Paperless and faster conveyancing: this is the vision of Australia’s major states heading into the near future.
Traditionally, the whole conveyancing process – which involves the legal preparation of documents for the transfer of property – can take up to 30 days. But with advancements in electronic conveyancing, the potential for completely paperless conveyancing might just be around the corner – possibly reducing settlement time to as short as seven days.
As early as 2014, the national government began implementing a standardized national conveyancing system via Property Exchange Australia or PEXA, an online property exchange system that allows numerous property transactions to go paperless.
PEXA enables electronic lodgement of documents with the local Land Registry. It also helps facilitate the exchange of funds, payment of stamp duty, and other third-party beneficiaries. In addition, PEXA removes the need for bank cheques at settlement, also eliminating the wait that goes with them.
But most important of all, PEXA removes the need for homebuyers and sellers to attend settlements physically, as all the documents uploaded in PEXA are considered legally binding.
Though privately owned, PEXA is expected to handle 60% to 70% of all conveyancing transactions in the country once it is fully integrated into the legal practice. It is now available in all states and territories.
With the implementation of PEXA, digitally-signed electronic documents are now regarded as being valid as signed paper documents. Solicitors are also authorised to digitally sign documents on the client’s behalf once the solicitor obtains client authorisation.
The full digitalisation of conveyancing serves to make the process a more affordable, more streamlined, and more time-efficient method of completing transactions than traditional conveyancing.
E-conveyancing is also beneficial to conveyancers because it leads to less room for human error, eliminating reworks caused by mistakes in paper-based conveyancing. It also significantly reduces delays and the stress of property settlement experienced by both home-buyers and sellers.
State initiatives drive faster processing
Each state is also doing its part in reducing the conveyancing process to just seven days.
The New South Wales government is planning to phase out paper certificates of title by 2019 to give way to a nationally consistent e-conveyancing system, which is considered to be cheaper, more reliable, and more secure. According to Finance, Services, and Property Minister Dominic Perrottet, this move could help businesses, communities, and the government save as much as $50 million annually.
In fact, the use of electronic contracts in the sale of apartments at Crown Group’s Infinity Project in Sydney saved around 300,000 pieces of paper, not to mention the fact that it accelerated the whole property transaction.
Another state planning to shift towards e-conveyancing completely is Queensland, where digital conveyancing was first introduced in December 2015 using PEXA. The Queensland legislature also proposed the Land and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 to reduce red tape and further hasten property transactions.
Western Australia started using PEXA as early as September 2015, while Victoria has required all standalone discharges of mortgage and mortgages governed by the National Credit Code to be lodged online starting August 2016.
Conveyancing may not yet be as swift as a seven-day process, but at Think Conveyancing we’re always on hand to help you make the legal process of buying and selling property as smooth as possible. For an obligation-free chat about your situation, contact our friendly team on 1300 932 738 or request a free quote online.