A top Melbourne conveyancer has taken his business online to beef up his competitive edge
Glenferrie Conveyancing Pty Ltd director Andrew Rothfield says online property transactions will quickly catch on for busy conveyancers seeking a competitive edge. He explains why in a Q&A with PEXA after completing his first digital property transfer.
Q. Congratulations on completing your first online transfer. What prompted you to consider the merits of e-conveyancing?
I’m a fairly new entrant to conveyancing and have no paper in my office other than contracts. I do almost everything by e-mail and work mainly with scanned documents. I started by doing caveats online more than two years ago firstly with Victorian Electronic Conveyancing and now PEXA. The next logical step was to do a transfer. I want to be one of the early PEXA technology adopters.
“A million things can go wrong with settlement. With PEXA you have so much reassurance at the preparatory stage that settlement will succeed”
Q. Did you go online to resolve your problems or to improve your business?
For both reasons. Sometimes it seems as though a million things can go wrong with settlement. Up to 20 per cent of settlements can fail at the first attempt because some documents are missing or incorrect at the final stage. Sometimes settlement is deferred because one of the parties to the transaction is not ready. Ultimately if I can do 80 per cent of my transfers online it would completely change my working life as I spend so much of my day working on non-value adding tasks. The PEXA platform is fairly good and I have to say that I’m not usually easily impressed with software. With PEXA you do have reassurance throughout the preparatory stage that settlement will succeed.
“If I can do 80 per cent of my transfers online it would completely change my working life as I spend so much of my day working on non-value adding tasks”
Q. What are the main benefits?
I can do a PEXA transaction without making a phone call to the mortgagee. The real nirvana is making a transfer without picking up the phone and not having to deal with banks and call centres. Good conveyancing is about dealing with your own client. The other benefit is dealing with other parties as peers. PEXA users treat each other like friends. As an industry we have to ask what procedures add value. Where, for example, in running our businesses are we swimming laps and where are we drowning?
“The real nirvana is making a transfer without picking up the phone and not having to deal with banks and call centres”
Q. Can you paint a picture or an example of where going online recently helped your business?
I recently had a situation where I checked in to the PEXA Workspace for a transfer progress update. I left the Workspace and then returned later. In that time the transfer had been countersigned by the other party. PEXA brings a three dimensional view of the matter. With paper you can’t see when the other parties are ready. The PEXA system signals to you what the other parties are doing. These are attractive attributes that give practitioners the incentive they need to take their business online.
“PEXA brings a three dimensional view of a matter. With paper you can’t see when the other parties are ready”
Q. When do you think practitioners will make the move online?
Lost titles and missing documents are just a few of the problems that evaporate with online transfer. I can open a PEXA workspace and see a summary before settlement. I receive useful feedback and see the tasks that I need to complete. It’s a visual reward of what I have to do to get ready for settlement. At first I thought the PEXA screens were a bit busy. But when you make the effort to embark on your first transfer it becomes clear that this is the new best practice and the only way forward or many conveyancers will be left behind. Once practitioners make the leap and complete their first few transfers they’ll quickly want to do them all online.
“At first I thought PEXA screens were a bit busy. But when you make the effort to embark on the first transfer it becomes clear that this is the new best practice and the only way forward or many conveyancers will be left behind”
Q. What insights do you have for firms hesitant to go digital?
Looking into the future firms doing online transfers will become more cost effective with their service delivery, making real operational efficiency savings. Eventually the industry will have a shake out. Some will become unviable and stop conveyancing as they won’t be as efficient as others. It’s disappointing that the settlement agent industry will face major dislocation but it will become a relic of the paper-world. Ultimately PEXA is good for clients but even better for practitioners. I can tell you which system I’d rather use. PEXA will become our industry’s tool.
“Eventually the industry will have a shake out. Some will become unviable and stop conveyancing as they won’t be as efficient as others”
Q. What impetus is necessary to prompt practitioners to consider if e-conveyancing is right for their business model?
We need to improve practitioner’s confidence. You can’t underestimate how much better the PEXA process is. There are leaders and laggards. People are worn out with day to day non-value adding tasks yet PEXA is so streamlined. It’s designed to be easy for both practitioners and banks. In some ways it’s like driving a new car, when you’ve only been riding a bicycle around beforehand. It’s different and it has its quirks, and its issues. But once you get your head around it you won’t go back to an earlier model as the new standard is so much better.