The government knows it needs to speed up the house buying process

Michael Lloyd

July 10, 2019


The ministry of housing, communities and local government (MHCLG) said the government recognises it needs to do more to speed up the house buying process by using technology.

Matt Prior, housing directorate of the MHCLG, said the government has been working with proptech companies and is committed to speeding up the housebuying process.

Prior said: “I’m confident the way we buy and sell a house will change.

“Unfortunately there’s no silver bullet, ministers can’t improve processes overnight.

“It’s working with industry players in the space to improve it together.

“We have to improve the current process and put the conditions down to make a better process.”

He said that we need to integrate e-conveyancing, as at the moment estate agents and conveyancers want to verify identification, meaning ID has to be verified multiple times during the process.

Prior added: “We need to take this paper-based process and make it more electronic. There are issues around ID verification.

“We need a single process that runs all the way through. A lot is about behaviour change in the industry. Conveyancers need to ensure they and others have done ID verification.

“The issue around digital signatures is interesting. What constitutes a digital signature and… can we convince all parties involved in the transaction to rely on it?

“The market is ripe for innovation. We still seem to be on the cusp of it.

“We’re far away from the property buying process taking four to six weeks. We need much better info about the property. I am pretty confident we can speed the process up so we can move the average closer to 12 weeks.

“If you talk to estate agents regularly, they’ll tell you it just takes longer and longer and say 20 years ago it was a much faster process, so we need to look at ways in which we can speed it up.”

Stephen Ward, director of strategy and external relations at the Council of Licensed Conveyancers, said people wouldn’t want a future where they can buy homes with one click move on Rightmove via the use of bots and artificial intelligence.

He said: “I’m enthusiastic about automation, but wonder whether people will want transactions to happen as quickly as they probably could.

“Time could be got down to one or two days with the right information available, but would consumers want that or would they want time to reflect and take advice?”

“We’re humans and want advice. We’ll be regulating the black box that does the work.

“It’d certainly be the individuals and entities that deliver the service. To deliver a success of it we need to be able to work with lenders and builders.”

Orla Shields, chief executive officer and co-founder at GetRentr, said tech will be used to get quicker Decisions in Principles, digitalising a homebuyers report and finding efficient ways to do valuations without the need for chartered surveyors visiting every property.

Julie Patient, counsel, Hogan Lovells, said that the latest generation of first-time buyers coming to the market consume information in a different way and expect it on their mobiles.

She added: “Doing everything online is what they expect to do and the rules need to facilitate that.

“I think that’s another area the FCA should be looking at, increasing the number of online tools in an effective way.”

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