Remote ID Verification is a method of confirming the identities of individuals such as clients or customers who are not physically present. Whereas antiquated methods of confirming identity required persons to be in the room as well as providing documents, the advancements of technology have meant authentication processes can now be carried out anywhere in the world.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at a faster, more accurate and more secure form of identity verification, and break down what each component is, and how they all add up to make the AML biometric verification process so much easier.

It starts with liveness detection…

What is liveness detection?

In remote identity verification the use of liveness detection is critical in preventing presentation attacks or “spoofs”. Essentially, it is to make sure the individual carrying out the test is a) real, and b) who they say they are.

Common spoofs include:

  • Masks
  • Photographs or digital prints
  • Digital screens
  • Video playbacks

There are two forms of liveness detection; Active and Passive.

  1. Active Liveness, where a user is instructed to perform an action, such as blink, move your head from side to side, or smile.
  2. Passive liveness works unnoticed in the background without requiring any additional steps from the user. It includes use of AI technology and deep neural networks to detect spoofs.

As passive liveness requires no response from the user, it is often the case that they occur without the user being aware a liveness check is taking place, let alone what security mechanism is being used. This reduces the risk of fraudulent access and identity theft.

What other examples are there in life of passive lifeless tests?

You may start noticing passive liveness tests in more and more in everyday activities, from airport security to mortgage applications.

  • Facial recognition systems: Banks, airports, border control, and other security-sensitive applications
  • Remote document verification: Online onboarding for financial services, healthcare, and other sectors
  • Mobile authentication: Secure access to mobile apps and accounts

Passive liveness is a rapidly evolving technology with the potential to significantly enhance security and convenience in various applications.

Methods:

  • Document verification: Uploading scans or photos of government-issued IDs and comparing them to official databases
  • Facial recognition: Using a webcam or smartphone camera to capture a live image of the person and comparing it to the photo on their ID
  • Knowledge-based authentication: Asking the person security questions based on information they are likely to know
  • Third-party data verification: Checking the person’s information against public or private databases, with their consent

Ready to put stronger AML practices in place for your conveyancing business?

Get in touch with our Service Introduction Team today to discuss your AML compliance needs!


It is that time of year again when conveyancers from across the UK come together to discuss important matters within the industry and trends for the future – National Conveyancing Week 2024.

The theme for the second day was mental health and well-being in the property sector, a topic that is often overlooked. In 2024, what are the residual impacts of COVID-19 on our sector’s mental health, what are the pressures faced by conveyancers, and what does working from home mean for our mental well-being?

Four years on from the COVID pandemic

While it may seem a long-distant memory for some, some within the industry believe that conveyancers are still reeling from the impacts of COVID-19 on UK property transactions. Robin Wells, Head of Sales Operations:

“I still firmly believe, as much as people will deny it, we’re still in a post-COVID slump in terms of struggling to cope with what happened and struggling to cope with what is normal.

The loss of human contact felt during the pandemic and since the shift to working from home has undoubtedly left many feeling isolated and lonely and grappling with the question of what normal now means. Robin goes on to say:

“What is normal now? What’s a normal working environment? What’s work-life balance? What should that be? These are all buzzwords and things that are being said, but actually, what is it? What’s healthy? What’s not healthy? I think people trying to come to terms with that and find out what it is and how they get the best out of themselves and the best quality of life while working in this environment is tough”.

It may be that, in many ways, we are all still somewhat shocked by what happened in 2019 and 2020. Not everyone has had the chance to go back, debrief, and have a collective conversation about what happened, how we felt, how we now feel, and what it now means for our livelihoods. National Conveyancing Week provides an excellent forum for this to happen.

The relentlessness of the industry on mental health and well-being

For conveyancers in the UK, the relentlessness and demands placed on them can have a negative bearing on their mental health and well-being. The seemingly endless cycle of meetings on Teams and Zoom can also make us feel disconnected. This is a sentiment that Robin Wells, Head of Sales Operations at OneSearch, resonates with:

“It is nice to go out with a customer out of the office and just say, how are you? It’s as simple as that. How are you? You’re not selling anything. That comes later. But you’ll just say, how are you? How have you been? How are you feeling? I mean, because of COVID, people don’t talk like that anymore. It’s straight onto teams, straight onto an agenda”.

So what is the solution? For Elizabeth Jarvis, Managing Director, the key is setting boundaries and being present with loved ones:

“It is easier said than done and as somebody who used to be the world’s worst for being on email late at night, it is putting firm boundaries in place for yourself. Not just for you but for being present for your loved ones, for people around you and your family. Because I think we all recognise that when your home life is going well then that has a really good positive impact on your professional and your working life too. So you don’t just owe it to us, we owe it to the people who are closest to us as well”.

Emotional rollercoaster

Conveyancers often find themselves responding to the demands of a market that is either overheated or in a lull. The impact of this on mental health is overlooked, but the reality is we are sometimes swinging from too busy to not busy enough, resulting in concerns over job security, a genuine ‘emotional rollercoaster’. As Elizabeth Jarvis explains:

“You see, when you look at it, you think when it’s boom, it’s stressful because we’re running about like mad trying to get all these transactions through when we think about 2022, everybody was just running to stand still. People were working huge hours, you know, just trying to get all these transactions through and make the most of a really buoyant market…And then the market flattens and goes towards a natural connection again and it takes time for it to come back. And then that’s when everybody realises that they need to be really competitive. And how do they do that? And, you know, how do they retain the talent through the difficult periods?”.

Final words

We should make the most of any opportunity to discuss the mental health of conveyancers. We have all been through such an immense period of turmoil in the form of COVID-19, and market conditions remain uncertain with the background of war in Ukraine and stubbornly high mortgage interest rates. The more that we can all get together, laugh, reflect, and be optimistic about the future, the better for our collective mental health. For Elizabeth Jarvis, “It is about getting in to see a customer, getting to see your colleagues again, having that laughter brought back in again into daily life”. After all, the British are experts at this; a packet of your favourite biscuits, a cup of tea, and a chat, is sometimes all it takes to feel ‘normal’ again.

The first theme of National Conveyancing Week 2024 focuses on the exciting and untapped opportunity of material and up-front information to reduce transaction delays and drive efficiency in conveyancing.

There is no doubt that change is needed. Depending on who you speak to, transactions are currently taking place in the region of 20-22 weeks on average, and this is only increasing. In this article, we will ask whether the current transaction times are a matter of embarrassment and what is holding us back from leveraging material and upfront information in conveyancing.

A matter of embarrassment?

Those within the UK’s property sector are acutely aware of the protracted transaction times in 2024. The truth is that conveyancers are working harder than ever to achieve completion as early as possible. One recent opinion from within the industry has ruffled a few feathers. Ruth Beeton, co-founder of Home Sale Pack, is quoted as having stated:

“The UK boasts one of the strongest and most desirable property markets on the global stage, but despite our obsession with bricks and mortar, our protracted property transaction timeline is quite frankly embarrassing”.

This is an understandable point of view, but should we really be embarrassed?

Robin Wells, Head of Sales Operations for OneSearch, takes the view that transaction times are frustrating rather than embarrassing:

“Yes, it is frustrating. In 2011, 12 weeks was kind of the expected time for a standard residential conveyance to go through from notification to completion. I think we’re now looking at 20, 22 weeks”.

Elizabeth Jarvis, Managing Director of OneSearch, believes that there are some valid reasons for the length of completion times which are often overlooked:

“I think that it’s the fact that it’s [transaction times] increasing, which is uncomfortable to be in an industry where despite everybody’s best efforts, we can’t seem to get it together to get that back down to where it was a number of years ago. I know that there are some very valid reasons for it that there’s a lot more diligence, and things have crept into the process”.

This raises an important point; the increase in property transaction times, in part, is due to the greater lengths that conveyancers now go to protecting homebuyers and sellers and, ultimately, the reputation of the sector as a whole (i.e. due diligence checks, AML and KYC).
 

What will enable the proper adoption of upfront information?

One of the frustrations with the state of transaction times is that the promise of technology has not yet led to a wholesale improvement in the experience of property buyers and sellers. Elizabeth Jarvis believes that where upfront information has not taken hold in the past, there are now strong indications that technology will be a key enabler:

“I think now, from what I can see, is chinks of light where there is some better communication, and I think there’s a lot more general interest from the conveyancing sector in technology and re-looking at that technology which obviously is going to work a lot better now than when it was first conceived. I think, broadly speaking, we would all agree that the whole concept of having data upfront is a good one. There were reasons why it didn’t quite work the way it was hoped. But I think that it’s seen a return to that is happening”.

Elizabeth also takes the view that the key to making upfront information work and to bringing down transaction times is the use of technology to connect all stakeholders in the process:

“It’s no good to have upfront data if everybody in the process isn’t making use of it and they’re not speaking to each other. It’s the interconnectedness, the connectivity of people in the process working together with it”.

Final words

The fact that upfront data is first on the agenda for the National Conveyancing Week 2024 is extremely positive news for the UK’s conveyancing sector. What is now needed is for all senior stakeholders to come together to create a unified strategy for improved conveyancing efficiency using the latest technology as a foundation to enable the full use of material and upfront information. As Elizabeth Jarvis says, the good news is that there are strong signals that this is already happening.

As the housing market and economic outlook continues to fluctuate the cash buyer market sector recently hit an eight-year high.

More and more non-mortgage clients are entering the market looking to secure their next short or long-term investment, and each one has the sought-after incentive of being chain-free, and good to go. 

This this blog, we take a deep dive into the current Cash Buyer Landscape, by pitching questions to OneSearch’s head of Sales, Robin Wells…

  1. With current economic trends around higher interest rates and low availability of mortgages, have cash purchases increased? 

It goes without saying the property sector has taken, and is still taking an unprecedented number of hits, with the initial challenges stemming from the wake of the pandemic. But our resilient market has been further tested by the war in Ukraine and the subsequent cost of living crisis together consistent interest rate increases over the last 12 months.  

I think it’s important to understand that cash purchasers and purchases have always been prevalent in our marketplace, but naturally these transactions will inevitably increase when the sale of property (especially) distressed sales become more frequent and mortgaged buyers less plentiful. 

  1. Without the need for a lender, and therefore searches not strictly being required, should cash buyers look to protect themselves? 

It’s critically important to understand that searches play a vital role in a property transaction and whatever the circumstances a full range of searches as advised by a conveyancer is always the best way to get all the property information required to make an informed decision. However, some cash purchases are negotiated by buyer and seller and the timescales of search delivery can fall out of these agreed parameters, so some form alternative safeguard maybe required to enable the purchase to proceed. 

  1. How can conveyancers help prospective cash buyers reduce the risks involved with a cash purchase? 

As stated before, a full suite of searches is the first and foremost the best way of providing clients the property intelligence required to transact safely. However, when a lender is not present within the transaction, a suitable insurance policy can be obtained to protect the buyer from any loss of property value or claims that may arise from not taking usual route of ordering a full search pack and the missing data within the searches not being present. 

  1. Is there a more robust way to increase the cash buyers due diligence as opposed to just insurance? 

Yes, our Cash Buyer Express is a combined solution that provides some really useful property search data, such as Planning information and planning permissions, nearby road schemes, road and railway schemes, and this is nicely wrapped up with a really robust insurance policy that adds a greater layer of cover for the buyer.  

With all these barriers bypassed, wouldn’t it be good to have an added layer of protection and security without jeopardising a speedy transaction? Our infographic highlights the routes available to your clients, and how OneSearch’s Cash Buyer Express gives your clients the best of both worlds.  

We have been made aware that the estimated turnaround time for regulated Local Searches in the Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council area is currently 40 working days.

This is due to a technical problem the council have with an internal system, which is causing significant delays. The estimated turnaround time for official Local Searches in this area is currently 85 working days.

If you do have an urgency with any particular case, or if unexpected delays have put the transaction at risk of collapse, we can support you with OneSearch Express, our indemnity policy which provides a data-rich alternative to standard No-Search Insurance, as it also includes a comprehensive report pertinent to a client’s property. Typically returned in just 24-48 hours, Express provides the majority of data (over 70%) that you would typically obtain from Local Authorities, meaning you and your client can complete quickly, and with more confidence.

Our clients have been using Express since 2015 for instances where search delays have put transactions at risk of collapse, and our claims record is exemplary: there are no claims resulting from our Express searches. This is due to the accuracy of our data, and triple quality check methodology. No other company exists with our dataset, comprised of real-time and historical CON29 data.

If you would like more information about OneSearch Express, please email intro@onesearchdirect.co.ukor call 01782 433270.

Our parent company Landmark have released their Residential Conveyancing and Home Movers’ experiences in 2022 guide, revealing the experiences from both sides of the conveyancing landscape.


Within the guide, you can discover:  

  • The four biggest causes of delays for residential conveyancers  
  • Which changes would improve the buying experience most  
  • Levels of buyer-concern around problems arising post-purchase  
  • The extent to which recruitment is still a challenge in the industry 

This guide is part of a series of market research analysis, conducted in late 2022, in which over 140 senior residential conveyancers and commercial real estate lawyers, along with colleagues and 501 home movers were surveyed. Over the coming weeks future reports on Digital Transformation and Climate Change will also be available.

Download the guide, explore the commonalities that may help professionals in the land and property industry to make more robust decisions in line with home movers’ needs.