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Three quarters of UK buyers do not trust online checks – study

Some 74% of people do not trust property documentation to be carried out safely and securely online, research from anti-money laundering specialist SmartSearch reveals.

Despite Covid restrictions forcing many sectors to trade virtually, estate agents in the UK have been able to safely conduct in-person house viewings.

Hybrid or online estate agents have enjoyed a 10% surge in trade and a market growth of 2.7% in the last year. However, the study has highlighted a lack of trust when it comes to online checks.


The research also shows varying levels of consumer trust across banks when it comes to property documentation. High street banks, ranked in order of trust in their ability to handle property documentation safely, securely and entirely online are:

1.       Handelsbanken (50%)

2.       First Direct (44%)

3.       Nationwide (32%)

4.       Halifax (30%)

5.       HSBC (30%)

Interestingly, 50% of people who bank with Handelsbanken said they would trust their property documentation to be carried out online. Those banking with Atom bank were the least trustworthy with none of its customers having confidence in its ability to process those important documents virtually.

Interestingly, over half (59%) of people do not trust a mortgage application to be carried out safely and securely online either. More than two thirds (68%) of those aged 18-24 said they would not trust their mortgage application to be carried out online, compared to 45% of those aged 35-54 years old.

Despite an underlying lack of confidence in this process, 60% of those banking with First Direct and 50% of those banking with Nationwide said they would trust their mortgage applications to be carried out online.

John Dobson, chief executive officer at SmartSearch, comments: “Buying a property online is very convenient, especially during the current climate where people may be worried about conducting such transactions face to face.”

“However, it is a big shake up to the industry and consumers alike. The last year has forced many of us to adapt to digital or automated services, but it seems the property market has some work to do to instil confidence in their consumers.”

He adds: “While online estate agents are on the rise, they need to ensure they are taking the necessary steps to communicate trust to their customers, putting the right systems in place to make the process of buying and selling property online as safe and secure as possible.”

“We are certainly seeing steps being taken to achieve this, with the introduction of the new conveyancing taskforce set to tighten up procedures for customers and lawyers.”


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