Digital mortgages are making the home buying process faster

It has officially become easier for millions of people in England and Wales to remortgage one year after the introduction of the first digital mortgage in the countries.

As well as making it easier to remortgage, the Land Registry has announced that it is also looking to the future through its Digital Street research project and has successfully used a blockchain prototype to show how buying a home can be made simpler and quicker.

‘People are doing an ever-increasing amount online, from shopping to banking, e-learning to gaming. Now they can remortgage their home online as it’s quicker, more convenient, and fits their busy lives,’ said Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

‘The Land Registry’s digital transformation is continuing to make it easier for homebuyers by embracing new technologies like blockchain, enabling them to become the world’s leading land registry,’ he added.

Indeed, the Land Registry’s digital service called Sign Your Mortgage Deed, is now being offered by major High Street lenders.

The digital service enables people to sign their mortgage whenever and wherever they are, including on their phone or computer. It removes the need for pen on paper signatures, and witnesses no longer need to be present when the documents are signed.

Also, home owners no longer face delays from having to print out forms, find an independent third party to witness their signature, and pay to return the forms by post.

Nationwide, HSBC, RBS and NatWest and Atom Bank were among the first mortgage lenders to sign up, allowing their customers to use the new service. More people are applying for their mortgages using paperless processes and HM Land Registry’s free service brings the sector one step closer to an end to end paperless process.

One couple, Mr and Mrs Perchard, who used the service to remortgage their house in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, said; ‘We have been extremely pleased with how the whole application, including the online mortgage deed worked. The speed from initial contact to completion of the new mortgage was astonishing’.

The Digital Street research and development project is looking at ways of improving the home buying process in the future. The Land Registry has rigorously tested the technology and has successfully used their blockchain prototype to show how buying and selling a home can be made simpler, quicker by demonstrating a digital transfer of ownership.

The sale of a semi-detached house in Gillingham, Kent, was used to show how the emerging technology could be used to reduce uncertainty and delays when buying a home. Delays can cause unnecessary stress for the buyer and seller and sometimes even cause sales to fall through.

‘It was really straightforward. It shows how technology like this can help make everything so much quicker and you can see clearly what’s happening at every stage. If this is the way forward, it’s going to make everything easier,’ said Stefan, the seller of the house in Gillingham who took part in the trial.

The blockchain technology has been developed through conversations with stakeholders across the property market, and tested with the close cooperation of Mishcon de Reya, Premier Property Lawyers, Shieldpay and Yoti.