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First Digital Mortgage Deed

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Within the last week we have witnessed the first digital mortgage deed entered into the Land Registry without the need for a witness to watch a homeowner leave an ink signature. For a system that is notoriously slow to modernise - this is a landmark moment for modernisation.

The online verification was completed for a property in Rotherhithe, London, as part of a trial being carried out with Coventry Building Society. The Land Registry hopes that moving to online verification will help make the process quicker and more secure for homeowners, replacing the need for them to physically sign their mortgage deed.

Graham Farrant, chief land registrar, said: “By working with partners in the industry, we have secured a simpler and faster service for the benefit of homeowners. We are looking forward to rolling this out nationally and will be working with more conveyancers and lenders to do so.”

Why is this happening?

The new digital mortgage deed is part of the Land Registry’s plan to transform the conveyancing market by offering digital services. It hopes to use technology to make transactions instantaneous where possible. The service is initially being trialled for people re-mortgaging, but will be rolled out to include purchases if successful.

Who does it affect?

The use of the new technology is good news for homeowners in England and Wales looking to re-mortgage. It signals an end to the days where people had to find someone to witness them sign a piece of paper, which then had to be sent to the Land Registry, running the risk that it could be lost in the post.

With the new technology, people can now sign their mortgage deed online at their own convenience, confirming their identity through the Government’s secure GOV.UK Verify platform.
While the service is currently only available to people re-mortgaging through Coventry Building Society, the Land Registry hopes to roll out the service to re-mortgage customers with other lenders in the near future.

What’s the background?

The move is part of the Land Registry’s transformation plan, under which it hopes to become the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data. It receives around 20,000 applications to change the Land Register each day, with around 650,000 applications received through the post in 2016/2017. The Land Registry aims to digitise and automate 95% of these transactions by 2022 to speed up the process for straightforward updates.

It has also set the target of having all land and property in England and Wales registered, and plans to publish a wide variety of the data it holds to enable it to be used by people with an interest in the property market. The Land Registry safeguards ownership of land and property collectively worth £4tn, around £1tn of which is mortgaged.

Article taken in part from a report written by Nicky Burridge for

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