In fact, I’m acutely aware of what many advisers and sector practitioners are going through at the moment in order to get their clients the homes they want, the finance they need, and the completions they are striving for.
Let’s be honest, this is a difficult market at present with many stakeholders suffering from a lack of resources, which results in advisers working late into the night in order to secure products before they are repriced, or conveyancers working long hours and weekends in order to work through the cases in order to try and get them completed within the desired timescale.
This kind of work and commitment is not forgotten, and I’m sure it will mean repeat business long into the future.
However, there is also something to be said for our sector helping itself, and I can’t help but feel sometimes that we are either slow on the uptake, or there is a wider malaise, a general unwillingness to work with the progress that has been made and to embrace in particular the technology advancements that could make all our lives so much easier.
As someone once remarked, after hundreds of years, conveyancing is still a lot about physically ‘pushing paper around’ and that is not a good basis on which to build a modern house-buying process.
A case in point. Just recently, I read a story about a Hampshire estate agency who went ‘above and beyond’ for their vendor client, flying to Spain to get a signature, driving hundreds of miles to get a flight back, and then driving to Newcastle, all to ensure that the completion could take place.
This is an incredible commitment and I’m sure all those involved were incredibly grateful for the efforts of the staff, particularly as the vendors concerned had been waiting months in order to downsize.
But, and this shouldn’t be taken as any sort of criticism for the agency involved, this does appear to show just how slow we can be within the property space to get up to speed with how these transactions could be delivered, and the technology available to do so.
No one in their right mind would think that flying and driving hundreds/thousands of miles to another country in order to get a signature was anything less than bonkers. Especially in the days of online documentation, e-signatures, digital IDs and the like.
And while I know the market is somewhat sludgy at the moment are we really thinking this should be a normal part of working life anymore, or indeed modern life? Again, far be it for me to come across as holier than thou but what was the carbon footprint of such travelling, especially when you have email/secure platforms which could effectively do the job in minutes.
All the tools are there to ensure we have a conveyancing process which can work so much more effectively online, or with some relatively basic digital tools, that it somehow beggars belief that those involved were not able to take advantage of, in order to get the right result and to save time, money and resource.
In this day and age if the only way we can secure the completion of a chain is by sending people on planes or halfway across the country, then we do have an incredible amount of learning to do.
Even if there are mitigating circumstances for such a case, I can guarantee there will be countless others taking place every week, which are somehow reliant on a wet signature, or for the solicitor to meet the client face-to-face, or for paperwork to be sent by guaranteed post when the client is away, or…you could probably name half a dozen circumstances you’ve witnessed that have held up a transaction.
It is surely time to step into the here and now, to accept that technology provides us with so many more ‘outs’ than previous, and to ensure that staff do not have to jump on planes or drive miles in order to complete a transaction which could be easily done online. Technology is available, but it needs all parties to take advantage of it.