A conveyancers’ trade body has told the government that it wants the house buying process to be modernised by having estate agents licensed and ensuring sellers provide search, title and survey-style information ‘up front’ in the form of a property log book.
In a proposal very reminiscent of the controversial Home Information Packs introduced in the early 200s by the then-Labour government, the Conveyancing Association says the provision of such a log book would be an essential element in speeding up and modernising the house buying process.
The CA makes the proposals in its submission to the Call For Evidence made by the Department of Communities and Local Government as part of its process to improve the home buying and selling process. This consultation process closed last evening.
The CA’s response is drawn from a 10-point plan, outlined at various stages over the past year.
Key suggestions and proposals include:
- “Sellers should be encouraged to provide much greater upfront provision of data before marketing their property including (when such information is available digitally): title data; a comprehensive conveyancing property information form; search data; and structural information. This information would then become part of the property log book”;
- “The establishment of a property log book for each individual property in the UK detailing all required information which would save wasted time in collating the same data on each transaction”;
- “The licensing of estate agents and the requirement of agents to pass a fit and proper person test in order to trade. The CA is generally supportive of the use of referral fees as they often provide transparency and deliver enhanced service levels due to the agreements in place”;
- “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”;
- “Digitally-available search data in order to populate a property’s information forms on marketing; reducing the number of questions within search requests to ensure they are relevant; digitising local authority data sets and making other sets such as title, covenants, leases, etc, digitally accessible”;
- “Moving to a digital-focused conveyancing process allowing the home mover to access information when it suits them; enabling quicker collation of data in order to advise the client; developing Blockchain solutions to further secure transactions and protect client money through the dis-intermediated distribution of funds on completion and verification of data which can then be accessed upon the next dealing with the property; introducing machine-readable, digital and intelligent transaction forms”;
- “Government encouragement for the provision of a digital signature of deeds in conjunction with the Land Registry making the digital signature of deeds a simple and user-friendly process for the conveyancer and the consumer utilising biometric data to avoid fraud. This will lead to simpler registration formalities and more robust proof of identity procedures utilising a central register of client ID at the Land Registry”;
- “The Government should support and authorise the Land Registry digitisation programmes for greater digitisation of the registers and the creation of the Local Land Charge Register”;
- “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, thus avoiding fraud and money laundering”;
- “Ensuring clients have a mortgage decision-in-principle before making an offer on a property and that they have been property vetted financially. The creation of legally-binding offers – such as reservation agreements as in the new-build sector - would increase confidence and certainty that a transaction would complete, and financial penalties should be introduced for any party who then withdraws from the transaction.”
“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” says Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association.