It’s fair to say that technology has helped to simplify many areas of the property buying and mortgage journey. I say this as I sit here on the train next to someone looking at houses on their smartphone via a very well-known property portal. I realise that this can be a ‘hobby’ for some people and this just shows how the UK housing market continues to capture the interest of a variety of people and the role technology is playing within this. Whether people are proactively looking to buy, checking property values, seeking decorative inspiration, sneering at other people’s tastes or simple snooping on what their neighbours place really looks like, the internet really has opened up the housing, mortgage and conveyancing process for everyone.
Focusing on conveyancing, it was interesting to see the new Residential Conveyancing Consumer Research Report 2019 suggest that fewer than 20% of home buyers use an online conveyancer, although the majority use the internet to find their property. The research also gave respondents 16 possible options to improve the conveyancing process. The most popular choice, backed by 40%, was to make offers subject to contract legally binding. Almost the same proportion (39%) wanted defects in the property to be identified by the seller, not the buyer. A third (34%) wanted to see property log books introduced.
When asked about “additional services” over a third of consumers (37%) wanted 24/7 online access to keep track of their conveyancing case. Surprisingly, few recent buyers seem to have found their conveyancer via an estate agent, with 45% using a firm they already used, and 40% going on recommendation from friends, family and work colleagues. Strikingly, almost all the respondents – 92% – paid their conveyancer a fixed fee. Consumers generally rated their conveyancers highly, but the lowest satisfaction was for communication on the progress of the transaction.
In the modern tech age it’s not difficult to realise how important communication is to consumers. Social media offers the platform to interact – whether positive or negative – with a range of product providers and services. 24/7 support in a consumer facing business is also a must in a day and age where a helpdesk open between 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday is no longer acceptable in many market sectors.
Consumers and business partners need support around the clock with many operating on more flexible hours and the days of 9 to 5 working days, five days a week are a thing of the past for many. It was also somewhat surprising to see so few buyers finding their conveyancer via an estate agent. It’s these beliefs that led us to create The Moving Hub and in 2019 has resulted in us receiving accolades such as Best Conveyancer in industry awards.
As well as mortgage intermediaries and financial advisers, we work closely with many estate agents and are seeing a big uplift in business through those agents who are utilising our platform to offer purchasers access to fully vetted conveyancers with the capacity to take on cases without affecting the quality of their service levels.
Thanks to technology, today’s client are better informed than ever about the mortgage journey but they still rely on expert advice when it comes to the mortgage itself, as well as the surveying and conveyancing process. Trusted affiliations play a huge role in this process and whether you’re an estate agent or a mortgage intermediary, having relationships in place with partners who are tech savvy enough to be able to engage, communicate and support clients in the right ways will help retain future business and bolster referral levels.
We are certainly looking to hit the ground running in 2020 to make the most of any general election market moves and Brexit Bounce. With the right partners firmly in place who are ready, willing and able to maximise a wealth of property-related opportunities, you can too.
Peter Joseph is CEO of The Moving Hub