From fears of being gazumped through to fears of the purchase falling through, the average homebuyer will face a hugely stressful process. Not only that, but the process can be slow, and it can cost a lot to move.
Our research last year indicated that the cost of moving has never been more expensive, and the government’s call for evidence into the house buying process last year suggested there is a need for change.
With the rise of e-conveyancing firms, and online property portals vying against high street estate agents, we wondered just what technology will do to the property industry. Will it, as the government hopes, result in more transparency and efficiency?
We consider some of the technological advances being brought in to the house buying process, and what effect they might have.
The Land Registry
The Land Registry released a statement at the end of 2017 announcing their decision to go digital – they plan to digitise and automate 95%
of their daily transactions by 2022. What will this mean for house buying?
Well, as conveyancers need to submit documents to the Land Registry, it will automate those forms with no issues and that require no further work. However, the Land Registry say they currently have to return 5000 forms a day to conveyancers due to mistaken information or a lack of detail. These are called requisitions. Allowing them to automate the rest to focus on these cases should speed up the process. Automating recognition of invalid information should also make purchasing quicker, and there is a goal to cut down on the duplication of information, making the purchasing process more transparent, so no effort is wasted.
The Land Registry also suggested publishing the conveyancing firms
they receive the most forms from, and naming the companies with the highest number of requisitions. Whilst this could be seen as a ‘name and shame’ attempt, the Land Registry believes this would increase transparency and make conveyancers more careful in their submissions, thereby improving efficiency.
Bearing in mind that the Land Registry receives 20,000 requests to change the register per day, along with 100,000 query requests and searches, automating will be a long process, but when it is complete, it may have a huge impact.
Estate agencies have had to move with the changes in technology – whilst high street estate agent shops still exist, so many of us have access to properties through portals like Zoopla and Rightmove. As well as merely browsing online, people are happy to use an app to do their searching for them. However, it’s the paperwork behind buying and selling (and the fees associated with that) where technology comes into play.
It seems estate agents may follow in the footsteps of home rental portal Air BnB, who are aiming to offer ‘virtual reality’ viewings of properties. Photographs, as we know, can be misleading. You can’t zoom in close enough to see the condensation in the windows or the damp in the corner of the ceiling.
You can’t assess the brickwork or trip over the dodgy wiring. But augmented reality and virtual reality could make that possible. By giving an honest and ‘real’ experience of the property without visiting, it could speed up sales for those who may have wanted to visit multiple times, or can’t get time off work, or are moving from abroad or far away.
Conveyancing is arguably the place where technology could make the most difference. LMS polled recent buyers on their experience.
10% said that they felt the technology used by their conveyancer was out of date, and 56% said they felt improved technology could make the service better value for money. 63% felt it would speed up the process.
Conveyancing can be a long process, as it’s dependent on so many factors – those polled by LMS suggested email correspondence or an app they could log into, as well as a countdown to the completion date would have improved their experience. From this, we can see that people want more transparency in the process – they want to be kept up to date with where they are and what the next step is.
Conveyancing is also the area where large sums of money change hands – one technological improvement could be ‘completion certainty’, where the money could change hands on the day before completion, which would stop the ‘waiting around’ period, and may result in savings on removals services, as the wait time would be reduced.
Finally, conveyancing has been the focus of fraudsters in 2017
, with manipulation of emails and telephone numbers, as well as hacking into conveyancer’s emails to direct the client’s deposit to a different account. Improvements in ID verification and fraud prevention technology, along with training on how to spot fraudulent emails, will keep buyers safe.
Other technology in house moving
Just as virtual tours of a property could be used to allow potential buyers to have a look, removals firms could use this to survey a property and assess the size of the move and the vehicles they would need.
Chartered Surveyors can make use of technology in their surveys, for example using a drone
to record images or video of the roof of the house, or a hard to reach loft area. They also use apps like Kykcloud which allows them to survey the property whilst inputting data into a tablet, that can then be collated back at the office. Similarly, removals firms could use Skype to assess a removals job remotely.
Property apps are also big business. One app that’s in development allows buyers and seller to view their chain completely, so they can see all the connections clearly and see progression. Apps are also being seen as a useful tool before you take your first step on the ladder, with the government committing £600,000 to the creation of an app that would allow renters to register their rental payments to improve their credit scores.
The government will grant £100,000
to each of six companies competing to create the app, which would help renters build a strong credit report. Whilst this is an excellent idea to encourage renters to think about buying, an app that does this already exists – it’s called Credit Ladder
. Current users pay their rent to Credit Ladder, who pay their landlord. The payment is registered each month. At the moment, whilst the data is being collated, it’s not being accepted by credit checkers – this is expected to change soon.
What problems have you experienced in the homebuying process? Were there any technologies you felt would have improved your experience?