Angela Gordon-Lennox of Landmark Information Group looks at the digital evolution taking place in the property industry.
The way people purchase products and services has dramatically changed over recent years, with research showing that ‘always on – always connected’ consumers are not only taking advantage of the speed and accessibility offered by eCommerce solutions at their desk and only laptops but are increasingly accessing web services via their smartphone and tablet to research and ultimately make purchases.
In today’s time-pressured world, convenience, simplicity and speed matter more than ever. People are used to sites such as Amazon or eBay where they can make purchases in a matter of seconds; this trend has evolved and is now becoming the norm not just with household products, but also with professional services.
If we look at this from a homebuyer’s perspective, we’ve become a nation of online house finders and it’s not until the search is really narrowed down that we venture out to visit prospective properties.
If we then like what we see we go back to our screens and start to find out more information – the power of the Internet means prospective house buyers or home owners can review neighbourhood information, local schools, house price fluctuations and more before making the decision to go ahead with the purchase.
It is at this stage that the homebuyer will employ the services of a conveyancing professional to manage the purchase, and a Legal Services firm can stand out and really meet their needs by delivering access to as much information as possible via web-based services.
A key area where such information can be easily digested and understood is the Property Searches. Here at Landmark, we have been working with Legal Professionals for many years to understand what improvements can be made to the conveyancing process to meet clients’ growing service expectations.
As a company that’s been operating for over twenty years, we’ve seen the cycles of evolution; originally of course many searches were manual, paper-based reports. Over time this has become more digitised with reports delivered electronically, via PDF, by email. This has evolved to online portals where many legal firms provide clients with a private log-in so they can review all updates and data relating to their case electronically.
In checking any property risks the decision on which standard and non-routine searches to conduct remains up to the conveyancing professional. They will recommend specific environmental reports or similar, agree these with the client and order what is required for review and analysis.
It remains the responsibility of legal professionals to undertake the most appropriate investigations to ensure clients aren’t subject to any loss further down the line and from a general compliance perspective, so it is vital to get this right. This is achieved by providing clients with all pertinent information on the property – including any environmental factors – which could have the potential to negatively impact the property. This will help avoid any future negligence claim.
One significant change more recently is the option for conveyancers to access ‘all in one’ reports that analyse a range of potential threats via one single order.
For example, today a conveyancer can purchase a single report that contains due diligence relating to Flood Risk, Ground Hazards and Stability, Energy and Infrastructure Developments, plus Contaminated Land research: total environmental due diligence in one single order. On top of this, in addition to receiving written analysis and maps pinpointing any risk, the information can also be accessed by clicking a link, which takes the homebuyer through to an online interactive portal.
It provides conveyancing professionals with the tools needed to interpret the data quickly and accurately, and for the first time, means the information can also be directly shared with homebuyers via a desktop PC, Tablet device or even a smartphone.
By delivering the conveyancing service and associated due diligence documents in either print, PDF or online, it offers homebuyers choice. They can view the contents when and how it suits them. After all, with consumers wishing to access utilities bills and suchlike online, why should conveyancing be any different?
The digital evolution continues apace and, as clients’ expectations of accessing and using information online become ever more the norm, it’s important for conveyancers to deliver the next generation client care that homebuyers have come to expect.
This article was submitted to be published by Landmark Information Group as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.