Property in: LONDON

Almost 85% of homebuyers would like to have legal documents signed electronically

The UK property market recovery got stronger due to the Stamp Duty Holiday. However, old-fashioned ways of paperwork used by solicitors and real estate agents are holding sales.

It is not surprising that 81 per cent of UK homebuyers want to see broader electronic paperwork implementation to accelerate the sales processes when it comes to buying new homes or having property deals in general.

The abovementioned data is based on the recent research of DocuSign who commissioned a study in which 1k Britain's homebuyers, 150 real estate agents, and 150 solicitors were surveyed to find out the impact that homebuyers and estate professionals experienced due to the Stamp Duty Holiday end.

Further analysis of the research data indicates that 84 per cent of respondents would like to have legal paperwork signed electronically, 76 per cent desire to have entirely digital contracts, 60 per cent would like to be able to make their payments online, and more than half said that having electronic witnessing could be a decent option.

Regional Vice President at DocuSign Matt Gibbons said, «The evidence is overwhelming – UK house buyers are frustrated by the widespread reliance on slow, manual processes.

«Lockdowns and social distancing have encouraged many businesses to adopt dynamic digital tools but property buying remains dependent on traditional methods.»

It is worth noting that real estate agents implement electronic paperwork more successfully compared to solicitors. The vast majority (83 per cent) of agents offer some form of digital documentation service with 81 per cent using it for processes that are not associated with clients. In turn, solicitors keep a little behind the estate agents when it comes to the digital workflows – less than half of them accept electronically signed documents.

«Solicitors and estate agents should be taking full advantage of digital documentation solutions. The research shows 78% of UK homebuyers who have used digital documentation solutions said it made the buying process smoother,» added Gibbons.

DocuSign research also revealed some surprising misinformation within the real estate industry. More than a half of surveyed solicitors (57 per cent) stated «it’s accepted by HM Land Registry» as the reason for accepting manually signed documents only. Whereas in fact, electronically signed paperwork has been accepted by the government department since July last year.

«This research signifies the start of an exciting new digital chapter for the property industry,» noted Gibbons. «However, solicitors that choose not to adopt digital workflow tools risk losing business to those firms that do. Home buyers will increasingly expect it as part of the overall service. The research findings show their clients want a wider adoption of digital documentation services.»

The research of DocuSign highlighted this need in digital workflows adoption by revealing that 54 per cent of solicitors reported that up to half of the manually completed paperwork contained incorrect or inaccurate information. It goes without saying that the adoption of electronic documents could drastically improve this situation.

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