digital mortgage deed

As part of our Digital Mortgage project, we’ve been trialling an early version of the Digital Mortgage signing service with customers.

My role within the team has been to work closely with conveyancers and lenders who want to be early adopters of the new service; feedback their priorities and provide technical support. This is so that development continues quickly and we can make sure everything is in place to support the trial and the borrowers who will initially use it.

The aim of the service is to allow conveyancers to create a digital mortgage deed, which can then be signed by the borrower(s) using a digital signature and submitted to us so we can update the register.

What is the purpose of the early trial?

We wanted to test the solution we have built with people who are actually borrowing money secured against their house. This has allowed us to get direct feedback on the service and understand how we can make it easier for borrowers to use.

All of this is happening alongside the paper mortgage system and the ‘real’ mortgage will still be physically signed and submitted for registration through our existing channels.

We have been working with volume conveyancer enact, Coventry Building Society and a small number of borrowers who are taking out a mortgage with Coventry Building Society. The borrowers have been invited to view a digital version of their deed, compare it to their paper one and run through a mock-up of the digital signing process. Our User Researcher has then contacted the borrowers to find out their thoughts on the new process.

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Borrowers have said that it was easy to use and they were also pleased that there would no longer be a need to find someone to witness their signature.

One particularly useful thing that the trial helped us to understand was which areas of the website we needed to make more prominent to improve the experience, and make it easier to use for borrowers.

enact have been happy to work with Land Registry to develop the new service and run it alongside their existing paper mortgage system. They can see the potential that digital mortgages will bring to their organisation. enact’s Managing Director, Ben Carroll commented:

“Using the Land Registry’s Digital Mortgage service will allow enact to remove the only non-digital step in our remortgage process. It will offer a more streamlined and responsive service to our customers whilst reducing risk through GOV.UK Verify. We applaud Land Registry’s efforts to modernise the conveyancing process.”

For us, it was also the first chance to prove the technologies we are using in the service as Ian Howe wrote in his recent blog.

In the coming months, we will add further steps as we move closer to the full end-to-end process. This will allow:

  • the conveyancer to create a legal mortgage online
  • the borrower(s) to sign online
  • the conveyancer to make effective and submit electronically for registration

We will also be introducing further functionality such as:

  • Simultaneous registration to offer earlier protection of simple charges
  • Adding notifications to the conveyancer to reduce requisitions eg warn them when the names on the mortgage don’t match the register
  • Adding improved identity verification of the borrower using the GOV.UK Verify service

It’s an exciting time for the team as we take our service to the next stage. We plan to run a public beta later this year and invite other remortgage conveyancers and software providers to work with us to develop and further improve the service.

If you would like to find out more please email the Digital Mortgage team.

James Rippin
By James Rippin,
Product Manager at HM Land Registry