While the current home buying process may well be established, standardised, and pretty familiar to both buyers and sellers, it’s not without its flaws. There are a number of common issues that are experienced when buying and selling property and, according to the Research on Buying and Selling Homes paper, published by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, it appears that many of these concerns can be attributed to the number of people involved in the process.
In fact, the report shows that one of the top reasons cited, by both buyers and sellers, for choosing not to use a traditional high street estate agent is the belief that there is a higher risk of something going wrong when doing so. This could potentially be due to the large number of people who are brought into the situation, resulting in a complex, fragmented process with little continuity from one stage through to the next. The typical home buying process will usually involve a buyer, a seller, two estate agents, two solicitors, mortgage advisors, mortgage providers, independent survey companies… is this all too much?
A Fragmented Process
There are, of course, many concerns with a fragmented process. However, perhaps the biggest worry is that this type of process is often likely to result in poor communication. According to the Government report, around 20% of all complaints received by the Property Ombudsman are related to a lack of communication during the buying and selling process. In some cases, there may be a case of ‘Chinese Whispers’ as communications are sent up through the chain, or it may be that some communications are simply not passed on to the buyer or seller at all. It is clear the process suffers from a lack of transparency.
This all leads on to the question of clarity. Is the current purchase process clear? Can it easily be understood by buyers, particularly first time buyers who have never been through this process before? Perhaps not. Clarity is not only reduced by a lack of communication, but also by the differing jargon that is used by professionals at each stage of the process, right through from estate agents to solicitors.
Speed & Efficiency
The Government report suggests that 38% of buyers, and 41% of sellers, claimed that the stages of the process between making an offer and completion took much longer than they were expecting. Nearly half of these buyers and sellers directly attributed the slow process to the other party’s legal team.
The report estimates that the average cost of a delay is between £500 and £700, and that these delays can greatly affect how buyers and sellers view the process overall. In fact, when asked if they had any suggestions on how to improve the process, the number one suggestion offered by buyers and sellers was to increase the efficiency of the solicitors involved, in a bid to minimise the delays that are commonly experienced. These are issues that could be appropriately addressed through development of prop tech.