On 28 February 2017, the NSW Government set out a detailed timetable to transform NSW into, what it hopes to be, the world’s most efficient and secure place to buy and sell property electronically. Legally, the transferring of property from one owner to another is known as “conveyancing” and, as you would expect, when done electronically, is referred to as “eConveyancing”.
In eConveyancing, both parties, their representatives and their financiers, participate in an online workspace to transfer the property. These online workspaces are provided and managed by Property Exchange Australia Limited or “PEXA”. PEXA was originally formed in 2010 by the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) to deliver a single, national eConveyancing solution to the Australian property industry.
Through PEXA’s online system, parties to the workspace:
- Agree on the settlement date and time;
- Agree on how the balance of the purchase money and disbursements are to be disbursed;
- Prepare and electronically sign registry instruments (e.g. transfer, mortgage, discharge/release of mortgage; and
- Electronically lodge the registry instruments with the NSW Land Registry Services.
Although not all conveyancing processes are currently handled electronically, by 1 July 2019, any conveyancing transaction in New South Wales that can be lodged electronically will be required to be lodged electronically.
To move to complete eConveyancing, paper certificates of title will become a thing of the past and be replaced with electronic Certificate of Titles or “eCTs”. In fact, during each weekend this September, paper CTs held by all authorised deposit-taking Institutions (e.g. banks) were converted to eCTs. Moving forward, the title register will simply record which party has the ‘Control of the Right to Deal’ (‘CoRD’) with the property, e.g. the owner of the property or, say, a bank. By the deadline date of 1 July 2019, all paper certificates of titles will be cancelled.
To ensure that the system is as secure as possible, eConveyancing requires legal representatives to take reasonable steps to identify their clients by a “Verification of Identity” (or ‘VOI’) check. Generally, this is an easy process which requires meeting with your legal representative face-to-face and providing them with your driver’s licence and passport, certified copies of which they keep on file. Your legal representative can advise you further of the requirements, should you not be able to attend face-to-face or not have the necessary documents.
All in all, the move to eConveyancing will be challenging at first but, with every industry going through a digital transformation of some sort, it will ensure that both legal practitioners and their clients keep pace with the digital age.
At & Legal, we have been heavily involved with keeping up-to-date with the changes from paper conveyancing to eCoveyancing via PEXA. Give us a call if you’re buying or selling a property and we will gladly guide you through the online process.