The phrase originated in the computing industry where it’s used to describe a single centralised database that multiple parties can access.
Recently, it has begun to be used in the residential property sector where it describes all parties to a transaction, including buyers and sellers, having access to a single, true view of the chain.
In its simplest form, it’s a diagram that shows each property in the chain with graphics used to show how far along the transaction process that property is. This is what the chain view looks like in the sales progression platform, mio.
Why do we need a single view of the chain?
Property transactions run in silos. Each party knows what they need to do and whether or not their tasks are completed, but they don’t always know what everyone else is doing.
That wouldn’t be a huge problem if there were only four tasks to complete in a pre-defined order but that’s not how property transactions work.
There are well over twenty key tasks in each transaction; they run concurrently but some tasks must be completed in a certain order. Visually, it would look like a very complicated spider’s web built by lots of different spiders.
Everyone understands the challenges this creates:
• Nobody has a clear idea of what’s happening.
• Endless phone calls and emails are needed to keep buyers and sellers up to date.
• Because buyers and sellers don’t really understand what’s happening, they worry; they’re more likely to pull out and they can’t plan for their moving date.
• It’s hard to accurately predict completion dates so nobody knows when they are going to get paid and accurate financial forecasting is impossible.
• Transactions take longer than they should.
An accurate view of the chain gives everyone a much clearer idea of what’s happening. Reimagine the last three months of lockdown with the entire industry having access to a chain view. It would have been much easier to continue progressing transactions, even with the majority of us working from home.
Is a single view of the chain available now?
Agents can build and access a view of the chain in mio. As we emerge from lockdown, it’s vital that sales are progressed quickly.
A single view of the chain definitely makes that process easier and quicker, with data showing that consistent use of mio helps reduce transactions times by two weeks.
The mio chain view is also available to buyers and sellers via the mio consumer app and it will shortly be accessible to other platforms, for example, mortgage broking and conveyancing platforms, via a simple integration. For the first time, all parties will have a clear view of progress in a chain.
Why isn’t a chain view more widely available?
The accuracy of a chain view, irrespective of where it’s hosted, is reliant on milestones being accurately updated. We have seen an increasing willingness amongst agents to collaborate to ensure that the mio chain is accurate.
However, agents should not be solely responsible for keeping the chain view updated. There are multiple parties involved in a transaction and it’s unrealistic to expect all of those parties, over 20,000 businesses in total, to use the same platform solely for the purpose of updating the status of a transaction.
So, to be effective, a chain view has to be updated automatically via an integration with multiple platforms. To achieve this will take time, but platforms like mio are already receiving multiple data feeds from across the residential property industry. These automatically update a milestone rather than relying on the agent to chase for a status update and then tick a box.
Aside from the challenges of delivering multiple integrations, a lack of trust and an unwillingness to change will also pose a challenge. Agents, particularly, are concerned that if other agents can see a full view of the chain, they will poach their buyers or sellers.
This objection should be easily overcome as the names of buyers and sellers are only revealed to the relevant agents. Nonetheless, the level of competition between agents means that many may take some convincing on this point.
An unwillingness to change is harder to overcome but if the residential property sector doesn’t work collectively to improve transactions times, change will be thrust upon us and that change could sound the death knell for businesses unwilling to embrace a new way of working.
The recent blockchain proof of concept led by Instant Property Network and facilitated by R3, demonstrated that transaction times can be reduced to three weeks with IPN stating that this “could equate to an annual saving of around $160 billion.”
That saving cannot be ignored and whilst the IPN concept requires not just the sharing of milestone updates but a totally different approach to the data collection, validation and distribution, it shows what is possible in the mid-term.
In the short-term, agents must embrace good technology and recognise that it’s not always a threat to people, it’s about empowering them to be more effective.
*Emma Vigus is managing director of mio