The first digital mortgage has been signed for a house in Rotherhithe, south-east London and entered into the Land Register — an indication that the home-buying process could at last be simplified using modern technology.
In a significant first step, borrowers will be able to log in to an online account to sign their mortgage deed online, at a time and place that suits them.
As any home owner knows, there is a huge amount of paperwork involved in the house buying process, which often needs to be filled in by hand and signed in front of a witness before being sent by post.
Even remortgaging your home, a much simpler process, can feel unnecessarily archaic as owners are required to fill out multiple forms by hand (often repeating information already supplied) and hunt for documents such as leases.
The new digital mortgage service allows borrowers to securely confirm their identity via GOV.UK Verify, which is already used for government services including online tax returns and benefits applications.
They can then log in and sign their mortgage deed — a legally binding document that transfers ownership of the property to the mortgage lender as security for the loan — without putting pen to paper.
Borrowers will also no longer require a witness to their signature and there’ll be no risk of documents getting lost in the post.
The Land Registry said the move is part of wider efforts to simplify the home buying process.
The service is currently being tested out for home owners remortgaging, in a collaboration between HM Land Registry, Coventry Building Society, Enact Conveyancing and GOV.UK Verify.
But, once rolled out, the new ‘Sign your mortgage deed’ service will mean borrowers will be able to digitally sign their deed online and won’t have to get their signatures witnessed.
We are looking forward to rolling this out nationally and will be working with more conveyancers and lenders to do so,” says HM Land Registry chief executive and chief land registrar, Graham Farrant.
At the moment this service is only available with re-mortgages but it has the potential to be extended to purchases in the future.