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Why A.I. won't save the property industry...

Artificial Intelligence Artificial Intelligence and it's use in property conveyancing

Whilst I was away in India recently, something strange happened to me...

I made a phone call to my bank.

Nothing unusual about that I hear you say!

Well, I didn't think so too until after I hung up the phone.

It was then that I realised I'd just spoken to a computer...

Not the usual anger-inducing type that fails to recognise a single word you've just said, prompting you to start tearing out your hair because it repeats back to you something that couldn't be further from the truth of what came out of your mouth...

But the sinister type that understood exactly what I was saying and gave me the answer I was looking for within seconds. Then "it" exchanged pleasantries with me as we wrapped up the call.

It was at that point that the goosebumps of realisation set in...

So what made me believe that I'd just spoken to Skynet?

There were a couple of clues - Firstly, the call was answered instantly. Secondly, there was not the usual background noise of a call centre. Thirdly, there were no human-like pauses or 'conversation fillers' such as "erm" or "ah" in the conversation. I can't help but notice things like this - blame my training as a surveyor!

But what's the problem?

Well, let's bring it back to our beloved property world.

I recently watched a video of some roundtable experts discussing why the property market is so bad and what can be done to make it better for all concerned. One of the experts is a self-appointed 'guru' in the conveyancing world who made other suggestions in a recent article published in the industry press.

This particular article and discussion unfortunately did nothing to advance the current plight of the property market and was more of the continued problem that I see over and over again in the industry - a lot of talk but very little practical action which actually helps buyers and sellers who, incidentally, are the ones paying everybody's wages!

Anyway, whilst this article didn't say it in as many words, upon reflection, it became clear the author was angling for the chosen solution to come about in the form of A.I. or machine learning to do (the bulk of) the conveyancing work on behalf of their fee-paying client.

Some will argue this is sensible - it takes an almighty burden off solicitors and lets computers do the heavy lifting whilst they can deal with the more tangible elements of a transaction that a computer may not (yet) be able to handle.

But many things are overlooked with this approach - not just job losses and people losing out when they've trained for years to gain their professional qualification, but also a sense of humanity. Computers by their very nature operate on a binary system - black & white or yes & no. There is no room for interpretation. Just how do you solve those 1-in-5 matters that slip into the "grey" area?

What happens when, say, 20% of cases are more complex and have to be referred to an actual human being to determine? Those in favour will argue this is exactly what should happen - a human steps in and takes care of it, leaving the computer to handle the remaining 80% of the work.

And what then...?

How do conveyancers gain the experience they need to do the job effectively if a computer is doing all the work for them?

And the redundancies which follow will ensure fewer professionals are needed in a profession that's already at breaking point.

So the concentration of expertise falls into the hands of the few who may or may not have understudies to pass their knowledge onto. And if there's less supply, doesn't that usually mean there's a price premium to pay...?

To me, it's clear this "expert" is barking up the wrong tree - subtly advocating for technology to replace practitioners in the industry whilst they get wealthy from owning the proposed solution - to hell with everyone else!

So what IS the solution?

I won't get tired of banging this drum. Not ever! The answer is VERY simple:

Conveyancing firms who want to survive the downturn in the market must do these two things within the next 90 days:

1. Put their prices up.

2. Implement sales and marketing in their practice (or partner with someone who will do it for them).

Why is THIS the solution?

Well, investment in technology & staff can only happen when there's a healthy profit margin in the company. And from what I've seen behind the scenes in a lot of law firms, they don't have healthy profit margins. Far from it...

More importantly, the escalating PI costs are squeezing firms out of the market. You can't run a business on 10% profit margin if your essential cost base is going up 20-50% a year!

The reason I believe most conveyancers are stressed out is because of all the regulatory demands being made on them and the increasing costs, being balanced against very high case loads of cut-price conveyancing work. It simply doesn't work! And if you need me to spell out exactly why it doesn't work - you'd better get in contact asap so we can help turnaround your business fortunes!

The only way I know how to reliably increase fees is to know how to market and sell yourself well enough so you can show clients the value you can add to their journey, as well as overcoming their objections to the (increased) price you charge in a way that helps the prospect see why working with you will be instrumental to their success.

If conveyancers can't do sales and marketing effectively themselves, then they'd better partner with someone who can do it for them, or run the risk of running aground on the uncertain seas of cut-price fees, escalating costs and colleagues leaving the industry in droves.

The current model is proving itself to be financially unsustainable - so perhaps its worth addressing the root cause of the problem rather than looking for superfluous solutions from people who are out of touch with their fee-paying clients needs? Or worse, have a hidden agenda that's designed to simply put you out of business...?

For those law firms looking for business support - you can reach out to us via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Comments 2

Guest - Karl on Friday, 02 December 2022 13:23

NO! NO! NO!

It would be the last straw if they do introduce AI into conveyancing. It is bad enough now. Lets not make things worse by throwing this in to the mix!

Agree to, it will replace jobs.

NO! NO! NO! It would be the last straw if they do introduce AI into conveyancing. It is bad enough now. Lets not make things worse by throwing this in to the mix! Agree to, it will replace jobs.
Guest - Frank on Friday, 02 December 2022 20:58

Who is looking to do this? I think people have had enough of talking to machines and robots, it is destroying society. We want more human interaction NOT LESS. This would be fraught with problems, god help us if ever implemented!

Who is looking to do this? I think people have had enough of talking to machines and robots, it is destroying society. We want more human interaction NOT LESS. This would be fraught with problems, god help us if ever implemented!
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Tuesday, 25 June 2024