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By James Dearsley

Co-Founder, Unissu

TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

PropTech Today: Do we care that tech can now halve transaction times?

Tuesday mornings at 6am is usually my time to review all the latest PropTech news. This fires off ideas for my Wednesday column for EAT. Yesterday morning was no different as I reviewed the news that a house had sold in Turkey using Bitcoin.

Often these initial snippets of news send me off in other directions as they raise subject matters to my level of consciousness. On this occasion, it was other news about blockchain and halving home transaction times.

Over a coffee, I wanted to consider why this was so important. Why is speed so important to transactions in today’s market? Does this really matter that you can now transact so quickly? I get the benefit for the agent, but I was just thinking about the end customer. Do they really care?

Let me first focus on the Bitcoin news.

This wasn’t just any house, it was a $1.25m home, making it the most expensive property to be sold using Bitcoin in Turkey (and I suspect in most countries throughout Europe).

Firstly, this was a new method of transaction. An agent offering alternatives to fiat currencies is always interesting to me. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly to me, I enjoyed reading the process they went through to secure the sale:

“In the sale of a villa in Antalya, we recorded visuals of the house with a drone and did an online viewing tour with the customer. Then, we brought the buyer and the seller together on an online meeting and finalized the negotiations. Antalya Homes brokered the payments with Bitcoin. This sale, worth [$1.25 million], was the highest valued property sale ever made by Bitcoin in Turkey.”

Well done agent. Using entirely digital tools to prove you can transact this way. Lastly, I was interested purely because I was working with Antalya Homes about 10 years ago in a past life, promoting developments around the world. They were always forward-thinking so it’s good to see them continuing to push boundaries.

The spark in my thought process yesterday morning was the general association between Bitcoin and Blockchain. Their respective association is a part of cryptocurrency history and despite the fact they shouldn’t always be linked, my brain still works that way.

It was a byline stating: “A blockchain-style platform promises to double the speed of UK property sales” that captured my attention. It wasn’t really the news about the platform that was claiming this but of the outcome the technology promises. It got me thinking.

Let me give some more general background, however. Coadjute is the platform, led by CEO John Reynolds. Its goal is to digitally connect the property market by using the “convergence of blockchain, IoT and AI technology”.

The latest news that I picked up covers Coadjute signing deals with major estate agent software providers dezrez, MRI and Reapit and conveyancing software providers Redbrick and Desrezlegal. The startup estimates it will give around half of UK estate agents access to its software later this year.

Essentially, making it easy to understand, it will sit in the middle of all administrative tasks being done by third parties during a transaction. It will allow all systems and parties to freely communicate with each other and any administrative elements shared easily and seamlessly.

Let me start off by saying that I applaud the open nature of collaboration; something we have championed over the years as the only way this is going to work. Closed networks will simply not benefit anybody. 

This is an opinion shared by Gary Barker, CEO of Reapit “It’s a great opportunity to use a piece of leading edge collaboration technology to solve a problem that exists between buyers, sellers, mortgage brokers, lawyers, insurance companies...... and allowing them all to connect in real-time.”

Similar thoughts were shared from Trevor Youens of MRI - “If the concept is realised it will be of great benefit for agents we serve – as well as other organisations involved in the process and, of course, home buyers themselves.”

Trevor went on to say: “it’s something that’s been discussed for years, but the tech has often lagged behind, especially on the conveyancing side. As more local authorities digitise their information and as the tech finally evolves, we believe that the ‘speeding up’ of transactions could now become a reality. From our side, we’re committed to being a CRM platform that enables innovation and interoperability in the sector, and so there’s a natural synergy with our mission and with what Coadjute is trying to achieve.”

Therefore, this seems to be about two key elements; blockchain and collaboration. I totally understand the blockchain aspect of this being built on a distributed ledger and hence data security is premium.

To be honest, I don’t think anyone really needs to know much more than that. It is a marketing phrase. It will attract people thinking it is really of the moment but it doesn’t really matter.

All you need to know is that it is the clever bit that keeps it all secure and data safe. Whether it is blockchain or not is neither here nor there.

I wanted to work an angle on collaboration and what this really meant on improving the user experience. From this, I was ultimately considering the customer, not the agent so I wanted to see where this was going.

Therefore I questioned Gary (amongst others) further to hear his perspectives on the reason behind the collaboration. “We are supporting Coadjute as we believe that blockchain is the right kind of technology that can help to speed up the buying and selling process given that by definition it’s an open/secure platform between relevant parties.”

“We have committed to working with them using our Foundations platform so that all transaction milestones are transmitted in real-time to them and that their ‘app’ will be available in our marketplace.”

“Given the length of time and stress involved with completing a transaction and the often ‘nothing’s happening’ at the very least, Coadjute can ensure something is happening and that all involved within the buying/selling party are as informed and updated as anyone else.”

It was that last point that I was interested in. At least ‘something is happening’.

There you have it. As simple as that.

Yes, the agents will complete deals more quickly (meaning they get paid quicker!). I see the value proposition for them.

But obviously this has a knock-on effect for the consumer. This isn’t about deals being completed quickly.

It is about security and reassurance.

It is about your end customers knowing that there won’t be hold ups. It is about them knowing they will live in that property and the deal won’t fall through. They won’t get gazumped.

So this news is important, I concluded. It does matter that transactions can be completed more quickly. It gives the agent more confidence that everything will run smoothly. It takes away the threat of different stakeholders dragging their feet in a transaction.

What does this mean? Customers should be very happy to hear this sort of news. Let’s hope Coadjute succeeds in its mission to digitally connect the property market.

*James Dearsley is a leading PropTech influencer and commentator, and is co-founder of PropTech platform Unissu. You can follow James on Twitter here.

  • Mark Walmsley

    This is a very interesting development that will require old school solicitor firms to invest in but with very possibly a lower cost for them in personnel down the line.

    Positives and negatives in this regard but clarity, transparency and consumer needs should always come first surely.

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