Digital signatures could speed up mortgage process

HM Land Registry have claimed that the days of mortgage deeds being confined to paper may be drawing to a close.

A fundamental part of their digital innovation, the registry have developed a new digital mortgage service which enables borrowers to sign their property deed online.

As well as working towards complete digitisation, the changes form part of the registry’s wider aim to become “the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data,” which they outline in their blog.

Seen as a more secure option, signing deeds digitally mean that there is no longer a risk of documents being lost in the post. The registry also claims that digital signatures are likely to reduce application processing time, given that users can go back to their online account and sign whenever is convenient for them.

HM Land Registry has worked collaboratively with the Government Digital Service (GDS) in order to ensure that the right person is signing the deed. Enabling them to use Gov.uk Verify, GDS have helped the registry develop this vital part of the process, ensuring that the buyer’s identity is verified.

Commending the level of support and guidance they have received from GDS, the registry stated that the in-house team have developed and enhanced their own understanding, making sure that all aspects of the process are working effectively.

Summarising how the process will work, the registry stated:

  • Once the identity of the buyer has been confirmed though obtaining a Verify account, a code will be sent by HMLR using text message. This code can then be entered by the user to confirm that they will be signing the deed.
  • Rather than the digital equivalent of a handwritten signature, it will be a secure way of confirming the identity of the person signing the deed as well as its content. The signature acts as a barrier to the amendment of the deed; its content cannot be changed without the signature being invalidated.
  • The registry has confirmed that the introduction of the online signatures will mean the eradication of paper deeds. Whilst they understand that the Verify system may not work for everyone, they remind potential users that going through the traditional process is likely to take more time.

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