Mishcon de Reya trials blockchain in property transactions

As part of HM Land Registry’s Digital Street research and development project, Mishcon de Reya has worked with the organisation and other partners including Premier Property Lawyers to successfully complete the UK’s first digitised end-to-end residential property transaction.

HMLR’s successful Digital Street research and development project is looking at ways of improving the home buying process in the future. After months of testing, the blockchain prototype was used to show how buying and selling a house can be made simpler and quicker by demonstrating a digital transfer of ownership.

The blockchain technology was developed through conversations with other stakeholders across the property market, with Barclays, SheildPay, and Yoti also involved in the testing.

The sale of a semi-detached house in Gillingham, Kent, showed how the emerging technology could be used to reduce uncertainty and delays when buying a home. Delays can cause unnecessary stress for the buyer and seller, and sometimes even cause sales to fall through.

Stefan, the seller of the house in Gillingham who took part in the trial, said: “It was really straightforward. It shows how technology like this can help make everything so much quicker and you can see clearly what’s happening at every stage. If this is the way forward, it’s going to make everything easier.”

Nick Kirby, real estate technology specialist at Mishcon de Reya, said: “We have been working collaboratively with HMLR for around 12 months to help drive strategic thinking around how property transactions could take place in the future and improving the experience for consumers. That we have now found and implemented a real use case for smart contracts and blockchain in this area takes us from thinking to action which is hugely exciting.”

Nick West, chief strategy officer at Mishcon de Reya, added: “It is clear that, as it stands currently, real estate transactions are too slow. This affects buyers and sellers, particularly where transactions fail or are abandoned and at great cost. Technology, and especially blockchain, coupled with improved data management has a huge part to play in revolutionising this process.

“What’s exciting here is that this is a real world application of blockchain technology in our legal market. If we can turn this proof of concept into reality it will be of significant benefit to anyone buying or selling real estate assets in the UK.”