E-Conveyancing – will it make conveyancing more efficient?
1. What is E-Conveyancing?
The first question, really, is what is it NOT?
E-Conveyancing is NOT an ultra-modern, high-tech, digital (non-human interface) resolution and conclusion of the transfer of real estate from a vendor to a purchaser. A purchaser will not be able to log on, click on a property, put that property into his or her shopping trolley, make an online offer, receive a response and then click “accept” to become the new owner.
2. Well – what IS it?
E-Conveyancing is simply about the resolution of the far more mundane methodology of:
a) Allowing the parties to a transaction, including lending institutions, to use an electronic interface to view, and complete, documents in a transaction,
b) Allowing financial transactions to be completed on a pre-nominated date, including the payment of settlement monies to the various parties who may be entitled to receive them, and the payment of such things as stamp duty, and
c) Allowing the electronic lodgement of documents that are required to be registered to pass title and to evidence the payment of liabilities that are secured over land.
3. Did this happen overnight?
No – the move towards what we are now calling E-Conveyancing began prior to 2005, in which year the Law Council of Australia joined a National Steering Committee that had been set up by the NSW Department of Lands. In March 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to the development of the National Electronic Conveyancing System (NECS).
4. Where is it up to in September 2014?
E-Conveyancing went live in New South Wales on 8 October 2013. The initial release provided functionality for financial institutions to lodge mortgages and discharges of mortgages electronically. In the fourth quarter of 2014 the second release of E-Conveyancing in New South Wales will expand the range of functions available to include the financial settlement of transactions and the electronic lodgement of transfers of land and caveats.
5. Who runs it?
The implementation of the system will be run by Property Exchange Australia Limited (PEXA). PEXA is a company whose main financial stakeholders include the New South Wales, Victorian, Queensland and Western Australian Governments, as well as some of Australia’s largest financial institutions.
6. Will it make conveyancing more efficient?
I have to say that the answer to that question is ABSOLUTELY. There will be some reductions of disbursements such as the cost of settlement agents but, in reality, the settlement of the transaction is, itself, not a high cost item. It is all of the work that got the transaction to that point, particularly at the pre-contractual stage, which represents the real cost in any conveyancing transaction.
What E-Conveyancing will assist in doing is to reduce the failure rate of settlements themselves which often is caused by the simple need to have a number of parties at one place at one time. It will also simplify, and speed up, the processes of dealing with the monies involved and registration of the relevant documents (which also assists in protecting the legal interests of the parties).
John Cotter, Consultant
Phone: +61 2 9895 9234