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Is centralised communication between buyers, sellers, estate agents, solicitors and other professionals key to speeding up property transactions?

Centralised Communication Connecting Homemovers, Estate Agents and Conveyancers on Property Transactions

It would certainly help! Ask any buyer or seller what their biggest headache is/was when going through the process and the majority would say poor communication and not being updated on progress. Bad communication effects everyone, including the professionals. All suffer some degree of stress and anxiety.


The primary goal of centralised communication for property transactions is to ensure all parties are on the same page and information is shared quickly to reduce the risk of miscommunication and misunderstandings. When different parties communicate through their own channels, there is a greater likelihood that important information will be missed or misinterpreted and there can be significant delays whilst each party waits for information from the others.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CENTRALISED COMMUNICATION?

By using a central platform, everyone involved in the transaction can access the exact same information in real time, so nothing is lost in translation. It also addresses a fundamental need for buyers and sellers, which is being kept-up-to-date on progress. A centralised communication platform allows all parties to update everyone at the same time. This cuts duplication and improves efficiency by reducing the number of emails and phone calls between them. Centralised communication can also help to improve transparency and accountability. When all parties are using the same platform, it becomes easier to track progress and identify any issues that need to be addressed. This can help to ensure that everyone is meeting their obligations and that the transaction is progressing smoothly.


A sale can fall through for multiple reasons including unexpected problems with the property, illness or death. But deals can also collapse as a result of bad or none existent communication which is not only unacceptable but, in most cases, avoidable. The problem can start at the begining of the process as a result of who the vendor/seller and later the buyer selects to act on their behalf. If they choose a bad agent or solicitor, then no matter how good or efficient the other parties are, the process will be let down by the weakest link. A smooth transaction relies on all professionals working to a certain standard and service level which all professionals have to be on board with.


TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK!

There is no escaping the fact that a property transaction is a team activity. It relies on multiple industries and people comming together for a common goal. For this reason alone the 'blame game' that currently exists between estate agency and conveyancing has to stop. It is detrimental to progress, as one side cannot operate successfully without out the other. Many say its the system that is broken, that the processes are the problem, others blame it on the people and a mindset. There is truth in both. Some systems and processes are still antiquated, for example within local authorities. But many have, or are in the process of addressing this, with new technology and process improvement. 


In terms of people, there are many trail blazers across the industries introducing and/or embracing new technologies, streamlining their internal processes and operations, adopting best practices and generally trying hard to improve things. There are also many within each industry who like the status quo and are not prepared to change. Others want to adapt but are restricted by lack of funds or simply just don't know where to start. Finally, there are those unscrupulous agents and solicitors who are just chasing the money with many operating pay anyway/low fee models where it doesn't matter if a transaction fails. In fact, in some cases, it works in their favour if it does fail as less work for them to do!


There is a lot of work going on regarding automation of processes and more importantly around the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) which some believe will eradicate the need for human involvement. This technology is already being used in other industries with some success. For example, the chat systems based on Open AI's ChatGPT is so sophisticated in how it responds to user questions that its often difficult to tell whether you are speaking to a real person or not. This technology is currently being piloted within some law firms with a view to help speed up enquiries. Whether or not this is developed enough at this point to deal with communication around property remains to be seen. For now though the focus needs to be on the people and processes we currently have to work with and in particular improving collaboration and communication around the property transaction. 


CONSUMERS ARE IN THE DRIVING SEAT

Whether you like it or not, consumers are the ones leading the way right now. They are used to more modern ways of doing business. They can buy products and services at the click of a button, connect and communicate with companies 24/7 and can ask questions and receive responses in real time. They don't understand why the property industry and conveyancing hasn't caught up and why for many solicitors in particular the only online communications technology they do use is email.


Email was groundbreaking back in the 90s as a means of communication. Its still up there as one of the best. However, its not a good option for managing communication between multiple parties on property transactions and there are also issues around security. There have been numerous scams where fraudsters have hijacked email accounts, pretending to be the solicitor for example, and gone on to steal funds from the victim's bank account. There are so many ways fraudsters can send email and make it look like it comes from a genuine person or company by creating a fake email address or using an existing email account without permission.


It is also difficult to keep track of conversations using email. You can create folders and add rules to forward incoming messages to those folders, but it can still be cumbersome and confusing to manage. It is also easy to lose messages and difficult to keep track of attachments and conversations with multiple incoming and outgoing messages. This can be especially problematic in legal disputes or regulatory audits. Some property transactions may require specific legal forms, signatures, and disclosures that cannot be adequately conveyed through email. Compliance with legal requirements may also be compromised if email is used as the primary means of communication.


CENTRALISED COMMUNICATION TOOLS THAT ARE AVAILABLE NOW

There are already tons of apps and platforms that facilitate centralised communication, many of which are already being used by agents, solicitors and their clients. All have their own strengths and weaknesses. 


Case Management, Chain Management, CRMs and Portals
There are some exceptional systems and platforms out there that do their job very well in terms of running the business. But when it comes to centralised communication, many are not so effective. Managing day-to-day operations including communication with clients is relatively easy from a case management/CRM system, but engaing with multiple parties on transactions is less so. Agents and solicitors work on multiple cases at any one time so it would be an impossible task if they were expected to use multiple different apps and platforms to provide progress updates for example. 


There are numerous integrations and APIs currently available that successfully join up many of the available systems, but there is still a way to go before ALL solutions are properly integrated and can provide a simplistic, convenient way for all parties to engage effectively in one space. Many of these integrations also incur additional costs which is unaffordable for many businesses with the economy as it is right now.


WhatsApp
WhatsApp is a popular messaging app that allows users to send text messages, voice messages, photos, and videos to one another. Whilst it is a convenient way to communicate with friends and family, it is not considered by many as a suitable platform for communicating on property transactions - or indeed business generally. Even still, many agents, solicitors, buyers and sellers are using it for this very purpose.


Recent research showed that many employees are uncomfortable using WhatsApp for anything work related. They felt it imposed on their personal space where they chat with friends and family. They don't like that colleagues can see when they are active and that they are constantly being dragged into work related conversations. They also feel it isn't practical as find juggling multiple groups, sharing files etc. within the app is messy and difficult, particularly as many have user names rather than using their actual names. Employees also worry about accidently posting personal messages to a work chat and vice versa as there have been many stories were people have lost their jobs as a result of posting something innapropriate.


When it comes to secure messaging WhatsApp isn't as highly rated as you might think. It is aslo flooded with opportunistic fraudsters and is vulnerable to malware attacks. It is also not GDPR compliant which is why it certainly should not be used for property related matters. WhatsApp do share data with their partners as stated here which includes your contacts, your mobile phone etc.


WhatsApp is also rife with scammers. These include fraudsters impersonating relatives to deceive victims into sending money. Also, there are things like the app verification scam where they can take over your WhatsApp account and lock you out. Then there is the WhatsApp Gold scam where you receive an invitation to upgrade to WhatsApp Gold, a special edition offering premium features and service which is also a hoax. This installs malware on your phone that can steal sensitive information. Others include gift cards, lottery, crypto, QRCode and dating app scams. They can all trigger call forwarding and more on your device. The list is endless.


Social media generally is considered unsafe for dealing with the biggest asset most people will probably ever own. We've covered this topic in depth in other articles on WiggyWam so please check them out.


INTRODUCING CENTRALISED COMMUNICATION USING WIGGYWAM PROPERTY WORKSPACES

WiggyWam is a multi-faceted property platform that provides a completely different experience and a fun way to communicate centrally on property transactions. It has its own social networking technology where users become part of a UK-wide online community. Built into this community are Property Workspaces where all parties involved in a transaction can collaborate privately throughout the process. 
To follow are a couple of the key features of WiggyWam that support centralised communication between agents, solicitors and homemovers on property transactions.


Property Portal
The WiggyWam ecosystem includes a property portal that (like all major portals) centralises the estate agent's property listings and allows agents to setup feeds to import their properties automatically. Unlike other portals, when a user decides to make contact with the agent regarding a property, they can do so in real time via instant live chat, inbox messaging, video calling and through discussions in groups, forums and timelines across the site. The portal doesn't centralise communication around the transaction, but it is the begining of the process that brings the potential buyers into the fold. WiggyWam provides by far the most opportunities for agents (and solicitors) to engage with their target audience than any other platform out there!


Property Workspaces
When a property is first listed on WiggyWam (via the agent's feed or manually) a Property Workspace is automatically created and populated with basic details including an image of the property. These workspaces work similar to the Groups you will find on other social media platforms, where there is a group owner who manages it. The listing estate agent is automatically assigned as the workspace owner as we believe they are the 'natural' project managers. They are the first to engage with the seller capturing the initial upfront information, plus they are responsible for marketing the property and listing on the portals. They are also best placed for introducing any optional services that need to be ordered very early in the process that will help speed up the transaction, reduce financial risk should the deal fall through, save money on renewing searches etc. 


IMPORTANT: Estate agents who are listing their properties on WiggyWam should ensure the seller (their client) registers on the platform at the start of the process and that they assign their client to their own property workspace and tasks. This ensures communication is centralised from day one. 


Workspace Tasks and Milestones
These workspaces are only visible to the workspace owner (in this case the estate agent) and anyone they invite to join. They come pre-populated with generic tasks and milestones for the main parties involved in the transaction, so in addition to the selling agent and the vendor, they include milestones and tasks for each solicitor, plus the buyer and surveyor. Lenders and others can also be added as desired. Once a transaction has completed, members can then rate and review the project as a whole and also rate and review individual members. This feature is invaluable as limits opportunity for fake reviews as the transaction can be proved and all workspace members are known to eachother.

NOTE: workspace managers can delete or edit existing tasks and milestones, add new ones and set deadlines/target dates. Also, if for any reason an agent does not want the role of workspace manager, they can easily assign responsibility to someone else involved in the transaction. For a quick guide on managing and using workspaces check out our Learning Center (you will need to be logged in to view this).


For the buyer and seller the Property Workspaces provide an instant overview of all roles and responsibilities which takes away much of the uncertainlty around what happens, who does what and so on. Each party has their own specific task list which act as a prompt guiding them through what they need to do and when. As tasks are ticked off by any member of the workspace, all are notified instantly via their WiggyWam inbox notification system, plus they also receive an email to the address registered on their profile. If users prefer, they can change their notification preferences anytime so for example the updates aren't sent to their external email inbox.


Workspace File Sharing

Workspaces also allow for sharing of all types of files with the rest of the members including documents, spreadsheets, videos, audio and other media etc. 


Buyer Engagement and Workspace Onboarding

Buyers can search the portal and when they find a property they like, they simply register on WiggyWam so they can chat live with the agent or send them an inbox message. If they make an offer that is accepted, the agent can invite them into the associated property workspace and assign the buyer's task list to them. They can also obtain the buyer's solicitor details once appointed and invite them to join too along with any other relevant parties.

We'd love to hear your experience, thoughts and insights on this. Please post in the comments section below.
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Comments 3

Guest - Alfie on Monday, 20 March 2023 17:55

Why doesn't our estate angent and solicitor know about this property workspace? It sounds like exactly what we need right now. Our sale is taking forever. We put our place up for sale 11 months ago, found a buyer 9 months ago and still waiting. It is very stressful and I think disgraceful. Like you say we can do everything else instantly now so why can we not use this site to make things easier for us? I have sent the link to my estate agent and our solicitor as if this is available to us I want to know why thry haven't told us about it.

Why doesn't our estate angent and solicitor know about this property workspace? It sounds like exactly what we need right now. Our sale is taking forever. We put our place up for sale 11 months ago, found a buyer 9 months ago and still waiting. It is very stressful and I think disgraceful. Like you say we can do everything else instantly now so why can we not use this site to make things easier for us? I have sent the link to my estate agent and our solicitor as if this is available to us I want to know why thry haven't told us about it.
Guest - FrancisJ on Tuesday, 21 March 2023 22:04

We are first time buyers and disgusted at how long it has taken for us to purchase our flat. We hired a solicitor we found highly rated on Google. They are terrible at communicating with us. We have spoken to someone once in all the 6 months we have been going through this. I wish I knew that there were good and bad solicitors We thought they were all trustworthy and safe which is why we didn't think twice when we selected the one we did. I didn't know there would be a difference in the service or that the fact that mine was remote would be a problem. Why is nobody warning us about this? If they are watning us why don't I know about it as I don't know where to go to find this out. Sorry but your industry sucks!

We are first time buyers and disgusted at how long it has taken for us to purchase our flat. We hired a solicitor we found highly rated on Google. They are terrible at communicating with us. We have spoken to someone once in all the 6 months we have been going through this. I wish I knew that there were good and bad solicitors We thought they were all trustworthy and safe which is why we didn't think twice when we selected the one we did. I didn't know there would be a difference in the service or that the fact that mine was remote would be a problem. Why is nobody warning us about this? If they are watning us why don't I know about it as I don't know where to go to find this out. Sorry but your industry sucks!
Guest - Edna Newcastle on Tuesday, 21 March 2023 22:16

I just found this through Twitter. I didn't realise this existed. Can you please tell estate agents in Newcastle about this please and also the solicitors as my experience here is terrible. I am trying to sell my deceased father's property and nobody tells us anything. I keep messaging the estate agent, we are with yopa and nobody responds. Myself and my brother are very stressed out with the whole thing it is like nobody cares and nobody is there to help us.

I just found this through Twitter. I didn't realise this existed. Can you please tell estate agents in Newcastle about this please and also the solicitors as my experience here is terrible. I am trying to sell my deceased father's property and nobody tells us anything. I keep messaging the estate agent, we are with yopa and nobody responds. Myself and my brother are very stressed out with the whole thing it is like nobody cares and nobody is there to help us.
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