ESTAS Newsletter Edition 23

Main Feature

Working together better in a truly digital property market

By Dan Salmons, CEO Coadjute

Dan Salmons, CEO at Coadjute addresses 1,000 of the UK’s top property professionals at The ESTAS

Friday 20th October saw some of the UK’s best agents, conveyancers, mortgage brokers and suppliers descend upon the Grosvenor hotel in London for the prestigious ESTAS Customer Service Awards sponsored by Coadjute.

The theme was Working Together Better, and what a wonderful sight it was to see so many different property professionals brought together in the name of cooperation and collaboration. It’s the passion for what you all bring to your work that makes you stand out and ultimately makes your clients satisfied as well.

But we as an industry shouldn’t be having to rely on your excellence and regularly going the extra mile to get clients what they want and need – a completed transaction. There has to be a better, more sustainable and long-term solution for us all. We need to make working together better the norm, not the exception.

Working together better in a digital property market

Take a step back and imagine a very different transaction process from the one we have grown accustomed to. Imagine a fully digital property transaction, the likes of which we have talked and dreamed of but never been quite able to deliver.

In a truly digital property market both businesses and users would experience a unified journey where there would be no need to log in to separate systems, no need to re-identify or re-key information, or repeat the same processes with different parties, and there would be a single and common view of truth. This vision isn’t an impossibility, it’s achievable.

In order to make the idea of an end-to-end digital transaction a reality there are a few things that we as an industry need to adopt first:

Open and accessible data

The property market is awash with data, however, when you look at the pain points of buying and selling property, 99% of issues faced – the time it takes, the lack of control, the lack of visibility, sharing the same information multiple times to multiple parties – they all come down to the fact that data is fragmented. Everyone already has the information, yet it cannot be easily accessed or shared.

Buyers and sellers deserve to have a property market that operates seamlessly end-to-end, which can only be achieved with data that is open and FAIR – findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable – wherever it is stored, whatever system they use. Besides, all of us in the industry share the same goal: to complete transactions as quickly and efficiently as possible. But achieving this hinges on one thing — making the right data available to the right people, in the right format, at the right time.

An end to the repetition with digital identification

The current process of proving your identification during property transactions certainly leaves a lot to be desired. We’ve happened upon a highly siloed and repetitive process where different digital ID providers work with different professionals meaning consumers perform the same checks again and again and operate through a labyrinth of scanned documents. And if that’s not bad enough, the process of digital identification doesn’t actually produce anything digital, a verified PDF is digital in name only.

The great thing is the technology already exists to break this cycle. Were biometric verifications to become the new norm then digital identities that are fully interoperable and verifiable would reduce the repetition almost overnight.

Tokenised money and titles

Tokenised money and titlesDespite the shift to online banking, moving money is risky, complex, manual and prone to errors - we’ve all heard the horror stories of fraud taking place at the point of completion. Digitised deeds are trapped in siloed databases at HMLR, requiring significant manual processes for both HMLR and buyers and sellers.

One of the suggested options to bring money and titles to a fully digital state is through tokenisation, whereby both money and property ownership can be represented as blockchain-based tokens in a completely digital format. Digital money and deeds in this format would revolutionise transactions, being completely programmable for money and deeds to exchange at any desired date or time.

Smart(er) contracts

Take your paper-based contracts, or PDF documents and cast them aside! Instead, imagine a contract running as a program on highly secure blockchain technology rendering it effectively self-executing, meaning things happen automatically when specific conditions are met.

A smart contract could specify that at the point of completion, insurances are automatically triggered, and an outstanding debit is cleared by the mortgage advance – a programmable contract. Every step from start to finish is documented and verified within the smart contract, which not only reduces human error but also helps to build trust and confidence in the process.

Orchestration – the digital backbone

The lynchpin connecting everything together.

All these components mentioned so far, accessible data, digital identity and signatures, tokenised money and titles, and smart contracts are necessary for a digital property market, but they are not sufficient to create one.

Orchestration is the missing piece of the digital property market puzzle. A market-wide infrastructure and intelligent backbone that connects systems and orchestrates the exchange of data throughout the property market. Similar to how the telecommunications networks we know and use daily for the transfer of data and calls from one mobile device to another, orchestration efficiently coordinates the various tasks, activities, and events in a property transaction. It brings together the different business processes of parties involved into a seamless digital journey, achieved by connecting their systems and data through a shared digital interface.

Making the digital property market a reality

Once these necessary components including open data, digital identity, tokenised money and titles, and smart contracts are in place, and all connected to interact seamlessly with one another through orchestration, the property transaction will be unrecognisably accelerated. We will then see the truly unified digital journey and experience the market has been striving towards for so long.

It is an incredibly exciting time for us as we see real technology innovation in the property industry isn’t 10 years away, Coadjute is doing it right now.

Find out more about the digital property market

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