Manual house-buying processes taking 360,000 productivity hours from UK economy - Business Leader News

Manual house-buying processes taking 360,000 productivity hours from UK economy

The majority of people buying a house in the last three years had to take time away from work to complete admin tasks related to the purchase manually and in person, such as validating their identification at the post office or signing contracts in front of a solicitor.

The research, carried out by Censuswide for OneID® and DocuSign, found that the average house buyer lost between four and six hours of time out of their working day, and more than one in ten (11%) wasted over a day’s worth of working time, as a result of having to complete tasks in person.

Each house buyer lost on average 4.7 hours (282 minutes) of working time, through needing to sign documents and/or verify their ID in person.

Based on the latest data from the ONS, which shows that 77,390 residential property transactions were completed in January 2023 alone, over 360,000 hours could have been lost to manual processes in conveyancing in just one month.

The findings show that, of more than 1,000 UK adults who bought a house in the last three years:

  • 64% had to sign physical documents
  • 57% had to physically hand over documents to solicitors or visit a notary
  • 57% had to validate their ID and address in person
  • 49% had to have a witness countersign contracts in person

This is despite the fact that HM Land Registry introduced a new standard for digital ID verification two years ago, and a new standard for electronic signatures one year ago, giving guidance to the market to encourage the use of digital tools in both areas of house buying.

Mike Harlow, Deputy Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Land Registrar, HM Land Registry comments: “There is widespread demand across the conveyancing market for more secure and convenient identity verification solutions.

“In response to this, and to the practical challenges posed during the Covid-19 pandemic, HMLR published its Digital Identity Standard in March 2021. This was developed collaboratively with HMLR customers and industry.

“We are delighted that a number of ID providers in the market have developed or are developing identity checks which would meet the requirements of the HMLR Digital Identity Standard. We’re aware of investment being made in tech companies over the past 12 months to support the development of easy-to-use digital identity tools. This is now influencing conveyancing firms who are making identity procurement decisions.”

The research also showed that there is strong appetite for the UK Government to introduce digital IDs that enable users to incorporate their driving licence, passport, tax records and qualifications into one place, with 61% agreeing with recent recommendations by Sir Tony Blair and Lord Hague to bring in such a solution.

Adrian Field, Director of Market Development, OneID, comments: “OneID, as a certified identity provider under the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology’s trust framework, has developed a best-of-breed identity solution that is the fastest, safest and cheapest on the market. We have joined up with leading partners in e-signing and banking, and are working with mortgage platform providers to enable a 100% digital process that will speed up the home buying journey and save customers thousands of hours.”