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Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring the ownership of property from one person to another. Conveyancing includes, but is not limited to the preparation, verification and lodgement of a range of important legal documents, conducting searches on the title and arranging and attending settlement.
What is e-conveyancing?
In 2010, a national electronic property exchange platform (E-Conveyancing) was introduced throughout Australia. The purpose of E-Conveyancing is to streamline the settlement process whilst providing support to the property industry as we move towards a digital future.
The current conveyancing practice is vastly completed in a paper dependent environment. Settlement is usually attended by a representative of each party where an exchange of paper transfer documents and bank cheques occur. After settlement, registration of the documents at the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DERM) takes place in conjunction with the banking of the settlement funds at the nominated banks.
E-Conveyancing will now allow a Solicitor to complete the settlement process online on behalf of their client, in addition to preparing and lodging documents electronically with DERM. E-Conveyancing will eliminate the need for the physical exchange to occur making settlement paperless, cashless and of course faster.
Rapid Conveyancing is one of four Legal Firms within Townsville that are leading the industry by providing their clients with the option of conducting an E-Conveyancing property settlement through PEXA. PEXA is one of the largest E-Conveyancing platforms in Australia, currently available in five states and offering services to different industries including financial institutions and the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Benefits to E-Conveyancing?
It is envisioned that E-Conveyancing will allow more transparency and reduce errors that can sometimes occur in the settlement process.
Of course, there are many benefits to settling a matter online for the Solicitor (including time) but there are also advantages to the Buyer and Seller of the property such as:
- For the Seller of a property, E-Conveyancing means that instead of waiting days for cheques to clear PEXA provides faster digital payments directly to the Seller’s nominated account.
- As is the case with any industry, there is always the risk of minor human errors occurring in the documents, which can prolong the settlement. With PEXA the online documents are checked on a regular basis, which can reduce the chance of errors, resulting in a quicker and less stressful process for all parties involved.
- It can take days or even weeks after settlement for documents to be lodged for the ownership of the property to be registered. PEXA provides a platform for the documents to be lodged instantly.
- Digital settlements eliminate the need for bank cheques to be drawn, saving the Buyer bank fees. As there is less need for paperwork, the cost of postage is also reduced. In some instances where the settlement is to occur outside of the scope of the Lawyer’s location, a town agent may be required at the cost of the Buyer or Seller (up to $110). As E-Conveyancing is done online there will not be a need for a town agent with PEXA.
- Tracking your settlement. Apps have been designed to allow the Buyer or Seller of a property, settling their matter electronically, to track the progress of the settlement in real-time including instant updates via SMS or email. PEXA provides their clients with the SettleMe app allowing an up to date personalised checklist and a customised dashboard to easily track the process of the settlement.
Changes to the Conveyancing process
To allow the electronic changes to the conveyancing process to occur new residential Contracts were introduced. The new Contracts allow for the payment of the balance of purchase price to be transferred electronically where the previous versions could not.
A regulatory framework has also been introduced by the Australian Registrars National Electronic Conveyancing Council to ensure the security and integrity of the platform is monitored and maintained. New measures have been developed and will continue to be developed to safe guard the industry, including Verification of Identity, Digital Certificates and Participation Agreements.
Importance of Conveyancing Professionals
For a Contract to participate in E-Conveyancing, both the Seller and the Buyer will need to agree to use the online service. E-Conveyancing is not mandatory and the parties of a property transaction should elect whichever process is more suitable to both parties’ needs.
E-Conveyancing will not however reduce the importance of relying on professionals to assist with the conveyancing of your property. Conveyancing in Queensland is complex and is affected by many different pieces of State and Federal legislation, contract conditions, extensive case law and practice guidelines. Engaging a Solicitor or conveyancing professional to provide legal advice on the transaction, complete the necessary legal documents, searches and calculate the settlement adjustments for rates, water and/or body corporate levies will still be essential.
At this stage only a Solicitor can be registered to participate in an electronic settlement. Self–acting Buyers or Sellers will not have access to PEXA and will need to engage a Solicitor to act on their behalf to settle the matter.
The E-Conveyancing system is still considered a new system in Queensland and the traditional manual paper settlements are still widely used especially in Far North Queensland. Rapid Conveyancing is currently offering this progressive form of electronic conveyancing to both the Seller and the Buyer of a property matter.
This document offers general information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice under any circumstances. Please do not hesitate to contact Rapid Conveyancing on (07) 4755 9150 to speak with one of our friendly professionals if you require assistance with your conveyancing matter.