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Simplifying the sale-to-settlement journey

By Zarah Torrazo
16 September 2022 | 13 minute read
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With property’s time-honoured status as the most valuable asset that Aussies will own in their lifetime, this expert says it is vital for the process involved in securing a property to be “as secure, reliable and as efficient as possible”.

Amanda Chase is the chief growth officer at Deep Blue Company (DBC), a group of businesses striving to simplify the sale-to-settlement journey for all Australians. 

In this REB exclusive, Ms Chase — whose role at the digital conveyancing company spans across business, people and digital leadership — shared why the need for a streamlined process emerged in the market. 

“In Australia, we have been transacting on property for over 150 years and yet the industry still looks much the same in 2022 as it did back then. In a century and a half the process of selling and settling a home has remained largely unchanged,” she shared. 

While technology had made leaps and bounds over the last century and a half with the advent of mobile phones, internet and electric lightning, Ms Chase expressed her view that the sale-to-settlement journey has remained archaic. 

“It seems absurd that in the same time frame the sale-to-settlement journey has barely advanced beyond its paper-based roots,” she commented. 

When looking at the current state of conveyancing, she criticised that the “lack of transparency, efficiency and standardisation” can make the process a tedious one for consumers. 

“There are several hoops (often the same ones like verification of identity) to jump through during the process, with up to eight separate parties involved,” she revealed. 

Recognising the need for simplified processes, she reflected on how DBC was established in 2010 with a mission to champion digital conveyancing and digitise the whole of the sale-to-settlement process.

“We believe everyone should have access to transparent and easy-to-understand information at every point of the property journey,” Ms Chase stated. 

Driven by its overarching goal to transform the property transaction process, DBC has added various technologies and services to its portfolio over the years, welcoming several entrants into its stable of brands, including bytherules, conveyancing.com.au, First Class Legal, Rapid Building Inspections, and Offer to Own.

Recently, the company marked its 10-year run by celebrating a milestone of securing 7.8 per cent of market share — making it 20 times larger than the nearest competitor in the same category.

Ms Chase gave a behind-the-scenes look at how the company tackles the different gaps and bumps in the sale-to-settlement road by detailing how their Offer to Own platform — launched in November 2021 — came into being. 

“Our research showed that buyers sometimes weren’t confident that agents had received their offer, we also heard that agents wanted to know what was happening with the conveyancer as they were often kept out of the loop,” she revealed.

To address this issue, she said that Offer to Own was introduced as a platform that integrates with agency CRMs and gives buyers the ability to get digital offers to agents immediately after attending an open home.

“Digitising this process has created a seamless and transparent experience, which, we hope, makes the property journey a less daunting one for buyers, and a more transparent one for agents,” she stated.

But Ms Chase revealed that it was not just companies like DBC that furthered the digital shift in the property conveyance space.  

The executive revealed that current market trends — including the changing habits of buyers and sellers over the last few unpredictable years —  also had a hand in the digital transformation of property transactions. 

“As a $9 trillion industry, property is one of the most important sectors for the Australian economy. Yet, the process of buying and selling is complex, fragmented and sluggish. 

“It is an inefficient and ambiguous process that can leave people confused in what can be a pretty stressful time. Today, buyers and sellers are demanding more. In a digitally-led world, we expect greater transparency and efficiency from all our interactions and the property process is no different,” she stated. 

She predicts that the sector’s reliance on digital technology is “only going to increase” as convenience becomes king not just for buyers and sellers, but for the real estate industry as well. 

Ms Chase stated that improving the transaction process will provide the much-needed convenience to all parties involved. 

“Streamlining the sale-to-settlement journey means that all information is ‘symmetrical’, that is, all parties have the same information at the same time and there are no hidden agendas or surprises down the track. 

“This makes life easier for both agent and buyer alike, as it significantly cuts down admin hours which have traditionally made up a large portion of the property purchasing experience. From an agent perspective, this is a game changer as it gives them more time to support buyers through each step of the property journey,” she explained. 

And despite the significant headway made in improving the digital conveyancing process, Ms Chase admitted that there are more areas that need to be improved. 

“There’s certainly still work to be done, and a transparent and efficient process is needed for much more of the process than just settlement,” she professed. 

She highlighted that the lack of standardisation is an “industry-wide problem” that encompasses several areas, including property transactions, state processes, lawyers, contracts, real estate agencies, and financial institutions. 

“For example, the contract of sale is not just different from state to state, but also from lawyer to lawyer. In Queensland, a contract could be as little as five pages, and in Victoria it could be as many as 40 pages! This can throw buyers out of whack and results in a lack of confidence in an already complex and tedious system,” she revealed.

And despite acknowledging it as an enormous undertaking, Ms Chase shared that DBC is not slowing down anytime soon to achieve its mission. 

While the market has been able to weather the unpredictability in the last few years due to the pandemic, there are still headwinds that the company and the real estate industry are bracing for, such as rising inflation, increasing interest rates and a predicted market downturn. 

“With these macro uncertainties, more than ever, buyers and sellers want a sense of more control over the property process, and to get that they need a transparent, reliable and efficient sale-to-settlement process. We continue to gear up to offer them just that,” she stated. 

“There are plenty of ways to digitally innovate the sale-to-settlement journey and we’re always looking for new ways to add value to the sector and grow — whether this be through new products or refining our existing business model.”

On a personal note, Ms Chase finds her role within the firm vanguarding the digital transformation to be “interesting” as “no day is ever the same”. 

“My work can range from approving or removing blockers on projects, to undertaking mentoring and coaching work. A large focus area is on driving growth through green field product development, creating new channels of acquisition, and strategic partnership development,” the executive stated. 

Moving forward, the executive stated that DBC would remain steadfast in its commitment to simplifying the conveyancing process. 

“[Digitisation] is crucial to keeping up with changing consumer demands and transforming a traditionally arduous process into something that’s easily accessible for everyday Australians. We’re excited to continue championing digital transformation of sale-to-settlement and making it that much easier for people to get on the property ladder,” she concluded.

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