Land Registry registers first 'digital mortgage'
The Land Registry has registered its first "digital mortgage deed" signed online.
It said a "sign your mortgage deed" service will mean borrowers no longer need to apply pen to paper while witnesses watch, saving time and cutting out the risk of documents getting lost in the post.
They will be able to log in and sign their deed at a time when it suits them.
The new digital mortgage service is currently still being tested out and could become more widely available in the coming months.
The first phase of this service has been aimed at home owners going through the remortgaging process.
Once a borrower's identity has been confirmed, they get a code to input which shows they are the person signing the deed.
The digital signature is not an electronic copy of a handwritten signature, but a secure way of confirming the content of a deed and the identity of the person signing it.
The Land Registry said the registration of the deed for a house in Rotherhithe, London, follows months of collaboration and testing with Coventry Building Society and Enact Conveyancing and used gov.uk verify - the government identity assurance service - to enable borrowers to verify their identity before digitally signing their mortgage deed online.
The Land Registry said the move is part of wider efforts to simplify the home buying process.
Land Registry chief executive and chief land registrar Graham Farrant said: "By working with partners in the industry, we have secured a simpler and faster service for the benefit of home owners.
"We are looking forward to rolling this out nationally and will be working with more conveyancers and lenders to do so."
Peter Frost, chief operating officer at Coventry Building Society, said: "Although this initiative has started with re-mortgages we're excited about the potential for it to be extended to purchases in the future."
Ben Carroll, Enact Conveyancing's managing director, said: "We are extremely pleased to join HM Land Registry and Coventry Building Society on this pioneering effort to transform the conveyancing process.
"This fully digitised journey will mean that a customer can sign their mortgage deed online at a time and place of their choosing, securely underpinned by the gov.uk verify platform."
The Land Registry safeguards land and property ownership worth over £4 trillion, including around £1 trillion of mortgages.
The Land Register contains more than 25 million titles showing evidence of ownership for more than 85% of the land mass of England and Wales.