New online tool to check property chains

View my Chain is a Yorkshire innovation
View my Chain is a Yorkshire innovation
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Prop-tech entrepreneur Sohail Rashid has invented an online tool that to speed up home sales. Sharon Dale reports.

Finding a buyer is a cause for celebration for most sellers but, as estate agents know, it’s far too early to crack open the champagne. Pushing a sale through to exchange of contracts and completion is the most difficult part of the process.

Three in ten property sales fall through, according to a survey by Which? It shows that a fifth of buyers withdrew after finding another home to buy, while 15 per cent simply changed their minds and decided they didn’t like the property after all. Four per cent of sales break down after a disagreement between buyer and seller. The longer a deal takes to go through, the more danger there is of it collapsing.

Recognising that speed is vital, Leeds-based prop-tech entrepreneur and data strategist Sohail Rashid has come up with a software package that tracks the conveyancing process and flags up any issues.

There is excitement in the industry about View My Chain, which allows estate agents and their clients access to conveyancing information in double quick time without the need for laborious phone calls or emails. It costs each agency branch £235 per month and Property Industry Eye, which tested the system, described it as “one of the best pieces of innovation” it has seen.

The software allows an agent to create a “chain” using the address of each property involved. Every milestone, from searches to drafting contracts, is monitored along with expected delivery times. Any delays are flagged up in a “lag alert” allowing the agent and seller to be proactive and chase their buyer/conveyancer.

A third of estate agencies are now said to be using it and report that sales are taking about 15 days less than the average 94 days to complete.

Sohail, a former property lawyer and a Team GB power lifter able to lift weights of 180kg plus, says: “It automatically tracks 60 different data points without the need for the agent, conveyancer or consumer to enter the information manually. We use publicly available information, including local authority searches and Land Registry data, among other things. So, for instance, if there has been no activity seven days after a price has been agreed, View My Chain will send a lag alert saying ‘no contracts have been issued and this will negatively impact completion’.

“It offers transparency and efficiency. Our tests have already shown that being informed in this way cuts down on the number of calls, emails and letters between agents, sellers, buyers and conveyancers. It saves agents’ time and money and makes sellers feel more in control. Most importantly, it reduces the time it takes to get a property from sale to completion.”

Part of his motivation for inventing View My Chain was the “archaic systems” and lack of tech awareness in some estate agencies.

“About 75 per cent of estate agencies do not have a sales progressor whose job it is to track sales and troubleshoot. Most use archaic systems like spreadsheets. View My Chain is about empowering good estate agents and getting rid of unnecessary administration. For their customers, it’s about allowing them to track their sale in the way that Amazon and Dominos allows shoppers to track a purchase.”

His ambition is to halve the average time from agreeing a sale to completion from 13 weeks to seven. In the meantime, here are some tips on how to avoid chains from David Blake at Which? Mortgage Advisers:

*Look for a seller who isn’t in a chain. If you’re buying and can afford to be picky, look for properties where the upward chain is short or, even better, non-existent.

*If you’re selling and have multiple offers on the table, choose a buyer who isn’t in a chain themselves, such as a first-time buyer.

*It’s worth considering selling your property and moving into short-term rented accommodation or with family or friends. You’ll then be chain-free.

*New-build homes have no upward chains for obvious reasons – and if you’ve got a property to sell, the developer may offer part-exchange.