By Huntley Mitchell , originally published in The Adviser
Conveyancing is set to reach a whole new level, thanks to one Melbourne-based technology company. Technology continues to revolutionise the financial services industry, brokers are always on the lookout for the next big idea that could make them and their business more efficient and more in touch with today’s world.
This Australian technology company has created an open, cloud-based platform designed to make the property transaction process faster, easier and more collaborative.
Rundl’s founder and director, Graeme Perkins, says the main feature of the platform is its ability to speed up communications and document sharing between consumers, brokers, lenders, aggregators, real estate agents, accountants, conveyancers, lawyers and insurance firms during the sale or purchase of a property.
Industry professionals can spend hours answering the same questions and chasing up updates by phone and email, which Mr Perkins says is not the most productive way to use their time.
“We’re really trying to get to the source of one of the main problems in the industry – working together to help the customer get from point A to point B,” he says.
“Right now, customers have a range of professional and service providers working on their behalf to get them there, but they all work in a disjointed and disconnected way. We’re trying to bridge the gap between collaboration among people and the software that they use to do this.”
Rundl uses a Facebook-style news feed to give clients step-by-step advice rather than dumping a mass of information on them at the start of the process.
Clients can allow all relevant parties in the property transaction access to their Rundl page as well as post updates and upload documents, which allows parties to monitor the settlement process while reducing the delays that come from waiting for emails and phone calls to be returned.
Rundl’s sales director, Phil Mitchell, says the company’s goal was to create one online network to connect experts within the property industry so that all elements of the property transaction process can be completed easily – ultimately providing a better customer experience.
“We’re trying to create an environment that keeps all of the relevant services together in context, and allows the broker some level of exposure and updates them on what’s going on,” he says.
Mr Perkins is noticing an online shift within the property industry in regards to the way agents and brokers operate their businesses, and sees Rundl as being at the centre of this shift.
“What we want to do is bring people and the tools together to enable them to do conveyancing in a way where people don’t need to come together physically to get things done,” he says.
Mr Mitchell says that even though there are parallel processes such as legal, insurance and real estate, the platform allows the broker to be kept updated on everything and to be alerted if there is a problem or something that sparks their interest.
“Our research has proven that brokers are very careful and considerate with their clients, because they typically meet them at the beginning of their journey and are usually there until settlement, so they like to be kept in the loop throughout the whole process.
That’s what Rundl is designed to do,” he explains.
One of the key features of Rundl is its client ID verification system, which meets the legislative requirements that have been introduced for electronic conveyancing.
Mr Mitchell says this feature will make a big difference to the speed of the property transaction process while giving brokers and their clients the flexibility to choose the option that best suits them.
“For example, there are a number of scenarios where a broker has a client who’s working in a different state, so they’re not able to see them in person to complete their verification of identity. They may need to be able to send someone to nearby where the client is working or living in order to achieve that,” he says.
In addition, Rundl enables brokers to provide clients with a contract summary that includes important information about the property transaction in a brief and easy-to-read format.
Brokers can also provide a premium contract review, which is designed to give clients peace of mind and complete assurance before they commit to a property purchase.
Mr Mitchell says it is exciting that Rundl has now been released as an open platform after six years of market testing across more than 10,000 property transactions.
“Rundl has been used exclusively by a boutique law firm called Lawlab, which specialises in property transactions,” he says.
Lawlab managing director Ian Perkins says the platform gives brokers control of the settlement process without paying for it, while allowing other parties to do their job too.
Brokers can access Rundl and export information while remaining in their own platforms, he explains.
They can also use their platforms to automatically refer clients to Lawlab in exchange for a commission.
In addition to its existing legal client base, Rundl has recently completed integrations with key real estate CRM providers and conveyancing management systems.
Mr Mitchell says Rundl is turning the heads of brokerages, lenders and aggregators who are realising how the platform can help their business.
“They’re involved in a piece of the journey, but their external systems don’t extend to everybody – to the complete outcome – and that’s where they’re starting to show interest,” he says.
“We are open to any brokers and lenders who are interested in piloting Rundl and seeing what it can do for their business.”
Mr Perkins adds that the industry figures he has spoken to recognise that there is a shift underway towards e-conveyancing.
“They’re interested in what’s changing and are looking at us as a way to get on board,” he says.
“We want to be a part of Australia’s emerging e-conveyancing network.
As e-conveyancing becomes a reality, it’s all about the tools that they will need, such as online identity verification [and] electronic signatures” Rundl has a core team of developers who have worked together for many years, and the firm also employs contractors for specialised tasks.
“The team is growing. We’re actively looking for technology focused engineers and software developers,” Mr Mitchell explains.
“As our momentum builds and the demand for our product features increases, we need good people to keep driving forward,” he says. “So that’s one of the key challenges right now – finding the right people that will enable us to grow.”
“Right now, customers have a range of professional and service providers working on their behalf to get them there, but they all work in a disjointed and disconnected way. We’re trying to bridge the gap between collaboration among people and the software that they use to do this” The advantages of e-conveyancing According to PEXA, the government agency that is overseeing the rollout of a national electronic conveyancing system, e-conveyancing will significantly reduce the cost and time involved in the residential lending process.
In its submission to the Financial System Inquiry last year, PEXA said e-conveyancing would allow unencumbered property purchases with available funds to be settled “within days rather than months”.
It also estimated that the conveyancing costs associated with buying or selling a property would fall by $120 to $150 per transaction.
PEXA said e-conveyancing would boost competition within the mortgage market by reducing any scale-cost advantages that the major banks have in processing mortgages.
The agency also said the introduction of electronic mortgages with standardised terms and conditions would allow greater transportability of mortgages and make it harder for banks to impede customers who want to refinance.
“Refinancing will be considerably easier and rates likely to be more competitive from smaller financial institutions,” the submission said.
PEXA forecast that a national e-conveyancing system would allow smaller lenders to “capture a greater share of the market” from the big four banks.
“Smaller banks and nonbank financial institutions see e-conveyancing, standardised mortgage discharge authorities and e-mortgages – with the appropriate protocols agreed – as solutions to reduce the barriers to lending and increase competition for mortgages,” it said.
By the end of 2015, all states except the ACT will be part of a national e-conveyancing system and will have completed the appropriate systems upgrades, according to PEXA.