At KeyStone, as we continue to ramp up and increase our property portfolio, some of the challenges with the UK’s conveyancing process are becoming clear; our internal data shows that the average time from the acceptance of an offer on a property to the completion of purchase is approximately 16 weeks. In addition to the lead time, other challenges include the extensive fees to multiple parties involved in each stage of the process and the risk that the transaction can fall through at any time. There are clearly plenty of opportunities for improvement.
One possible solution is being trialled in our very own United Kingdom by Her Majesty’s Land Registry under their Digital Street research project. They aim to become “the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data”. At the heart of this initiative is the adoption of blockchain technology to make the process of “buying and selling property simpler, faster and cheaper”.
One trial run consisted of taking an existing transaction that had already been completed the old-fashioned way – taking a protracted 22 weeks to process fully – and then re-enacting it with a new digital method.
In this one experiment, a smart contract made it between all seven of the various parties involved in the transaction in under ten minutes. Every step of the change was also reflected in the test version of the Land Register.
But what is a ‘smart contract’? It’s a new blockchain-based technology where a contract will only be complete when all the specific terms are met. This means that one side can’t trick the other and there’s no need for an intermediary or middle-man of any kind.
In time, we at KeyStone hope that not only will the full adoption of this technology improve the integrity and approachability of conveyancing, but also reduce costs. We are working closely with a number of key stakeholders to progress this significant transformation and will share our progress in the future.