Guest blog by Maria Harris, Director, Digital Cat Consultancy. First published in Society Matters Magazine
If you’re anything like me, you probably feel like you’ve spent the last 2 years talking to people through Zoom, Teams, or similar platforms. And while I’ve missed the buzz and creative energy from being in a room with people, I do wonder why we didn’t embrace this technology sooner. The time saved on travel, reducing our carbon footprint, the quicker decision making, and efficiency savings we’ve realised are all still having a positive impact as we move back to the office or implement hybrid working.
Even in a normal environment, implementing and embedding new technology can be challenging. We’ve become increasingly comfortable working with digital platforms that use the open APIs and standardised data formats which make solutions like Teams work seamlessly with our calendar, emails, etc. but our mortgage technology isn’t quite in the same space. We’ve talked for a long time about the need for better data sharing, more timely access to information, and the potential of technology to improve the process without making much of a dent in the problem.
Changing how a whole industry works needs a collective mindset shift from all parties. In the mortgage market we’ve only just started tapping into the potential of APIs and integrating our systems but reimagining our entire end-to-end homebuying process takes vision and needs a new approach. We know from the digital platforms we use every day such as Teams that successful innovation comes when you start with the customer journey, build data first, and collaborate to set technology standards and frameworks. Redesigning our property journeys to be data first, collected upfront, and then trusted by every party in the chain needs the whole industry and relevant government departments to come together.
The group facilitating this are the Home Buying and Selling Group. Comprised of volunteer representatives from across the industry, trade bodies, regulators, and government departments, we’re working collaboratively to make upfront information and property data sharing standards a reality. Customer research has repeatedly shown that the process is stressful, confusing, and fraught with unexpected costs and delays. With c.30% of transactions falling through, sale to completion taking over 110 days, and inefficient transactions costing the industry hundreds of millions of pounds every year, it’s easy to see where improvements could be made.
The group are engaged on a number of fronts including upfront information, better access to data, and improving transparency for everyone involved. While these sound simple and intellectually the right things to do, we know they’ll require commitment and investment from all of us to deliver, but the potential upsides are huge. Having upfront information underpinned by a trust framework, data standards, and common API format enables a seller to collate their property pack and share it with their estate agent and conveyancer on any platform, identifying potential issues before listing. Having that data available in a digital format means it can be authenticated and shared with a level of provenance that gives buyers, brokers, and lenders the visibility and confidence they need to make the right decisions.
While it’s technology and data standards that makes this achievable, the outcome is all about the experience – seller, buyer, estate agent, broker, lender, valuer, conveyancer, etc. – we redesign the customer journey and we all benefit from a safer, more congruent, efficient, and customer focused industry.
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The views, opinions and positions expressed within guest blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the BSA.