Did you know that in most parts of Canada a real estate lawyer is necessary to process a housing-related transaction?
The conventional methods of buying and selling property often prove intricate and overwhelming, and that includes the tedious legal process. And yet, the legal stage of the home buying and selling process has been untapped. Until now.
Fintech.ca sat down with Robert Saunders, Co-Founder and CEO of Doormat, a Canadian proptech company and Ontario’s real estate lawyer, helping to simplify the legal process when it comes to home buying and selling.
How would you summarize technology’s role in the real estate industry to date?
RS: Technology has transformed various aspects of real estate. From online listing platforms, better access to financing options, improved building materials, data/analytics, and even unique ways to visit properties remotely using augmented or virtual realities.
At the end of the day, the role, or hope, of technology, regardless of the industry, is to simplify and solve daily problems. When it comes to real estate, whether you’re a buyer, a broker or a builder, I think we can all agree that technology can add more efficiency, transparency and convenience to the industry’s day to day.
Do you think Canadian proptech companies are redefining real estate?
RS: Of course! There are so many great companies that are paving the future of real estate. Just as Canadian fintech companies have helped to redefine finance, real estate is currently going through its own disruption, and we’re proud to be a part of that with Doormat.
The growth of Canadian proptech companies has allowed for new minds and perspectives to enter the real estate industry, which will only benefit the end consumer. The merging of the great minds that are already in real estate and the new minds that are entering via tech will, no doubt, collaborate to redefine the industry in a very positive way.
How much opportunity is there in the real estate industry for further technology integration? Have we reached its limits? If not, what are the limits?
RS: Real estate has traditionally lagged behind other sectors when it comes to technology adoption. As a result, there is still a huge opportunity for further technology integration. With proptech thriving more recently, the focus has been on the big, obvious problems. However, as the space matures, companies will begin to focus on the smaller (although still sizable), less obvious
concerns. This is where major innovation will happen. The everyday consumer may not even realize that the innovation was needed, but will ultimately reap the benefits.
It’s also important to realize that technology is always changing and there will consistently be new technology that can be applied to solve problems in even better ways. So no, I don’t feel that there are any limits because the boundaries are constantly changing.
What is Doormat doing that’s different from other proptech companies?
RS: Doormat is focusing on a part of the homeowner journey that has historically been underserved when compared to other segments of the industry along that journey. Doormat is focusing on the “last mile” of real estate transactions; what we call the “finalization” phase of the journey. Doormat simplifies all of the legal aspects involved in a transaction. At this point, other proptech companies have remained focused on solving problems related to the financing or property hunt stages of homeownership. What’s unique about Doormat is where we get involved in a homeowners journey and how we’re at the intersection of two sectors, real estate and law.
What are the benefits to the average Canadian, homeowners and homebuyers?
RS: Doormat simplifies the legal process around a real estate transaction by bringing greater transparency to the process through our online platform. With Doormat, homeowners and homebuyers are not left wondering what has to happen next to push their transaction forward and can see all of their documents and information in one central place. Our technology, paired with our team of experts (including a lawyer on every transaction) delivers an incredible experience that is technology-first but human centric when it matters. Since we offer a more streamlined approach, homeowners and homebuyers are able to save time, money, and, most importantly, are never left in the dark.
Are Canadians comfortable with technology when it comes to their property?
RS: Definitely, Canadians have embraced technology and are becoming increasingly more comfortable with it. They are used to technology being involved in all other aspects of their life (eg. investing, completing taxes, communication, etc.) so it’s often a surprise when they need to consume a solution that doesn’t involve technology. In fact, in our recent data survey, it showed that nearly two-thirds of Canadians (63%) would be comfortable engaging with an online real estate lawyer if it would save them time and money during the home buying and selling process. This is especially true for the younger generations that have grown up with technology and expect it to be a part of everything they do. The numbers don’t lie – 71% of Canadians aged 18 to 34 are comfortable engaging with an online real estate lawyer. This expectation and mindset has really helped with Doormat going to market as we’ve seen people be very excited when seeing a solution that leverages technology.
Where do you see the space heading in the next five years? How is legal tech going to advance the real estate industry?
RS: Over the next five years, I expect to see continued adoption of technology across the industry. Especially solutions that are more geared towards the consumer. As emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to develop at a rapid pace, I can see current technology start to become more personalized and efficient. This will bring great productivity to the industry, ultimately delivering faster turnaround times for the end user. It will reduce costs for services rendered (not the actual real estate prices themselves), which should benefit the end consumer’s wallet. We will also see a reduction of errors as parts of the real estate industry that are prone to human error become more automated and therefore, accurate.
As it relates to legal tech, in most parts of Canada, you need a lawyer to buy or sell property. So any technology that makes that process better for consumers or lawyers will only help streamline how real estate transactions are done. We’re incredibly excited about the role Doormat can play in the industry’s future to provide an even more efficient and optimal experience from a legal perspective.