The conveyancing landscape is rapidly evolving to keep up with our digitally driven world.
With advancements in technology, the conveyancing process can now be done online. This is known as e-conveyancing.
What is e-conveyancing?
Conveyancing refers to the process of transferring ownership of a property and has traditionally been complex and time consuming.
Also known as electronic settlement, e-conveyancing is now paving the way for a more refined, streamlined property transaction process.
It reduces the manual paperwork involved in property exchange by allowing multiple parties to transact together on a digital platform, generally provided by Property Exchange Australia (PEXA).
Using this platform, financial institutions, lawyers and conveyancers can all access relevant records and legal documentation required to settle a property transaction.
Supported by the property industry, e-conveyancing was spearheaded by the government to bring the multifaceted process of conveyancing into a digital environment.
In 2012, e-conveyancing legislation was introduced in the form of the Electronic Conveyancing National Law 2012. This legislation mandates the transitioning from conveyancing to electronic settlement in Australia and is implemented by separate legislation in each state and territory.
In 2018, it became compulsory in most states (excluding Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Tasmania) to electronically lodge all caveats and standalone transfers, along with mortgages, refinances and discharges of mortgage.
New South Wales and Victoria have transitioned to 100 per cent electronic conveyancing and will phase out paper certificates of title by July 2019.
How to settle online
Settlements conducted through digital platforms remove the requirement for hard copy documents. This means financial institutions, lawyers and conveyancers don’t need to be physically present at settlement.
To start the e-conveyancing process, one of the parties will create an electronic workspace on a platform like PEXA. Once this space is created other parties are invited to join.
Formed in 2010 by the Council of Australian Governments, PEXA is an online property exchange network that assists members to lodge documents with Land Registries and complete financial settlements electronically.
Services like PEXA reduce the preparation and attendance previously required at settlement and limit post-settlement tasks such as payments and notification requirements.
Using these services, conveyancers and solicitors can conduct title searches, lodge documents and transfer funds.
What are the benefits?
The main benefit of e-conveyancing is its convenience. Electronic settlement can be performed regardless of location, meaning documentation can be easily accessed by relevant parties.
This accessibility allows for better transparency between the seller and buyer by keeping them updated on any transaction developments.
Notifications also inform financial institutions, conveyancers and solicitors of what needs to be lodged and can help to speed up the settlement.
While there are many benefits to electronic settlement, it’s important to be aware of the difficulties involved.
The main challenge is making sure all relevant parties understand how to use electronic settlement platforms. Given e-conveyancing is relatively new, training may need to be implemented to ensure all parties have the appropriate skills.
E-conveyancing also assumes that individuals have access to the internet.
For more information and advice on conveyancing, read ‘Choosing a Conveyancer or Solicitor for your investment property’.