A stakeholder body helping the government to improve the conveyancing process has taken the thinking behind home information packs (HIPs), scrapped in 2010, to design a digital questionnaire to be tested on 500 transactions.
The Home Buying and Selling Group has created what it calls a 'Buying and Selling Property Information' (BASPI) as 'one source of truth' about a property.
The Conveyancing Association's director of delivery Beth Rudolf, a group member, told the Council for Licensed Conveyancers' annual conference yesterday that a questionnaire would be completed by the seller at the point the property is put on the market.
Rudolf said: 'We can now have augmented intelligence so [the seller] does not have to see the questions that do not apply to her. We can look to how we can import the existing data, such as what the remaining term of the lease is.' Data from property log books could also be imported.
Further details about the form can be found in the CLC's Conveyancing 2030 discussion paper, published yesterday. The form will be accessible to the buyer prior to the offer and lenders, and sent to all parties with the memorandum of sale. This will include the valuer, reducing or eliminating the need for post-valuation enquiries.
In the discussion paper, Rudolf suggests lenders should have access to the property information to identify whether the property is suitable for their lending policies.
She says in the report: 'Because we would like to see it available in digital format, it could be signed digitally and supported by biometric identity verification for the seller to establish that they own that identity and that it is the identity of the registered proprietor. How far would this go in terms of eradicating seller impersonation fraud and reducing claims, which in turn would reduce conveyancers' insurance premiums that have currently reached an eye-watering high this year thanks to several big claims?'
Lawtech firms are looking at digitising BASPI and how it can be integrated into their systems.
Rudolf told the conference: 'We're going to pilot it. We're hoping to have 500 transactions go through the pilot using large chains of estate agents - half with the BASPI and half without. We're looking for pilot participants... We hope it will create a cheaper, quicker, less stressful home moving process for all. And when I say "cheaper", you're not going to have to drop your fees. It's getting rid of waste from the process.'
Law Society president Simon Davis said Chancery Lane is 'deeply committed' to improving the conveyancing process.
He said: 'While the proposed Buying and Selling Property Information (BASPI) has potential, we must first ensure it is an effective tool. The TA6 form will remain active. A new version, launching next week, will include important updates on Japanese knotweed and flood risk.'