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Busting the myth: "New technology doesn’t help to speed up the property process"

I am somewhat disappointed, yet not entirely surprised, to have heard the claim that: “New technology isn’t the answer to speeding up property transactions.” While many of the great partners we work with don’t believe this myth, there are unfortunately some involved in property transactions who still do and are all too quick to start the finger pointing when it comes to escalating transaction times.

I am left wondering; how did we get here? On the one hand I empathise with the position, professionals right across the UK property market seem to hold a sense of technology fatigue, as every week another Proptech appears promising to make everyone’s lives easier.

At last count there were over 400 Proptechs in the UK, each individually trying to solve the problem of the housing market, but collectively they have created a new unanticipated problem. How is any estate agent, conveyancer or mortgage broker supposed to use 400 solutions, or even a fraction of that number?

Our partners have told us on many occasions that there is little truth to the myth that new technology isn’t the answer to speeding up property transactions. They’ve reminded us that technology has undoubtedly been a force for good for the property market and will continue to be.

Proptech has driven innovation across the property market

Whilst there are a lot of proptech solutions built on legacy systems which don’t truly transform the property market, there have been some tech advances in the industry over the years. It hasn’t been all doom and gloom.

For instance, let’s briefly imagine a world where over 95% of home buyers didn't search for their new property online and instead walked down to the estate agent’s window to see the latest properties. Digital identity is another one, with buyers and sellers able to verify their identity online using secure ID services.

HM Land Registry announced their 2022+ Strategy with the intention of adopting fully digital services and to transform land registration in England and Wales to ultimately deliver improvements for homeowners. You can read more about HMLR’s strategy in our blog.

A fully digital property market is coming, it just needs to be joined up with the right thinking.

Yes, the speed of property transactions still needs addressing

The time it takes to complete a property transaction in the UK is only getting longer, and longer. In August 2022 it was up to 153 days on average and unfortunately that number continues to rise.

One of the reasons the time to complete continues to escalate is because very few have attempted to develop a solution for the entire transaction process. The prospect is a daunting one when you consider the plethora of moving parts and stages involved from start to finish in buying a house.

Not to knock the achievements of tech solutions thus far, there have been undeniable benefits to estate agents, conveyancers, and buyers/sellers alike. However, if we continue to focus on solutions in silos we’ll only achieve so much. This is why we need to look outside of our silos and think of the market as a whole.

Open vs closed systems

More needs to be done to bring all transaction parties together.

One of the main reasons that past attempts to bring the property market together have not been successful is because they used closed systems (or databases), that have contributed to the fragmentation we now experience in the property market.

With closed systems, individual (otherwise known as proprietary) solutions were created for each software platform, allowing them to access a central store of data. This ended up being a needlessly complex and cumbersome solution which made property transactions even less efficient. Users found themselves having to use new software, add steps to their process, and fix data entry errors, all for little benefit.

This is where Coadjute comes in. The key to true industry-wide change is to tackle the underlying issue of fragmentation by connecting existing systems so the people that use them can work together. This means that no matter your role in the home moving process, you can continue to use your existing software to perform your role.

Coadjute – integration over separation

The notion that ‘new technology doesn’t help to speed up the property transaction process’ is a myth, pure and simple – an opinion that is echoed by many of the partners we are working with in this space. Whether you take individual platforms that have made the day-to-day lives of estate agents or conveyancers easier, or those addressing the transaction process more generally, they’ve all helped get us to where we are today.

That being said, as our partners have told us, what the property industry must endeavour to avoid is becoming saturated with myriad Proptechs. With each new solution comes a different standard for collecting and storing data, solving one problem and creating another.

The big bang moment that unlocks considerable improvements in reducing the time it takes to complete a home-purchase will come once the problem of market fragmentation has been resolved.

At Coadjute, this is exactly what we’re trying to do.

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