Scott Bozinis, the CEO of InfoTrack UK, discusses how current and new technology (aka Proptech) will be playing an even greater role in the ways the property industry works as a result of what has happened over the past twelve or so months.
“Life will not return to the way it was.”
This is a sentence that, in one form or another, we have all heard throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, that is why the term ‘new normal’ became so prominent in 2020.
But, of course, we should not expect life to return to the way it was. All industries, all markets and all aspects of people’s day-to-day lives are in a state of constant change and, in most cases, advancement.
This is particularly evident when we look at the ways in which technology is disrupting all manner of practices, processes and disciplines.
Within the property industry, both consumers and businesses will have become keenly aware of how digital tools have come to the fore during the pandemic.
Indeed, this unique crisis has greatly accelerated the digital transformation of the entire market – and this transformation will not be reversed.
Technology comes to the aid of homebuyers
In early 2020, when the virus was spreading rapidly, offices closed, and people were confined to their homes. One year on, the UK finds itself in a frustratingly (but understandably) similar position.
The strict nationwide lockdowns have forced the hands of property businesses, which have had no choice but to embrace technology as a means of ‘keeping the lights on’. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.
In many ways, this sudden shift towards new technologies will be a positive and lasting legacy of the pandemic. After all, the property industry has traditionally been slow to embrace technology. Instead, it has remained reliant on offline processes and masses of paperwork, particularly when it comes to the transfer of property from one person (or organisation) to another.
COVID-19 has seen digital transformation strategies kicked into overdrive, with entirely new practices being adopted almost overnight. Virtual house viewings, digital client onboarding, e-signatures on documentation and online property auctions have all quickly become the norm. This is why I believe many of these tools are here to stay.
Digital conveyancing proves its worth
It is the conveyancing space that has perhaps been the greatest beneficiary of the sudden rush to embrace technology.
With buyers, sellers, agents and solicitors all involved in a property transaction, the conveyancing process has historically been blighted by inefficiencies in coordinating activities, providing updates to stakeholders and securing all the necessary documentation.
However, when this process is put through a single digital platform, it becomes exponentially easier, saving time, money and stress for all parties.
Of course, digital conveyancing platforms existed long before anyone had ever heard the term COVID-19. InfoTrack itself was already well established by the start of 2020.
Yet, the pandemic has served to demonstrate how conveyancing technology can provide both competitive advantages and significant efficiency gains. Firms can streamline processes, automating cumbersome and time-consuming manual tasks so that skilled employees can instead focus on delivering a better service to clients. They can deliver superior service and more easily ensure they remain compliant.
One of the most significant developments from the past 12 months, again driven by technology, came on 27 July 2020, HM Land Registry started accepting witnessed electronic signatures. Indeed, just two days later, the first property deeds to be signed electronically were submitted by The Partnership, a leading property solicitor, using InfoTrack’s SignIT eSignature solution supported by DocuSign technology.
The replacement of the traditional ‘wet signature’ with eSignatures was not only an absolute necessity if property transactions were to go ahead during times of social distancing, but it has also sped up the property-buying process. In fact, 67% of SignIT transactions are returned within 12 hours, well before the forms could even arrive by post.
Ultimately, it is the homebuyer that benefits from these changes – the often-stressful conveyancing process becomes faster and more transparent when powered by technology.
The pandemic has shone a light on the role technology can play in the UK property market. In turn, both businesses and consumers have had a taste of the benefits Proptech can offer; even when the threat of the virus subsides, the appetite for these superior digital tools will not abate.
About Scott Bozinis and InfoTrack UK
Scott Bozinis is the CEO of InfoTrack UK – the home of digital conveyancing. A powerful suite of solutions from client onboarding and searches to post-completion and e-signature services, InfoTrack digitises the entire conveyancing process to assure compliance and productivity. Its technology takes on the burden of paper-intensive, demanding administrative tasks within a single platform.
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