A purchase of property, whether as part of a portfolio or an individual unit, is a complicated process, where numerous parties often act in silos despite their common goal. The buyer, seller, funds provider, property management company and solicitors are just some of the individuals who need to be involved and kept informed of the progress of the purchase. Historically, a considerable part of the legal process has been conducted in writing and via post, DX or email, but this can create unnecessary risks when sharing confidential and sensitive information. In addition, it frequently causes unnecessary delays which are becoming increasingly unacceptable to clients in today’s world of 24/7 communication.
Recent technological advances have had, and will continue to have, huge implications for the way clients expect their solicitors to work. The explosion in connected devices means that individuals are constantly contactable, and expect their solicitors to be too. In commercial property purchases where millions of pounds are often at stake, this sense of urgency is heightened all the more and it’s vital that solicitors and other parties in the property purchase process can consider new ways to share information in a timely and secure way.
A positive example of joined up working in the industry is a unique collaboration between Hearthstone Investments plc, a specialist fund manager in residential property, and their strategic partner, leading estate agent and property services provider, Connells Group.
Both parties recognised that they needed a collaborative tool to enable portfolios or individual residential properties to be bought quickly and effectively, with the online participation of all the other relevant parties, including the trust management company, the depositary and the conveyancing solicitors.
In order to bring all relevant parties together in one place, Connells and Hearthstone chose to use TM Secure, a tailored platform which provides a secure environment in which the entire purchasing process can be managed from start to finish, and enables all invited parties involved to easily share documentation with each other. Launched in 2012, the solution hosts a guided online workflow with milestones to alert relevant parties when an action has been completed and identifies the next area of responsibility. It also means that anyone involved can see the status of the project at a glance and quickly identify any possible issues or bottlenecks
The TM Secure product includes Title Monitor, a proactive monitoring and alerting tool which minimises exposure to fraud, a growing concern in the property industry. Property fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated but while technology plays a huge part in committing fraud, it can also play a huge part in combating it. TM Secure’s robust system kept information secure and helped Hearthstone to complete its deals to agreed timescales while ensuring that the process ran smoothly and within the agreed transaction protocols. It ensured that there was visibility throughout the purchase, with information being made available at critical points, and secure and instant data transfer meant that there were no unnecessary delays.
Roger Wilson, Conveyancing Services Director at Connells, said: “We were very pleased how TM Group was able to deliver a system that met our bespoke requirements and to very tight deadlines. It has not only been a collaborative tool for all the various parties involved, but is also enabling us to monitor the legal titles post acquisition, for this rapidly expanding portfolio.”
Paul Albone, Managing Director at TM Group, added: “Using technology need not be a vast change to the way property purchases are handled. It is simply a way to streamline and speed up processes, and to provide additional transparency for all parties. Ultimately, the industry norm should be that each stage of the transaction is secure, joined up, and visible to everyone involved.”