What could 21st-century conveyancing look like?

Prior to the worldwide chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the conveyancing sector was undergoing some changes in order to meet the challenges of buying and selling homes in the 21st century. Lockdown and other issues emanating from the coronavirus outbreak have led to these changes becoming fast-tracked in keeping with the changes that have happened in many sectors since March.

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It seems somewhat perverse that seminars and webinars are still needing to be held 20 years into a new century with the key objective to define the shape of 21st-century conveyancing, but it seems these changes are now coming more into focus.

Steps towards a new normal

In some areas, progress had been made in the processes made by conveyancing solicitors, including the use of digital ID, property log books, electronic signatures and upfront information. Cementing the best practice of selling homes in a world which is increasingly digitally connected is still some way off, however.

The Land Registry has said that COVID-19 injected an element of pace into these changes, particularly surrounding the use of digital signatures and online ID checking. As conditions slowly begin to return to normal, these introductions could well stick around, cutting days awaiting documents with original signatures and original ID to be sent through the post from the process.

The conditions imposed by the government between March and May of 2020 are likely to provide the catalyst for conveyancing solicitors to seek further changes in order to streamline, update and lockdown-proof the sector.

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New areas to implement

A big change to conveyancing could be the introduction of the Buying and Selling Property Information form (or BASPI for short), which is a common information form that is intended to be delivered digitally. This would collate all required information from a range of sources, in addition to cementing the status of the Property Log Book.

The Property Log Book will enable a homeowner to hold access to all of their property data, adding to it where necessary. If it is linked up with local council services, it could considerably reduce the time spent waiting for searches.

One of the biggest current problems with buying and selling a home is the sheer amount of time spent waiting for various parties to communicate with one another. The introduction of digital resources could expedite the process.