‘Gearing’ up for change - Thomson Geer drives into the digital era
Innovation and Tech

‘Gearing’ up for change - Thomson Geer drives into the digital era

By PEXA • Dec 2017

“Technological changes have been foreshadowed since the early 1990’s but have now gained a momentum which is ever increasing. Essentially, there’s been more change in how we conduct property settlements in the last two years than in the previous 50” …

There’s a new dynamic in play for lawyers closing real estate sales for developer clients. A commitment to banish cheques, paper and human error from property settlement. As Thomson Geer Partner Eu Ming Lim explains, the last two years stand in stark contrast to the previous 50 – with more reform to come from government agencies.

“It’s both an exciting and challenging time for the legal sector as we come to grips with new technology and apply it for the benefit of our clients,” he said. “Unlike a lot of litigation, property transactions are not a zero sum game where one party wins and the other loses. Both parties are working towards the same outcome which is settlement. This applies just as much to mums and dads who are buying their residence as it does to developers who make their living from property.

Achieve end goals more quickly and with less stress

“To date, organising and attending physical settlements has been extremely time consuming and at times incredibly frustrating. Clients do not see the value in this part of the process. As a result, the time spent – which can be substantial – adds little value and often cannot be billed. PEXA is bringing faster electronic settlements without endless telephone calls and emails – a legacy of the past. And by abolishing the need to leave the office to physically attend settlement, our lawyers and paralegals are making more efficient use of their time.

Thomson Geer’s innovation plan. Do more – expend less time

“Over a year ago we introduced a less paper policy across all of our offices which, amongst other things, resulted in the abolition of hard copy files. All staff including partners have undertaken substantial modernisation training to ensure that all of our people are able to use the available technology to the highest level.

Sharing digital transformation learnings

“Within the firm, we have regular lunchtime sessions conducted by our technology team and an internal chatroom where staff can ask questions and share solutions. Within each property team, we have a lawyer and secretary who have the responsibility of staying in touch with changes and briefing the rest of the team.  Technological changes have been foreshadowed since the early 1990’s but have now gained a momentum which is ever increasing. Essentially, there’s been more change in how we conduct property settlements in the last two years than in the previous 50.

Online transactions can facilitate faster profits for developer clients

“In making the settlement process more streamlined and cost effective, PEXA allows all parties to achieve their end goals more quickly and with less stress. Electronic transactions will uncouple Thomson Geer from paper, cheques and human error. Ultimately, by speeding up the time to process settlements we can do more and expend less time. Property developers make their living from property settlements. By making the settlement process more efficient and less bureaucratic, digital transactions will allow developers to earn their profits faster which in turn will fuel further developments as they reinvest those profits back into property. The more quickly they can undertake settlements, the more quickly they can pay out their lender too.

What does success looks like for Thomson Geer and its clients in the electronic era?

“For the Property team this will be the complete abolition of hard copy documents for property transactions through the use of DOC U Sign for Contracts of Sale, the State Revenue Office Duties Online system and PEXA for settlement and Land registry documents. The challenge for the providers of these various platforms is to make them seamless and able to cope with transactions other than simple conveyances so that this can be achieved.

The next frontier – reforming Victoria’s SRO Duties Online

“Various government agencies proceeding down this path need to continue to consult with the legal profession to ensure that the practical effects of the introduced technologies are properly considered and included in the end product. They also need to ensure that their own employees are familiar with the new technologies and able to provide adequate and correct advice.

“An example of this is Victoria’s new SRO Duties Online system. To deal with bulk settlements we have a technology platform which inserts the relevant information into the duties form for each lot in a development automatically so that we do not have to complete hundreds of individual forms. As it currently stands, the SRO Duties Online system does not allow the relevant forms to be downloaded to our system which means that we cannot use our internal platforms to insert the relevant information for each lot. We look forward to the next stage of development when hopefully the new system will cater for bulk settlements.”

PEXA recently unveiled its PEXA Projects innovation. The solution delivers lawyers and conveyancers the capability to electronically settle multi-lot developments, bringing efficiency benefits to mortgage lenders, developers and real estate consumers. To learn more about this reform contact josh.radford@pexa.com.au

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