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Why up-front ID verification could speed up transactions

The housing market has not been short of a White Paper over the last few months, and while you might just be getting your head around the Government’s Housing White Paper – it’s a broken market apparently – we at the Conveyancing Association are in the process of moving on from our own White Paper titled: ‘Modernising the Home Moving Process’.

We are just at the point where we will be publishing a document outlining eight work streams we plan to pursue as a result of feedback on our White Paper, and this covers off the key areas – as we see them – where action is required and change can be delivered in order to get to a far better home moving process for all.

Two areas which we believe will be of particular interest to estate agents, because they focus on the start of the ‘journey’, are that of getting an enhanced ID verification process and securing far better upfront information at the start of a transaction in the form of an E-Home Report.

ID verification first, and this has clearly been a bugbear for all stakeholders for any number of years, not least because each ‘player’ often feels the need to carry out their own verification process, not relying on those that have gone before, and we can end up with considerable delay. 

Our aim therefore is essentially to secure delivery of a product which takes responsibility for identifying the client at the start of the transaction, and can be relied upon by all others.

By having this reliable product – with the consumer using it to ‘ID themselves’ before they put their home on the market and utilising biometrics in order to do so – we believe we can significantly reduce the instances of verification whilst increasing the certainty. As conveyancers we spend a considerable amount of time chasing clients for ID and having such a product would be a real benefit. 

Our aim is to also centralise the ID verification and we are looking for the Land Registry to pick up on this so that the process can be centralised within its parameters. 

We will be lobbying Government for up-front centralised verification at the point of marketing, or in the case of buyers, at the point of viewing. To that end, we are working with a number of providers in order to move forward their ID verification product offerings and to help make this a reality. We believe the time-benefits for all involved in such a process will be considerable.

Secondly, upfront provision of information is often cited as a way to cut out delay in the home moving process and after plenty of research, we will be looking to develop E-Home Reports which would contain a comprehensive collection of information, again prior to marketing. 

This report would include a number of required forms and information, and we would suggest incorporate artificial intelligence to improve the customer experience by only exposing them to the relevant sections in the documents. These would be checked by a conveyancer to identify any missing information so as to reduce enquiries later in the process. By doing this we are paving the way for issues to be raised far earlier and for potential purchasers to be aware of these – a key point raised over the last few months when it comes to leasehold properties. 

Our end-game here is to have this E-Home Report instigated by the consumer via a secure portal (another of our eight work streams) along with the ID verification. As mentioned, by then having the conveyancer approve the contents of these documents, and confirm they are all attached, it not only meets some key Government aims around the unbundling of legal services, digitising of data and enabling so-called block-chain technology, but it reduces our own administrative work and allows firms to feed that information into their own Case Management Systems. 

A plus side is of course that these forms could include the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations checks which would save the seller duplication and the estate agent time and frustration in collating this information.

Essentially, we’re trying to speed-up the process here and to pre-empt issues which at the moment appear way down the line and can result in serious delay as they’rerevealed and sorted out. 

We believe that if potential problems are highlighted first-up then the process will be able to move much more smoothly; so by having the ID verified at the start and cutting down the need for duplication, and by providing documentation upfront, the process is effectively jump-started and we believe this will put all stakeholders in a far stronger position to complete a case in a much quicker timescale.

*Eddie Goldsmith is Chairman of the Conveyancing Association and Partner in Goldsmith Williams

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