"Technology can help change the process for the better and it’s important that the conveyancing industry engages with it, and adapts to it, in order to ensure it is a real positive"
The Conveyancing Association has issued its formal response to the DCLG’s Call for Evidence on ‘improving the home buying and selling process’, saying the focus needs to be on ‘thinking big’ and not being constrained by the home buying process as it currently exists.
The CA believes greater digitisation will play a big role in the revamp, calling for the digitisation of local authority data sets and making other sets such as title, covenants, leases, etc, digitally accessible.
It also wants to see the launch of a digital signature of deeds in conjunction with the Land Registry as well as wider digitisation of Lang Registry registers and the creation of the Local Land Charge Register.
The CA expects Biometric ID verification and anti-money laundering checks to be introduced in order to identify not only the person being transacted with but also their relationship (or lack of it) to the property and the bank account to which proceeds are being sent.
Alongside the move to a digital-focused conveyancing process, the CA says the establishment of a property log book for each individual property would save wasted time in collating the same data on each transaction.
Other measures to speed up the process could include ensuring clients have a mortgage decision-in-principle before making an offer on a property, as well as sellers providing much greater upfront provision of data before marketing their property.
The CA believes financial penalties should be introduced for any party who then withdraws from the transaction.
It is also calling for greater levels of information to be supplied to consumers about the work of conveyancers in order to increase their knowledge of the service and help them understand what they should be looking for in a firm; plus the establishment of a Government-controlled website where consumers are exposed to the relevant information, explaining their options and the process.
Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association, commented: “Our focus in producing this response to the ‘Call for Evidence’ has been all about ‘thinking big’ and not being constrained by the home buying process as it currently exists, or by what has happened in the past. We feel this is a real opportunity to secure a process that works not just now but in the future and our response offers up advice and tangible solutions that we believe, if introduced, will secure a much smoother process but also significantly cut down on the 30% of transactions that currently fail each year. Failures which cost the consumer many millions of pounds.
“This response is all about delivering increased certainty for all parties and this is achievable if we improve the use of digital services and seek to use new and existing technology in order to cut down on duplication, to improve consumer understanding, to reduce wasted time, to guard against fraud, to cut out unnecessary costs and delays, the list goes on. Technology can help change the process for the better and it’s important that the conveyancing industry engages with it, and adapts to it, in order to ensure it is a real positive for our member firms.
“At our recent Annual Conference, the DCLG itself highlighted some of its initial thinking on the ‘Call for Evidence’ and the initial responses it has received. We are clearly on the same page in a number of areas and believe this response not only sets the scene for what is achievable, but provides real evidence via the work we have already carried out with members, particularly when it comes to the upfront provision of information, ID checks, reservation agreements, completion certainty, and others.
“We believe this is a crucial point in the evolution of the home buying process – indeed we might say this is the start of the revolution – and it’s therefore vitally important that all stakeholders make their voice heard, either via using our response or by making sure they send in theirs. The results of this ‘Call for Evidence’ will determine how the process evolves and we are looking forward to working with the DCLG, and all other stakeholders, to ensure we get a process fit for purpose now and in the future.”