Probably the worst aspect of buying and selling a house is The Chain.
The person buying my flat, was selling their last one. I was selling him mine and buying a house from someone else, who was selling her’s and buying another one from someone who was doing the same … ad infinitum …
This chain extended to something like 8 or 9 households.
The way it works in the UK is that all of these transactions must be completed in one day, this is called the exchange.
Each link in the chain is only very loosely connected, I could pass a message up or down the chain, via the solicitor or estate agent but only as far as the next link. I knew other links existed but had no way to either contact them or know how many there were. This communication soon becomes a game of Chinese Whispers as questions and answers pass up and down.
On this deal, we attempted to exchange 3 times before it was successful. The exchange failed 2 times, a very harrowing experience!
The reason it failed each time was different but it all boiled down to this lack of communication up and down the chain.
One time it broke because one of the solicitors had not turned up for work that day, the other time because someone had forgotten to sign a document. Each solicitor has many careful preparations and checks to make, even if just one of those is not ready, the whole exchange collapses.
It all seemed so unnecessary and complex!
Being a software developer I started thinking, there has to be an app for that!
Recently I started thinking that the Blockchain could be a solution.
It would not need to contain any private information. Each solicitor would record the status of their preparations each day, all of the other solicitors could see the state of everyone on the chain. Messages could be pushed up and down the chain. Everything is recorded in a cryptographically provable and unalterable way.
So that’s great! The boss of my selling estate agent loved the idea!
So yeah, I can dream up the idea, I could even write the app but creating the business and getting every estate agent and solicitor in the land to sign up for it is way outside of my skill set.
Maybe someone with better business skills than me will find this article one day and make it happen.