Esign

The Future of Electronically Signed Property Deals

The Future of Electronically Signed Property Deals

History in the making 

In today’s digital world, there is an increasing demand for convenient methods of entering into legally binding real estate transaction documents. Just this past week, history has been made in the UK with the completion of the first electronically signed real estate transfer which did not require a witness. 

How was this achieved? By using Qualified Electronic Signatures 

As you may already know, historically a transfer of real estate required a wet ink signature with a witness, which was partly modernised two years ago when the Land Registry began accepting electronic signatures by parties and their witnesses. Qualified Electronic Signatures, which are a type of electronic signature based on public key infrastructure encryption, takes the modernisation of signing one step further. The Qualified Electronic Signatures include a digital certificate, which can be issued only by an approved trust service provider after a face-to-face (remotely or in person) identify verification process. This is why the technology can enable real estate transfers without the requirement of a witness. Such self-verification of real estate deeds is monumental and potentially revolutionary for the industry if the pilot with the Land Registry is successful. 

What is the impact? Fast, secure, real estate transactions 

The historical requirement for a person to physically witness and attest the authenticity of a signature for a real estate transfer can slow a transaction down. The deal which made history was completed in just 24 hours, as opposed to the usual six to eight weeks. So the potential impact of Qualified Electronic Signatures on real estate transfers is faster transactions. A group of experts chaired by a High Court judge and a law commissioner has also concluded that such electronic signature technology can be at least as secure as physically witnessed ink signatures and, given the complete audit trail created by the system, there is also an argument to be made that Qualified Electronic Signatures are likely to be more reliable than a signature witnessed in an unsupervised environment. So the potential impact of the technology is more secure real estate transactions too. 

Conclusion 

Technology such as Qualified Electronic Signatures and the self-verification of deeds has the potential to transform real estate transactions if the pilot is regarded as successful and the technology is rolled out across the UK. Newmanor Law proudly celebrates these advances in the field and remains committed to utilising technology to our clients’ advantage. 

We are here to help 

We are specialists in real estate and real estate finance legal advice and we pride ourselves on taking ownership of transactions and getting deal done, quickly. Please speak to James Dakin on +44 (0)7733 264 800 or email james.dakin@newmanor.com or Karen Mason on +44 (0)7899 301 919 or email  karen.mason@newmanor.com to find out more.