The conveyancing industry is seeing a slow move to embrace the internet and cloud computing, compared to other industries. The insurance industry took the leap, and even healthcare is (http://cloudindustryforum.org/news/198-nhs-takes-first-step-to-storing-patient-information-in-the-cloud)[pushing it’s confidential data to the cloud in order to shape a patient centric care system].
Moving forward in a highly fragmented industry that has processes decades old is a challenge. At least The Law Society is attempting by building a cloud based Conveyancer Portal, even if it does seem to be taking an age.
There is a good argument as to why moving to cloud shouldn’t happen fast: Doing it right, is more important than doing it quick. If mistakes are made, then conveyancers will be the ones that lose out.
So the industry moves slowly, and rightly so, because of its complexity. But does it move too slowly?
The affect the internet is having on agencies
For estate agents, the race is heating up. The traditional high street agents feel under threat, and are staking their claim that they can provide a better service than the new ‘hip’ online only estate agencies. I tend to agree with them on this.
The real problem is that offering a better service probably isn’t going to be enough.
History might be able to lend a here. When consumers led the move to MP3’s becoming the preferred format of music, lots of record shops went out of business over following five years. In a way the consumers lost out too, the quality of an MP3 was less than that of the other formats out there.
On the whole the consumers did not care that CD’s were sampled at 320kbps, and that MP3’s were a mere 128kbps - any non-technophobe does not know there is a difference. What mattered was MP3’s were cheaper and easier to use.
Quality lost out and I believe the same will happen with estate agents. As with any industry, the very best always survive. Perhaps by offering an internet/in person hybrid service. But often they end up serving what becomes a niche market - record shops no longer serve the wider public, they serve the die hard music fans.
Will what happens to the agents have an effect on conveyancing?
Internet based estate agencies will push property transactions in a high volume, low value manor. They will be initiating the relationship with the buyers and sellers on a much greater scale, with no existing relationships to the high street conveyancer.
In the same way the lender panels have an iron fist like control over conveyancers where you must do it their way or be sent to the Gulag, large online estate agencies may soon be able to flex the same muscles.
Could agency panels become a reality?
In the end, nearly all of the risk is placed on the conveyancer. The client doesn’t appreciate this. The question that conveyancers should ask themselves is – Will clients soon sacrifice the quality of conveyancing to save money?