A digital revolution in conveyancing could be on the way, starting at the Land Registry after changes to its rules were announced this week.
The organisation, which holds the title of ownership of all land, property and mortgaged property in England and Wales, is to introduce fully digital conveyancing documents with e-signatures. This will eliminate the need to use paper deeds and could potentially speed up the conveyancing process, where land and property is bought and sold.
The Land Registry is a statutory body and anyone buying or selling land and property, or taking out a mortgage, must have that transaction recorded by them. At the moment the Land Registry holds information relating to more than £4 trillion worth of property and land ownership in England and Wales, a figure that includes some £1 trillion worth of mortgages.
There was a public consultation on the proposed changes last year and now the organisation will introduce its digital registration from April 6, 2018. The digital package will speed up the registration process but place a strong focus on ensuring the registry stays safe from cyber-attackers and digital fraud.
Graham Farrant, the chief executive and Chief Land Registrar, said: “Our customers are central to everything we do, and we want to make dealing with us quicker and simpler by providing more services through digital technology.
“These changes are an important enabler for our digital transformation, and I want to thank our customers for their positive responses to the consultation.”
London’s planning rules are being ripped up to increase the number of affordable homes built in the capital. Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced the density limits will be removed to help meet ambitious targets for more housing in the city.
The rule changes aim to boost the number of homes built near borough centres and transport hubs, with more small sites being developed while the greenbelt remains untouched.
Mr Khan’s draft London Plan was launched on November 29. Abandoning the current planning rules in place for residential development, Mr Khan aims to encourage house builders t develop small sites across London’s 32 boroughs in the belief that up to 24,500 new, affordable homes can be created on those smaller projects. The London Plan aims to build 65,000 new homes in London every year.
Higher-density developments will be encouraged close to rail, Tube and bus links.
Mr Khan said: “With London’s population expected to increase by 70,000 every year, reaching 10.8 million in 2041, it’s vital we properly plan for growth with new affordable homes in every area of the capital.
“I am using all of the powers at my disposal in my first draft London Plan to tackle the housing crisis head on, removing ineffective constraints on home builders so we can make the most of precious land in the capital to build more homes in areas with the best transport links.
“My London Plan sets out how we are planning for the challenges our great city faces but crucially focuses on my vision of a London that welcomes growth, celebrates its diversity and ensures every Londoner gets the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”
Councils will consider planning applications for the smaller sites on a case-by-case basis, weighing up the value of the development to their area based on the existing infrastructure. That will allow an increase in the number of homes built, typically between one and 25 houses.
Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of business group, London First, said: “London’s success comes from the people who live and work here and we’ve been failing to build the homes they need for too long. By being smart about how and where we build, making better use of land and setting targets that councils can and must hit, the Mayor will help open a door for the countless people priced out of a place to call home.”
And Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders said: “Making better use of the many existing small sites that are scattered over the capital is essential if we are to build the number of new homes Londoners need.”
First-time buyers attempting to get on the housing ladder in London have been given a boost with the abolition of Stamp Duty on properties worth up to £300,000.
Those buying a home for the first time that’s worth up to £500,000 in London and other expensive areas across England won’t have to pay a penny of Stamp Duty on the first £300,000 of that transaction.
Chancellor Philip Hammond made the announcement on the Stamp Duty changes in the Budget today, telling the House of Commons that 80 percent of first-time buyers will now avoid paying the land tax.
He said: “I want to take action to help young people saving to own a home. With effect from today, for all first-time buyers up to £300,000, I am abolishing Stamp Duty altogether.
“To ensure that this relief also helps first time buyers in very high price areas like London, it will also be available on the first £300,000 of the purchase price of properties up to £500,000.”
Stamp Duty reform had been discussed at length before the Budget with property and financial experts united on viewing the tax as a barrier to social mobility and an increased burden on younger buyers.
Stamp Duty Land Tax is paid on all residential property worth £125,000 or more and on commercial properties sold at more than £150,000. It is levied on a sliding scale and raises around £11 billion a year for the Treasury.
There were other measures that focused on the housing market, too. Mr Hammond set a target of 300,000 new homes being built every year in England by the mid-2020s, more than double the average number currently being built. An extra £44 billion will also be spent over the next five years to improve construction skills, encourage small builders to return to the house-building market and free up land for building.
Urban areas, in particular cities and large towns, will be targeted to provide high-quality, high-density housing, while councils and London boroughs will be able to impose the full council tax on empty properties to encourage owners not to leave them vacant.
After what seemed like years of unrelenting growth, it appears that London house prices are finally falling. And while that’s potentially bad news for sellers, it offers a ray of hope to buyers desperate to get on to the property ladder in the capital.
A recent report in the Sunday Times suggested 40 percent of homes on sale in London have had their asking price cut and, based on the latest report from the Hometrack UK Cities House Price Index, the newspaper says the capital is performing the worst of all areas in the UK property market.
Hometrack’s September 2017 report says the annual rate of price inflation in London is 2.3 percent, and with inflation now running at 3 percent, that means a fall in real terms in 85 percent of London areas.
The worst areas for price growth are in inner London, including the City, Kensington and Chelsea, Tower Hamlets, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Richmond upon Thames. Price growth was best on the outskirts, led by Epping Forest, Gravesham, Runnymede and Waltham Forest.
Hometrack’s figures were confirmed by the latest data from Acadata and LSL Property Services, the research practice that analyses house price indices and trends across the UK.
According to its monthly report, the “traditional North-South divide has been upended” with price growth slowing in the south while the north is proving more resilient. Its figures suggest that prices in Greater London fell by 0.8 percent in August but individual boroughs showed fluctuations.
The Hometrack report said further price falls are “inevitable” because sellers will have to readjust their expectations in line with what buyers are willing to spend.
What that adds up to is greater power in the hands of the buyer who can expect to drive a hard bargain when they find the home they want. Meanwhile, sellers keen to make a fast sale are having to accept the new reality of fewer potential buyers and reduced offers.
If you are ready to make your move in the London property market, Capital Conveyancing is your first port of call. Our team of specialist conveyancers know the London scene inside out and offer fast and comprehensive conveyancing services to buyers, sellers and investors. Get an instant quote or request a callback and we’ll be in touch immediately.
A site in east London will be the first development in the capital to offer only affordable housing. The 330 new homes in Waltham Forest, Walthamstow, will be aimed at first-time buyers. The former Webbs industrial estate, which had lain derelict for seven years, was bought by the Greater London Authority last year and the tender to develop affordable homes was put out to tender.
Catalyst Housing Association won the right to be preferred bidders and they will now work with architects CF Moller and other housing associations to create the development. Along with a variety of homes, the site will also house creative workspaces, artist studios and retail units.
The homes will all be affordable and also eligible for shared ownership to widen as far as possible the net of potential owner-occupiers.
London mayor Sadiq Khan pushed through the purchase of the land, which lies in Waltham Forest borough, after a proposal to build a free school there fell through.
Mr Khan said: “I’m doing all I can to help fix London’s housing crisis, but it will take time to turn things round. We’ve already taken big steps forward – my new planning rules will help raise affordable housing levels in new developments, and my £3.15 billion funding deal with government will help to build an extra 90,000 genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy.
“I’m working hard to identify more brownfield sites across London that we can use to build the thousands of affordable homes London so desperately needs.”
The mayor has put aside an initial £250 million to buy and prepare land for new and affordable housing, outlined in his draft Housing Strategy for London. Any profit made from selling land to developers will be reinvested in buying more land across the capital.
The Housing Strategy aims to build 90,000 affordable homes by 2021 and encourage the building of more; get a better deal for private renters; support community builders and other new housing providers; and help tackle homelessness.
Homebuyers looking for a mortgage can expect digital changes to increase competitiveness in the lending market, according to new research. Technology is allowing lenders to offer more products tailored to specific customers, the Council for Mortgage Lenders’ Mortgage Tech UK conference was told.
The CML commissioned research from Accenture, which included interviews with both lenders and customers in the UK mortgage market, as well as the most up-to-date developments in the lending sectors around the world.
Their conclusions, entitled Digital Change and Mortgage Borrowers, were presented to delegates at the conference in London on June 27.
The research suggested that 84 percent of mortgage lenders think technology will improve both customer experiences and relationships; that 76 percent say it has the ability to improve their own operational capabilities; and 40 percent believe digital change will unlock the power of data.
More pertinently for mortgage borrowers, the researchers concluded that 68 percent of those they interviewed believe digital change will put customers in greater control of their lending.
The research identified the elements that are beginning to transform the mortgage market, including apps that allow customers to arrange and manage their mortgages. But it was also clear, the conference was told, that many clients still want to speak personally to an adviser about products that remain financially complex.
CML director general Paul Smee said: “This report highlights the enormous potential of technology in the mortgage market – a huge, process-driven industry with more than 11 million customers.
“It is already enhancing what lenders are able to offer their customers, as well as improving the efficiency of work behind the scenes.
“The pace of change will not slow, and firms will need to ensure that their plans for developing technology are underpinned by the clearest possible understanding of all the implications of digital change.”
While digital changes may revolutionise the mortgage market, the conveyancing element to buying or selling a property remains the same for now. You need a conveyancing solicitor or conveyancer to progress your transaction quickly and efficiently.
Capital Conveyancing can make that happen. Our sales team are standing by to give you an instant, no-obligation quote. Call now on 0207 406 5880 or start your quote journey here.
Both house buyers and sellers face further uncertainty in the UK property market as figures from the Nationwide building society show that house prices have fallen for the third month in a row.
The decline is the first time since the property market stalled at the height of the financial crash in 2009 that property prices have fallen in three consecutive months. Annual house price growth has also dropped to 2.1 percent from 2.6 percent a year ago, suggesting that property prices in the UK are perhaps beginning to slow naturally.
Robert Gardner, chief economist at the Nationwide, said: “House prices recorded their third consecutive monthly fall in May – the first time this has occurred since 2009. The annual rate of growth slowed to 2.1%, the weakest in almost four years.
“It is still early days, but this provides further evidence that the housing market is losing momentum. Moreover, this may be indicative of a wider slowdown in the household sector, though data continues to send mixed signals in this regard.
“While real incomes are again coming under pressure as inflation has overtaken wage growth, the number of people in work has continued to rise at a healthy pace. Indeed, the unemployment rate fell to a 42-year low in the three months to March.”
With the general election only days away, Mr Gardner dismissed any suggestion that the slowdown in house prices is related to political activity in the UK.
He added: “If history is any guide, the slowdown is unlikely to be linked to election-related uncertainty. Housing market trends have not traditionally been impacted around the time of general elections.
“Rightly or wrongly, for most home buyers, elections are not foremost in their minds while buying or selling their home.”
Nationwide produces a monthly house price index. Its May index revealed that the average price of a home is now £208,711, down 0.2 percent between April and May. There were also monthly declines of 0.4 percent in April and 0.3 percent in March, showing the trend is heading downwards.
Britain’s biggest building society, the Nationwide also revealed that the annual growth rate, at 2.1 percent, is the lowest since June 2013.
The monthly price index is adjusted for seasonal changes in house prices; for example, in spring and summer there are more buyers in the market, pushing prices up. The spring slowdown this year means property experts will ponder how much further the market may fall after the election on June 8 and the start of the Brexit negotiations to remove the UK from the European Union.
Kickstart your own home buying or selling by calling Capital Conveyancing now on 0207 406 5880 or click here for an instant, no-0bligation quote for conveyancing that works for you.
Delays in conveyancing are one of the biggest bugbears for this involved in a property transaction. Whether buyer or seller, one of the first questions you’ll ask of a solicitor or conveyancer is how long the process will take. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question.
A straightforward transaction, with no chain involved and no mortgage required, might be completed in a couple of weeks. The reality for most folks is that the conveyancing process is likely to be closer to eight weeks.
Several factors can cause delays in conveyancing and here at Capital Conveyancing, we take a look at some of the most common, along with some advice on how you, whether buyer or vendor, can do your best to avoid them.
One of the most frustrating parts of buying or selling property is being part of a chain, where each move is dependent on another party buying or selling. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to influence how quickly other people organise their conveyancing or surveys. However, you can keep on top of your own side of any move by speaking regularly to your solicitor or conveyancer and replying promptly to any queries or request for documentation.
Not every purchase requires a survey – for instance, a cash buyer might be prepared to proceed with a sale without a survey. However, mortgage providers will insist on a survey and so the sooner you get that underway, the better. The main reason for delay in getting a survey result is the lack of access to the property so do keep on top of the estate agent or vendor. Any defects revealed by a survey tend to become part of the price negotiation, but more complicated or structural problems could cause a delay in the conveyancing process or the whole transaction to grind to a halt.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but many buyers stick in an offer on a property they want without having the finance in place to buy it. Banks and lenders will often let you check online if your finances are secure enough to get a mortgage. That’s not the same as a formal application for a mortgage, and if you start the process of buying a property, at some point your solicitor (and the seller) is going to want to see proof that you have the funds. Get your mortgage application underway as early as possible so you don’t hold up the conveyancing process.
Searches are essential information about a property held by the local authority and organisations such as the Land Registry, which reveal accurate information on who actually owns a property and other facts such as planning permission for the surrounding area. These searches are ordered by the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancing firm. The solicitors and conveyancing firms on Capital Conveyancing’s London panel use the professional team at Searches UK to ensure quick returns on searches that avoid any delays.
The information that details who owns a property is contained in the title deeds, which are held by the Land Registry. The seller may not always be the registered owner, which can lead to complications – for example, when someone has died and their estate is being sold via probate. The onus is on the buyer’s legal team to ascertain that all the legal requirements for the sale are in place, but they depend on receiving the correct information from the vendor. Again, this is a situation that the buyer cannot influence but it may cause a delay in conveyancing. As with all elements of the conveyancing process, work out early on the best method of communicating with your solicitor or conveyancing and make regular contact with them. Capital Conveyancing‘s sales team are available seven days a week if there are any issues around communication with your legal representative.
The key point to remember about accelerating the conveyancing process and avoiding delays is to keep on top of all paperwork, respond quickly to all requests from your solicitor or conveyancer and keep fingers and toes crossed!
For a no-obligation quote, call Capital Conveyancing now on 0207 406 5880 or click here. Remember, our no-move, no-fee guarantee takes the headache out of conveyancing because you won’t be out of pocket if your transaction fails to complete.
Finding a conveyancing solicitor can be hard, especially when most of us don’t know the first thing about the conveyancing process. To help you get the best deal on your conveyancing package, we’ve listed the top five things you should look for in a good solicitor.