Using the power of blockchain when buying a house

Recently I have gone through what can only be described as the laborious still paper-based process of buying a house. So I got to thinking there must be a quicker, more secure way of completing the process. One that makes the use of the technology available today.

As a first time buyer, I was blind, I never really had any idea what part of the process I was at, how long was left, all compounded by the vague answers from my solicitors. It seemed like I was waiting around for the endless packs to come through the post, sign and send back.

It seemed like this whole process could be digitalised. So I got my thinking hat on and started working on a new solution, one for the modern-day marketplace.

What if there was a single smart platform?

A place for all parties involved to communicate over? A portal where buyers/sellers can have a clear overview of their part in the process, with the next steps laid out for them. No hidden fees, no guessing games. Just clear concise information.

So… How would the process work?

With their offer accepted, Buyers have the ability to start the process by applying for and comparing a range of mortgage offers all from within the dashboard.

With the mortgage secured, the dashboard becomes the central hub for the buyer. Straight away the buyer has the ability to start on the paperwork supplied by the solicitor. No more waiting for a pack to come through the post, all accessible, all the time, from any device.

Managing expectations

With the documents now digitised, the progression is clear. With each document that is successfully completed via digital signatures, the percentage of the progression bar increases. Buyers are left with a clear overview of how far they are through the progress, whilst being shown the documents that need to be completed next.

For the solicitors or estate agents, the portal becomes an easy to manage overview of all their properties. No large paper trails, instead one clear picture.

Get a faster response with the inclusion of chatbots 🤖

One of the main gripes I had with the whole process was the ability to get hold of my solicitor. Often I would be met with the response:

“Sorry, she’s in a meeting” OR “Sorry, she’s not available, and I have no idea about your property, so I can’t help”

It sometimes felt like I had to precisely time my call to get any success. 
But what if there was a more convenient way to get what is often functional information? People are looking to interact with people less and less when trying to find out purely functional information. Most often we just want to receive the information in the quickest way possible.

Often I felt that most of my queries needed a small answer and a chatbot would have instantly solved this, leaving me as the buyer satisfied and the solicitor uninterrupted. Leaving only serious queries to be escalated to a phone call.

But wait, we can go another step further 😎

What if we can leverage emerging technologies to help not only speed up the process, but also make it virtually risk free from mistakes or fraud?

Enter blockchain…

A blockchain essentially consists of records (“blocks”) that are inextricably linked and secured (into the “chain”) using cryptography (think bitcoin or ethereum). These records then exist via a ledger system that creates an open-source, decentralised place for exchanging all types of information and transfers of value.

Using blockchain for this process allows us to use what is known as smart contracts, which is a set of digital protocols that can run a series of commands set out in a contract. The protocols use a series of complex functions, which even allow aspects of a contract to be made partly or fully self-executing when specific conditions are met. For example the transferring of titles can be automated, instead of waiting for a solicitors to manually transfer details. Meaning a quicker process and stopping any potential for human errors or even fraud.

Property title fraud alone costs the Land Registry approximately £10 million in indemnifying homeowners on an annual basis.

A quick breakdown of the process so, because well… everyone loves pictures 🖼️

Smart contracts have what is referred to as “triple entry bookkeeping”, written in software code effectively form part of a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation.

Wait… What’s a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation?

Or a DAO for short, it’s where decisions are made electronically by a written computer code or through the vote of its members. In essence it is a system of hard coded rules that define which actions an organisation will take.

So, once a transaction is agreed, it is sent to the public ledger that I mentioned before, which operates on a open sourced basis via multiple servers known as nodes.

Each transaction within the network has its own unique digital ID “block” after all information related to transferring the title, deed and associated contracts are validated. Once this process is complete, the data “blocks” are permanently placed onto the “chain” and the transaction is complete.

Leaving all parties with a unforgeable, time-stamped digital signature, meaning the integrity of the transaction is guaranteed, an immutable ledger of sorts. Where all the deeds, mortgage information, property records are stored and accessible much quicker, but more importantly, securely.

And with your house purchase complete, now I will remove my thinking hat for today. Thank you for taking the time to read the article, and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

See you again soon 🤘

Author Adam Weekes
Designer at Dootrix

Adam has been growing his Design utility belt over the years. Working closely with some of the biggest forward thinking companies to the most innovating start ups around.

Having had the pleasure of working in all areas of design, from helping to craft stand out branding and copywriting to animating a scene or two. But more often than not it’s helping companies optimise their user experience for digital products and apps.

Along his journey so far he’s had the pleasure of working with the likes of L’Oreal, Nandos, Subway, Barclaycard, Sony and Vue cinemas.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 320,924+ people.

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