In a busy world where we expect to be able to buy goods, book holidays and access services online, it’s only natural for people to ask, can conveyancing be done online?

The answer is yes, as digitisation of the conveyancing process becomes increasingly safe and accessible, more conveyancing solicitors have taken steps to embrace this and introduce online services for clients.

Advantages of online conveyancing provided by a solicitor

  • Saves you time – Most people find themselves dealing with house purchases and sales alongside all the other demands of daily life, whether that’s going to work, running a household or dealing with children. Let’s face it, there is hardly a minute to spare. So, if your conveyancer is set up to deliver an online service, this can spare you visits to their office and save you a lot of time.
  • Speeds up the conveyancing process – Nobody wants the conveyancing process to be longer than necessary, so if documents, updates and information can be shared through an app or secure portal, rather than put in the post, you will receive them without delay and be able to take action immediately.
  • Provides flexibility – It might be impossible to liaise with your conveyancing solicitor during working hours, but if you can complete paperwork online and message your solicitor electronically, it enables you to deal with your transaction at a time that best suits you.
  • Enables you to choose the best, rather than the nearest – If your conveyancing can be completed online without the need to visit your solicitor’s office, it means you are not restricted by geography. While it can be helpful for your solicitor to have knowledge of your local area, it’s not essential and the benefit of being able to choose the best conveyancer for you who has significant experience and expertise, is likely to outweigh any advantage gained through local knowledge.

Risks of online conveyancing

  • Beware of scams – Scam artists are very sophisticated and online safety is of paramount importance. Please do make sure you choose a conveyancer that is a member of the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. Their membership of these bodies means they follow a code of practice and that you are protected should anything go wrong. Also, check independent reviews, for example, Google reviews, to find out about the experiences of previous clients. Don’t be tempted to go with an online conveyancer that might not be genuine or legitimate.
  • Ensure your transaction will be dealt with by a named professional – Online services should exist for the convenience of clients, not as a barrier for the service provider to hide behind. The operating model for some entirely online firms can be to have large numbers of junior staff dealing with a high volume of transactions. This can result in poor service for clients who struggle to receive regular updates, have to chase for information, and are passed from one adviser to another, rather than having a single, conveyancing expert who they can talk to and stay in touch with. An online service shouldn’t come at the expense of a personal, proactive approach.

What elements of the conveyancing process can be handled online?

  • ID verification – This is an important requirement to combat fraud and ensure compliance with anti-money laundering regulations. Traditionally you would be asked to attend your solicitor’s office with two forms of ID, for example, your passport and a utility bill. However, new technology means that you can now upload your ID and a photograph of yourself via secure ID verification platforms.
  • Client onboarding – To onboard a client and open a file, a significant amount of information is required – names, addresses, phone numbers, value of the property being sold and bought, whether it’s freehold or leasehold, whether any funds are from Help to Buy schemes. The list goes on! This onboarding process can now be done via electronic forms that can securely collect and upload all the relevant information instantly.
  • Document signing – Again e-sign technology enables the signing of important documents without the requirement to attend in person. It’s quick, safe and secure.
  • Realtime updates – Good conveyancing firms now have a dedicated mobile app that enables you to receive realtime updates as important milestones are achieved and provides the facility for you to correspond with your solicitor at a time that suits you.

The use of technology has transformed conveyancing, supporting service delivery and enhancing the client experience. HM Land Registry, the Home Buying and Selling Group and government are working together to develop a strategy for the continued digitisation of property transactions.

These advances mean that people buying and selling property no longer need to make a choice between an online conveyancer or a traditional solicitor. They simply need to choose a conveyancing expert that can deliver the best of both worlds.

Need advice on any conveyancing matter?

For advice on buying or selling property, or any conveyancing matter, please email enquiry@beswicks.com or phone our Stoke-on-Trent solicitors on 01782 205000 or our Altrincham solicitors on 0161 929 8494.