup 200The latest tm:tv session on ‘Property Transactions and Data’ brought together a panel of experts from across the industry to discuss how data could be better utilised across the chain to make a real difference to the home buying and selling process, both now and in the future.

The panel, led by Paul Albone, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at tmgroup, included:

  • Eddie Davies – Deputy Director of Digital Services, Land Registry
  • Lee Richards – Operations Director, CDS
  • Rob Hailstone – CEO, Bold Legal Group
  • Sarah Sargent – Head of Residential, Lupton Fawcett
  • Tom Lyes – Director of Engagement, Lawyer Checker

The panel first and foremost discussed the role of data within the transaction and how all parties must move forward together to make a real difference to the home buying and selling process, as Rob Hailstone commented: “We all know that every property transaction can only move as quickly as the slowest link in the chain. That’s why it’s paramount that any initiatives and progress in the use of property data is done in such a way as to bring everyone along on that journey, for everyone to benefit in the longer term. As a cottage industry spanning over 4,000 firms, that poses quite a challenge, particularly as many only handle a small amount of conveyancing work and are happy to do things “the way they’ve always been done.”

With so many stakeholders involved, it’s no wonder that a “one size, fits all” approach has and continues to fail in the property industry, and it quickly became clear that a strategy of incremental gains was key to longer term success, as Tom Lyes confirmed: “When we take an in-depth look at what’s been successful so far, there’s a definite trend in marginal gains. It’s not about who is creating the next “iPhone” of the property industry and shaking things up, it’s instead about the players who’ve entered the market focusing on solving a very specific problem. For example, how Thirdfort have reimagined the use of data in digital ID checks and source of funds. It’s also true of Blockchain, a word that still scares a lot of people, but when it is used in such a way as to bring data together into a single version of the truth for different parties to access, it’s suddenly not so complex (or scary) and people begin to see the immediate benefits.”

Beyond this, the pandemic has also encouraged positive change across the industry, as Lee Richards reflected: “Working with all of the various Local Authorities has always meant that we’ve had over 300 processes in place for obtaining the data our clients need from different portals. But Covid-19 has changed all that. A lot of councils have already switched to making their data available digitally, or offered up Teams or email communication in order to give us the data we need, without someone physically visiting their offices, and this in turn has helped to make our processes far more efficient.”

There’s also success to be had in providing choice to the market, as Sarah Sargent commented: “I started in industry 20 years ago and sadly haven’t seen much progress in that time, partly as it’s been proven time and time again that one solution driven by one central provider just doesn’t work. In an industry with over 4,000 firms, we need multiple providers offering choice, letting firms make decisions on the data solutions they want to bring into their business, so we can move forward step-by-step – without expecting everyone to overhaul their entire working processes in one fell swoop. For this to be successful however, we need these systems to be able to talk to one another, as well as be certified as solutions we can trust, so as not to risk getting sued further down the line.”

As Paul Albone continued: “Over the last over 5 years, and even more so in the last 12 months, there have been more and more digital services emerging in our space, but the challenge continues to be how you join them all up to create a seamless experience for property professional across the chain. Integration will be key to the success of such initiatives, but as an industry we have yet to realise its full potential.”

Yet this progress must come from individual providers, as Eddie Davies said: “It’s no secret that individual businesses are far more agile and capable of innovation than Government. A key example of this is in the way DocuSign and Adobe offer digital signatures in their suite of offerings, compared to HM Land Registry only being able to offer a digital mortgage signature for a specific use. I think it would be detrimental to the industry for a centralised system to be created that curbed the ability and appetite for businesses to continue to innovate. This process would benefit from more structure however, and so moving forward, I feel the Government needs to be clearer on setting standards on what the industry needs, before it will be down to the individual providers to create and offer solutions to the market.”

What do you think about the use of data in the property transaction? Could it be improved? What are your visions for the future? Find out what else our expert panel had to say in the session recording here.


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