For most people, buying a house is something they may do three or four times in their lifetime. In the intervening years, processes and procedures change, or buyers and sellers simply forget the sequence of events that has to happen to successfully complete a property transfer. However, the sector’s ongoing optimisation hinges on ironing out inefficiencies between parties in the transfer of ownership process, says Clive Bredenkamp, Proptech IT Executive at fintech specialist, e4.
e4 has been at the forefront of the digital transformation of the proptech sector for over 20 years. The company has over 60 technical solutions that form part of the property transfer value chain, linking buyers, sellers, conveyancers, lenders and other stakeholders involved in the property transfer ecosystem.
Already, approximately 85% of South African home loans are processed involving e4 technology in some way, and this is set to extend across the entire spectrum of property transfer transactions, making the process more transparent, safer, and quicker for everyone.
There are often more than 10 parties involved in the sale and transfer of a single property, from the sellers, buyers, transferring attorneys, cancelling attorneys, registering attorneys, the deeds office, SARS, banks and other financial institutions, municipalities and entities that issue compliance documents to finalise the transfer.
In the past, the entire process was paper-based requiring multiple copies of documents for signature. Documents had to be couriered sequentially from one party to the next until all copies were signed by all parties. Despite South African transfer and registration processes being highly advanced in terms of legislation and the protection of both buyers and sellers, being paper-based has been expensive, cumbersome and time-consuming.
Now, with the advent of secure platforms which allow for the digital switch of documents via application processing interfaces (APIs), the majority of the property transfer process has been digitised and streamlined with the help of e4 products and services.
The functionality of e4’s technology has radically reduced the workload and time spent by attorneys and other official parties on a property transfer, and the net result for the consumers – the buyers and sellers ‒ is the significant enhancement and quickening of the process and improved overall user experience. Platforms are secure, data is gathered and stored in compliance with POPIA legislation, encrypted and transmitted via APIs in real-time.
What the future looks like
e4’s solutions remove risky and time-consuming manual processes involved in the transfer of a property and tie all stakeholders together with end-to-end solutions on one technical platform. When the South African Deeds Office eventually digitises its processes (they are currently working on the Electronic Deeds Registry System, or EDRS), e4’s offerings are poised to support the “last mile” of registration in the Deeds Office, digitising the full process. With the introduction of a digital ledger of properties in the Deeds Office, buyers will have the peace of mind that they do indeed have ownership of a title deed in an incorruptible form. “Everything we do, is about providing tech solutions to make the ownership of property faster, secure, and more transparent” says Bredenkamp.
In part thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic which lowered the barriers to the adoption of web-based and paperless technology, thereby speeding up the digitisation of many systems, e4 has been able to grow and develop its proptech offering in the property sector.
e4’s products, which have become key at every step in the transfer process, have significantly improved the digital environment for property transfers, allowing those involved in its execution to work more efficiently, smartly and safely, and allowing buyers and sellers to be both observers and participants in their own home buying process.