Joe Pepper is chief executive at tmgroup
As the famous saying by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus goes “change is the only constant in life”, and that has never felt truer than in the extremes we’ve experienced in the past 10 months.
Whilst it is somewhat of a relief that we’ve dodged the looming threat of a no-deal Brexit, or yet another extension period, the fight against coronavirus continues to shape our daily lives.
Even with the recent approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination programme, the UK is still facing an extended and unpredictable period of lockdowns.
Yet, outside of these wider economic factors, over which we as an industry have little or no control, there are trends and influences much closer to our businesses.
Businesses will continue to adapt to challenging market conditions – including search delays.
In the short-term, transaction delays are very much part of the picture, as many parts of the market have struggled with capacity and effective working over the past few months.
Conveyancers and lenders are both typically working to extended time periods for handling correspondence, and many local authorities are operating search periods many times longer than normal.
However, forward-thinking businesses are doing their best to adapt to these challenging market conditions and offer solutions to help take the pressure off.
For example, tmgroup has recently launched a market-leading search delay insurance product – provided by CLS Property Insight – to mitigate against the impact of search delays in the short-term.
We’re also seeing positive developments in the longer term too, including the advice around digital signatures from HM Land Registry, which many firms are still digesting and looking to understand how they can implement into their current workflows.
The adoption of digital signature technology is easy and readily available from a host of proven providers.
More important though is the way that the technologies we all use continue to improve their ability to talk to one another, and to provide conveyancers and others with joined-up data and other information.
It was during the first lockdown that tmgroup announced a new and industry-leading set of APIs, which allow conveyancers to easily integrate their case management systems with tmconvey and tmconnect, and shortly after that were able to provide a joined-up view of the property transaction through integration with mio, the leading sales progression platform for estate agents.
This year, it will be possible for a conveyancer to have the same real-time view as an estate agent and, through the mio app, update a home-buyer on the progress of a transaction, and for that information to be accessed in the conveyancer’s own case management platform.
The trend for real-time sharing of relevant data between property professionals is only going to intensify in 2021.
Regardless of the success of the coronavirus vaccination programme, remote working is very likely to remain predominant across 2021, which will only accentuate the importance of having information and data relating to the status of a property transaction easily accessible and available digitally.
There remains huge potential for the conveyancing market to increase overall productivity, and that will be crucial whatever happens in the wider market this year.