The importance of prioritising digitalisation, especially AI

21st September 2023

Andrew Lloyd discusses the importance of prioritising digitalisation, especially AI, in the property sector

Our vision has always been to digitise the real estate market. Our first Machine Learning (ML) application received industry recognition as thought leaders in the property data space, and in 2019, we were the sole property data provider in the UK’s first Blockchain property trial. We know that digital-first solutions are the key to unravelling some of the challenges that face the sector, and always want to be leading the pack in this area.

To further this goal, we have already been utilising and benefitting from the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) internally with the launch of ChatGPT beta testing within our platform, marking another industry first for us. Our proprietary AI tool has been trained to read vast volumes of local authority data, especially focusing on CON29s and LLC1s. It then reviews and creates an exceptions report that lawyers can digest with relative ease. ChatGPT is plugged in to answer questions about this data and the resulting report, allowing lawyers to get real-time, accurate answers to queries that arise. The integrated generative language model is poised to answer both a selection of pre-formed questions, as well as bespoke queries in an instant.

Why is this important? AI is providing quick solutions to long-standing industry challenges for real estate lawyers. These are solutions that can be implemented now and that have real impact to client experience and commercial bottom lines. In a property transaction market where lawyers are under increasing workload pressures, and caseloads mount while staff are squeezed, AI innovation for the industry is a key tool in reducing human error, as well as saving crucial time and money. Search Acumen has calculated that the average firm stands to save 115 hours a month through automation, while the sector as a whole stands to save over eight million hours each year through end-to-end digitisation, with firms working on complex commercial cases set to save even more, allowing lawyers to focus on what they do best.

Data also shows some 40% of property sales are falling through before completion – generally increasing month on month. Today, the need has never been so acute for firms to seek efficiencies and improve the system. At a time of significant economic headwinds, it is vital that those involved in the property purchase journey use technology and integrate AI, to weed out avoidable errors and minimise delays.

Looking back on the last ten years, we must recognise the incredible contribution of real estate legal professionals first and foremost. Equally, we need to understand that a decade of rapid technological advancement has built new resilience and put the sector in a position to thrive, even in the most challenging of contexts.

We have seen increasing adoption of digital solutions, analytics, big data, and transformative tech like AI and ML. Without these technologies the market’s performance, especially during the pandemic, might have been markedly different. Similarly, the ability of the sector to grow and deal with future challenges in the decade to come will depend on further technological innovation working alongside committed implementation and a favourable policy environment.

However, noting the number of stakeholders involved in the property purchase journey and therefore the number of variables at play, the speed of the transaction is not only linked to tech. Searches take time, sellers and buyers change their minds, and each local authority will be working differently.

To truly affect change in the industry, advancement in the adoption of AI cannot happen in isolation. We must see it utilised effectively across a number of the cogs in the wheel of the transaction process, and across both public and private sectors, which currently face some sizeable roadblocks. It will be businesses that embrace technology and use it to meet consumer expectations that will always prosper over others.

At the moment, technology is moving faster than property law systems. That being said, currently, we believe it cannot completely replace the important work that real estate lawyers undertake today. Can a lawyer be replaced by AI? Today the answer is no. It is those higher-value tasks that require human expertise that cannot be replicated by a machine. It’s unlikely 20 years of sector knowledge, nor the ability to negotiate, will ever be truly replicated.

The success of the use of AI alongside human nuance is only as good as the quality of the data available to feed into the technology. This is where Search Acumen comes in. We are working to anticipate change and are building a digital infrastructure now that will support the processes of the future. We can provide tools, access, and products that can be fed to automated systems, to produce documents such as lending offers, AML, title deeds and more. If bots have access to the right data, the uses are limitless.


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Over a decade ago, we set out to shape the way PropTech works for commercial real estate firms. We’ve been turning that vision into a reality ever since, not just as a tech provider, but as a trusted partner too.

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