Conveyancing provider reveals new product is speeding up house buying and selling

Conveyancing provider ULS Technology has revealed “a robust financial performance in a challenging housing market”.

The business, which has a one-third stake in the HomeOwners Alliance, has reported on the six months to the end of September.

It also indicated that a new development, called DigitalMove, is set to transform the business and reduce conveyancing time.

ULS said that in the six months to the end of September, revenue was £14.5m – down from £15.8m on the same time last year, but this was expected.

Pre-tax profits rose by 3% to £2.37m.

The business said that it has continued to invest in DigitalMove, with 46 conveyancing firms now using it regularly.

ULS chief executive Steve Goodall said that initial feedback about DigitalMove was “extremely positive” and that it has the potential for all conveyancers in the country to use it.

He said: “We believe that this is the right time to increase the rate at which we are investing in this product and to accelerate its development and rollout.

“While this will initially impact profitability, we are targeting doubling profitability within three years of the investment.”


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  1. TwitterSalisPropNews

    Profit profit profit. Respect the public!
    Of the £600m worth of property transactions we handle a year, not a single one would be helped by better technology. Not one in my cabinet right now would be. Not a single instance where ‘I wish I had better IT’.
    The pace of house conveyancing is down to the quality of the actual human handling each part; the quality and pace of their own actions. This is just not understood by  so many ‘IT saviours’ of the conveyancing sector.
    Conveyancing transactions would dramatically speed up if the quality of the conveyancer involved was improved. IT products/involvement is a red herring.
    What my new chain just starting yesterday needs is two of the usual culprit law firms removed as part of it as they are so slow; their staff poorly trained and need supervisors to check their work, who ask pointless enquiries, and who often fail to request mortgage monies at all!?
    Instead, standards keep falling leading to some of us conveyncers now having to fix even more conveyancing defects created by a lack of attention to the legal work, as IT processes gloss over the need for actual property law, and legal skills by the conveyancer.

    1. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

      Can’t really let those comments go without a response.

      To say that “not a single one would be helped by technology” is quite a stretch.

      Whilst I agree that people need to know what they are doing, saying that technology wouldn”t be appreciated by your customers has a Canute-ish ring about it.

      From my personal experience I can 100% state categorically that consumers want technology solutions for their communication concerns.

      We know this because every single day we have on average 700 people logging onto our portal to check progress.  Also, without using technologies such as secure messaging you are putting your clients at significant risk of fraud.

      Sorry – whilst I completely applaud your attitude towards having the right people in place, by denying your clients secure access to case details and messaging 24 hours a day, you are holding back much needed progress.

      1. Nemo Conveyancer

        Agree with this entirely. Some technologies are better than others, but this can only be established by trying them. Whilst you 100% need trained staff to be pulling the strings, anything that makes their job easier (and the client experience smoother) is only a good thing.

        However, the press release in the article is completely lacking in substance. This is the third such article in as many weeks promising to make things quicker, with no details as to how. Where there is a chain involved, even if all parties did use the same tech, there are no guarantees of speed. There are too many variables.

        New technology can be used to deliver a better service or to be more efficient (and I believe should be) but what it cannot do is guarantee that one particular transaction can go faster than before.

      2. TwitterSalisPropNews

        Not the IT I thought any of us would be thinking of, as none of that makes things faster. Though our in-house IT designers would jump on them if they did. (Tick box updating is also a little dated anyway, as that was around 15 years ago.)
        But yes I am aware of the tick box updaters, and the secure messaging brigade, who feel they must send sensitive email content to their client that can lead to fraud.
        Even before our use of IT, we make sure we have impressive conveyancers, so that any new IT solutions in the market place we do discover is then a bonus on top.
        As a result, the tick box IT solutions in fact lag behind us – having experienced both models – as for our 1000+ live clients at any one time our lawyers are expert/confident/instant decision makers etc and so offer personal calls and emails with specific hand holding detailed progress, as we believe to treat every sale and purchase as if it is our own. Our clients are delighted by that, as are the agents who we cc.

    2. Woodentop

      Nonsense. It is the human handling that is slow. Tech that can do the work instantly speeds up the process, prevents interference taking up valuable time and would have chains ‘ready’ earlier. Far to much of conveyancing is time consuming man handling where technology can make a massive difference from Title and local authority searches, mortgage arrangements, digital enquiries than the slow DX or post. The current system is archaic because of manual work and all the pieces of the jigsaw live in their own protective world.

  2. TOZ4

    I would like an opinion from you conveyancers, and what do you say Woodentop, on the idea that the procedure needs to be turned on its head: Property cannot be offered for sale until the vendors solicitor has obtained everything that will be required by the otherside to exchange. If documents expire during marketing, they’ll have to be renewed. Although lenders are pretty quick these days, they should be forced to process applications to offer subject to valuation. When a price is agreed, contracts can be exchanged subject to valuation/survey. Would this not work?

    1. sb007ck

      Good luck getting a vendor to pay for all that before they go on the market.

      1. TOZ4

        arguably, this is a massive game changer and venors would benefit if buying too. But, you could bat this one back and forth all day long. Do we want to speed up the buying process or carry on with the archaic system as it is. Cant make an omlett without breaking eggs.

    2. Woodentop

      Many thoughts on this. An MOT or whatever one wants to call it at prelisting certainly would assist. From an agents point of view who is offering no sale no fee and putting the man hours in, would have some type of certainty they are not wasting their time and money where there is little chance of recovery. However is this a real problem? Our drop out rate through conveyancing issues were minimal, just frustrating for everyone but hurdles are normally overcome. I believe the adverse survey was the key problem, quickly followed by mortgage decline.  
      Then you have the issues over costs for work that has to be re-done as some enquiries have a shelf life. Vendors do not like paying for work that needs redoing! HIPS was a nonsense and just about hated by everyone because of the way it was forced implementation with so many failings. Pre-listing survey can never work because of shelf life but again in many cases a survey can be done and reported within 14 days, if not sooner (yes some still take longer but that down to access and how efficient the surveyor is). Survey does however help show up what is likely to happen when they get a sale agreed and considering it is often a walk around (that should get a mixed response), a re-visit should be negotiable on the fee’s while at the moment they hit the re-print button with a new date and charge the full fee (more mixed responses in-coming!).  
      If technology allowed for (Utopia) instant search results etc for enquiries that had a shelf life, then the problem diminishes and questionable if it is needed at pre-listing. Mortgages can and are sorted out, subject to survey long before the property is even found. That process can be refined and should be compulsory before ‘an offer’ is made.  
      Having the chain ready is the key to completion, whenever that can happen? Some chains are longer than others and differing issues to get together, so you can be back to square one with shelf life of certain documents. Not so if you can instantly get it and that is where IT comes into its own.  
      We all know where the key stages are that cause delays, so yes the system does need turning on its head to make those that cause the delays more efficient. The best conveyancer can only work as fast as the information they receive and often the blame game starts with them being accused slow and in some cases the hat does fit but there would be no more excuse if the whole process came into line with so many other industries who use technology to full effect.  
      There are set parts to the process, as if all readers didn’t know, that are manual and cannot be replaced by Tech.
      A fact sheet that can assist with the conveyancing should be completed at listing stage?

    3. TwitterSalisPropNews

      Agreed. It’s currently called an auction pack – but have you seen an auction pack, soooo many are not fit for purpose. And the poor property owner does not realise and bids are not made or made at lower rates.

      Like HIPs, we had a cracking pack, as we came later to the game by watching others and copying bits. Then too many providers dropped the standard so low they were abolished.

      But in theory, yes, it would be good, but sadly it will never materialise in a form where it is enough to allow the other side to exchange. Not least as it would have to go into such detail to cover off the enquiries that no conveyancer would ever ask…apart from the usual suspect firms we all loath….and that would take some doing as most of the time they make no sense or just don’t apply, yet these law firms won’t let them go as their tick box forms have no other option for them.




  3. TOZ4

    Adverse survey… well the vendor now knows their house has a issue that needs to be adressed if they want to sell. A simple price compensation may well be the solution as it is now. Serious structural issues… perhaps have a surveyor check the house out before marketing as a pre-emtive measure. Yeah, I know, more money. I’m not suggesting a compulsory prelisting survey. I would never accept one with all the disclaimers etc by surveyors. However, if the vendors are unaware of a serious issue with property because they didnt investigate why a crack appeared in the brick work, or why the bedroom wall is soaking wet………FFS! You do wonder.
    How much does a local search cost? £150ish? its not a fortune to renew expired docs. Am I overlooking any other docs with a shelf life that are expensive?
    All those irritating little additional enquires that extend the transaction, particularly in the hands of useless solicitors; right of way, building control certs, lease clauses, lease extention, planning issues……you know, the usual stuff that could all be gathered together before listing, ready for the other side. 
    The dreaded chain! Everyone wants a seemless symultaneous sale and purchase. We know that’s unrealistic and its the chain that can be the cause of so much grief. The chain is part of the archaic system that needs to go. If one manages a symultaneous transaction, then great. But, dont expect it and plan accordingly. Many purchasers now heed advise and sell to be chain free. Some have to lose a couple of houses before they wise up.
    Reform is needed, badly. Thanks for your imput Woodentop. 

    1. Woodentop

      Do  not conveyancers have a single platform (thanks to Robert May for the heads-up on tech terms) where they can distribute between all the conveyancers in the chain in real-time, request, send and receive required enquiries (encrypted?), a 1 to 31 system (some solicitors will question, “a what?”) and why or why are local authoritiy searches pre historic system!


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