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June 5, 2024
Street Blog

AML compliance for estate agents: the case for digital checks

Head of Sales

Picture this: your client’s property has been on the market a few weeks too long, and you’re starting to get nervous. Your vendor, too, is anxious to sell their property, so when an eager buyer puts in an offer, they readily accept. 

But, months down the line, it turns out that the funds used to purchase the property came from criminal activity.

As a busy agency, and with pressure being applied from both sides, no one thought to check the buyer’s identity. Now, your agency is facing hefty fines from HMRC, and significant reputational damage.

It’s a nightmare scenario, yes – but not as far-fetched as you might think. In 2023, HMRC issued nearly £2 million in fines to estate agents who neglected their AML obligations, with some individuals fined as much as £50,000. 

But wait. As an agent, you signed up to close deals, not play detective. So, how can digital checks help make sure you don’t fall for increasingly sophisticated fake documents? And how can you use technology to win back your agents’ time?

Mitigate financial (and reputational) risk 

According to a recent article, the 2022/23 financial year saw a 49% increase in average anti-money laundering fines.

What’s more, HMRC has begun ‘naming and shaming’ agencies who fail to register with them on time – highlighting their zero-tolerance approach, even in cases where AML breaches are accidental. 

The right digital AML tools can alleviate the pressure of staying on top of ever-evolving money laundering regulations, and, crucially, provide a clear digital audit trail to help your agency avoid any unwanted shoutouts from HMRC.

Agents can save up to 825 working days with digital checks

Under HMRC’s 2017 Money Laundering Regulations, you’re not just required to verify the identity of property buyers, but of vendors too. Between identity checks, proof of ownership, proof of address and source of funds (not to mention Enhanced Due Diligence in some cases), suddenly your to-do list just got a lot longer.

In fact, one study found that, for over half of the participants, AML could take between two days and a week, and for one in eight of the participants, checking documents took over a week.

With this in mind, we don’t blame you if you consider compliance an unwelcome burden – but what if there was a way to take this burden off your agency’s shoulders?

Recent data revealed that agents that automated their AML checks saved over 825 work days in total by automating time-consuming compliance tasks. With the right digital tools, ID checks, proof of address and proof of ownership tasks can be returned in just minutes in a comprehensive PDF report, giving you time to get back to what you do best.

Give your clients the experience they deserve

In a landscape where your clients can do everything from their phones, manual onboarding processes can feel frustrating, outdated and unnecessarily time-consuming.

Between the hassle of booking an appointment, photocopying the relevant documents, and visiting you in-branch, the admin attached to moving house can be a chore for your clients – and the data doesn’t lie.

One study found that 75% of respondents felt “communication was the hallmark of a good property service, especially by digital means”, and that they were “driven by the need for convenience”. 

So, how can you set your agency apart and give clients the convenient experience they’re used to from other services?

With’s client onboarding process, as soon as you’ve won an instruction, your client will receive a push notification, prompting them to complete their checks within the app.

They’ll be guided to submit the exact information you need to ensure you’re AML compliant, all from the comfort of their own home, and at a time that suits them. How’s that for convenience?

In short, automating what can be a painful process can give your clients a smoother, less stressful experience, reaffirming they’ve instructed the right agent.

Don’t be an easy target for fraudsters

How confident are you that you could identify a forged document? 

If you’d rather not answer, you’re not alone – just 33% of agents said they’d be able to recognise a fraudulent document when surveyed by Estate Agent Today. 

The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates that hundreds of billions of pounds are laundered through the UK property market every year. As criminals become more sophisticated, document forgeries are following suit, with experts warning that manual checks just aren’t worth the risk

Digital AML checks help to protect your agency from the financial and reputational consequences of fraud by verifying a document is genuine (so you don’t have to).

Plus, by clearly listing the checks that need to be done on applicants and vendors from the outset, the right tool will make sure you don’t miss any vital compliance steps that HMRC will look out for.

Automated AML can make for a streamlined, secure process

No more missed checks

Street’s specialist AML partners integrate into your sales process, sending you push notifications as soon as a new instruction is received and laying out the exact compliance tasks your clients need to complete from the get-go.

Never miss an AML check again – and effortlessly tick compliance off your list at the right time, every time.

Speed up transaction times

As a busy agent, every minute matters. Agents using’s integrated AML checks were able to win back a huge 825 work days, and say goodbye to the time-consuming task of chasing clients for their documents.

Reduce the compliance admin burden

By automating your AML checks, you can make sure your agency is covered should the worst happen – and that if you’re visited by HMRC, you have a ready-made digital audit trail’s digital AML process provides a clear breakdown of the compliance tasks required from the outset, and gives you live updates as clients complete their checks. The result? Total peace of mind.

Looking to cut out lengthy manual AML processes at your agency?

All Street’s agents can access digital AML checks right from their CRM. Not a current client? Get in touch with our team to learn more.