The government’s stamp duty holiday has revitalised the UK housing market but outdated practices amongst solicitors and estate agents are delaying sales. As a result, 81% of homebuyers across the country want a wider adoption of digital documentation tools to speed up the process.
That’s according to new research by DocuSign, who commissioned a survey of 1,000 UK homebuyers, 150 estate agents and 150 solicitors to explore how the end of the stamp duty holiday was impacting UK homebuyers and property professionals.
Additional insights show that more than eight out of ten (84%) want to sign legal documents electronically, 76% want entirely electronic contracts, 60% want online payments and 51% said there should be an option to have electronic witnessing.
“The evidence is overwhelming – UK house buyers are frustrated by the widespread reliance on slow, manual processes,” said Matt Gibbons, Regional Vice President, EMEA Commercial Sales at DocuSign. “Lockdowns and social distancing have encouraged many businesses to adopt dynamic digital tools but property buying remains dependent on traditional methods.
Estate agents are currently ahead of solicitors when it comes to adopting digital workflows – 83% offer some form of electronic documentation service, and 81% use it for non-client facing processes as well. However, solicitors lag some way behind with 51% only accepting documents that have been signed manually with pen and paper.
Gibbons added “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.”
“The research also revealed some surprising misinformation within the industry. Of those surveyed, 57% of solicitors said the reason they only accept manually signed documents is because ‘it’s accepted by HM Land Registry’. Whereas in fact, the government department began accepting electronically signed deeds in July 2020.
“This research signifies the start of an exciting new digital chapter for the property industry,” said 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.”
“Underlining this need for change, the DocuSign research also revealed that 54% of solicitors reported that between 26 to 50% of manually completed documents contain incomplete or incorrect information. The use of digital alternatives could dramatically reduce this figure.