VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 28, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The next big thing in the real estate industry is about to hit the hot Ontario market.
It's called econveyance and it will eliminate much of the paperwork and make the process of transferring real estate much easier for legal professionals in busy law firms across Ontario.
It's been a huge success in the West, where 80% of the law firms doing real estate business in British Columbia's hot market use econveyance.
Econveyance is a cloud-based system — integrated into the B.C. government online services — that keeps data up to date, completes multiple documents with one input, can be used for title searches and maintains extensive libraries of professionals in the field. It can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. Gone are the days of the desktop approach and manual updating of tax and other information with CD-ROMs.
Chief executive officer Matthew Proud and his brother Tyler Proud acquired econveyance when they succeeded in a long and intense hostile takeover bid for OneMove Online Systems Inc., a Vancouver company in 2013 while it was listed on TSX Venture and took it private. Then Matthew Proud restructured it into a profitable company by putting in place an ambitious expansion plan and focusing on growing revenue and capturing market share.
"When we took over, we needed to restructure the company and we did that by putting in place a vision in which we focused more on sales and marketing, and expanding to new markets," he says.
Now the company is preparing to launch econveyance in Ontario, the biggest and richest real estate market in Canada thanks to the unstoppable growth of Toronto and the southern part of the province.
"We'll be ready to go in Ontario in September with a better platform than what is now available," Proud says. "We have a premium product at a competitive price. We are currently in our beta testing phase, with several large law firms, all who have been very positive about the product."
The company, which employs 25, already has a staff of four based at the company's office in Toronto and will be hiring more sales people before the launch.
"I am very excited," Proud says. "We are entering a market where the competition is complacent and takes their customers for granted. Here we are coming into Ontario, with what is arguably the best conveyancing software in the world, and we will be going up against competitors who have not seriously invested in the technology behind their systems for years."
Under Proud's stewardship, revenue is growing at an annual rate of 30%. The company, which also offers its product in rapidly expanding Alberta, plans to invade more real estate sweet spots by moving into booming Saskatchewan next year and then Manitoba.
There are international targets in Proud's sights too, with England and Hong Kong on the horizon — "anywhere that uses the Torrens system of land registration," which is the old British system, he says.
John Gibson, CEO of Integral Wealth Securities, who has advised Proud since his initial investment in OneMove in 2012, says "econveyance is a well-positioned SAAS technology platform ready to complete and replace incumbent players in today's high volume residential and commercial real estate market across Canada."
One of the most important steps the company undertook a few years ago was to upgrade the econveyance platform, putting it in the cloud to eliminate costly down time due to technical failures and making it much easier for their customers to use.
"If there is a problem or a disaster, we can have full recovery within 10 minutes without losing any data with our system now based in the cloud," says Philippe de Alberti, the company's chief technology officer, who joined the team 18 months ago to devise the upgrade.
The cloud technology also gives the company more flexibility and the means to grow in Ontario and elsewhere.
"We are now faster and bigger on the West Coast and we have the technical base in the East mirroring what we have in Vancouver," Alberti says. "If there is a problem, we just flip from one system to the other."
Clients have been very positive about econveyance.
"The customer support is tremendous," says Richard Bell of Bell Alliance Lawyers and Notaries Public in Vancouver.
Bell sees econveyance as "a strategic partner who is assisting us in the use of technology to support our client-focused real estate practice. We look forward to a long and mutually profitable relationship" with the company.
At the econveyance Very Helpful Desk, manager Eva Jensen, who has 14 years of experience in conveyancing, and her staff handle 60 to 70 calls in a typical day, helping paralegals and others pick their way through the system.
"We get a variety of calls, but many are from newer clients learning how to navigate through the system," she says. "Sometimes they want to know about property tax changes or updates in the GST. They also give us information on their own firms, so we can update libraries on law firms, real estate agencies, insurance companies and condo developments – all the people involved in the real estate industry."
The desk now operates during normal business hours but will expand to 11 hours a day when the business is launched in Ontario. Jensen says many features added to econveyance have come at the suggestion of clients. She cites the Completion Calendar, which displays all the client's files for the month and can easily be changed to display all of the firm's files.
"The calendar helps clients to prioritize their transactions," she says.
Prospective clients can test drive the services offered by econveyance by booking a demonstration that can last up to an hour. "It's interactive and an overview of our products. The demo is very good in helping potential clients make a decision," says sales manager Jaimie Cooke-Dallin, a former real estate paralegal who joined the team two years ago.
The demonstration begins with a PowerPoint presentation and then shows how to log in, enter data and complete files.
New clients undergo an in-depth training program with a dedicated trainer in B.C. and another in Alberta. A third is to be added in Ontario for the launch in September. Clients receive a preliminary three-hour training program and then a subsequent two-hour session in their specialty.
"We have had a great deal of success with our training programs and they are very beneficial for legal assistants and paralegals," says Cooke-Dallin. "Lawyers in B.C. will also receive continuing professional development (CPD) credits, in accordance with the Law Society of B.C., when they complete our training program." The econveyance program is now being taught in community colleges in B.C. and Alberta; graduates of paralegal courses can go right into jobs with a strong grasp of the program.
The company hopes to have the training offered in Ontario colleges soon.
In a solid endorsement, B.C. began offering the services of econveyance in 2013 through BC OnLine, the provincial government's Internet service, to the real estate industry.
BC OnLine says econveyance manages land transfers from start to finish. The program is able to perform searches such as those for land titles and enter information into conveyance forms eliminating data entry errors.
In a statement, BC Online says, "These benefits add up to a product that will make transferring land easier, reduce risk and position you (firms in the real estate industry) for the future of electronic filing in British Columbia."
Market One Media Group 604-428-2125