At the risk of sounding rude, Julie Beaumont, Licensee at Sapphire Conveyancing, has a few conveyancing runs on the board. She’s been settling property since 1978 and is well versed in how the industry used to operate.
However, digital innovation, or e-Conveyancing, has changed an entire industry in Australia’s largest geographical state. It placed Sapphire Conveyancing at a cross roads – either adapt or die.
Initially, Julie was apprehensive of ‘going digital’ and was reluctant heading down that path.
“I’m old. I’ve been around almost as long as conveyancing itself – in fact, prior to the writing of the Settlement Agents Act. My resistance was because the manual system we had was tried and tested. I didn’t want to learn something new and different at this stage of my career.
“I know stories of older conveyancers selling-up or ceasing business operation ahead of the transition to online property settlement. This change caused that much angst.”
If resistance was there to begin with, using PEXA certainly didn’t alleviate early fears for Julie.
“Once manual settlement was booked-in, I put my file in my tray, I knew it was balanced and ready to go – pending a payout figure from a bank. I found with electronic that I had to keep revisiting a digital file because others in the workspace weren’t ready to go, or forgot things, or were inaccurate.
According to Julie, her concerns were often echoed by many users of the Western Australian Conveyancing Facebook page she used to moderate. Being moderator gave Julie somewhat of a pedestal and her opinions held weight in the west. As a basic principle, Julie has a mindset of continual improvement.
“I’m a prolific reader and I love acquiring new knowledge, yet in relation to online property settlement, I’d avoided doing just that at first. I started reading what I could about it and applying my learnings. In the end, I wanted to be a positive force for change in my industry for my state.
“I quickly got a handle of PEXA after I’d settled a few properties digitally. There’s obvious efficiencies there and I can see it becoming the most trusted and reliable tool to settle property. If all parties are involved in the workspace there really should be no issue in settling electronically.”
It’s within the last six months that Sapphire Conveyancing has really started progressing settlements down the electronic channel. While Julie and her business have been at the recent forefront of this ramp-up, evidence suggests they’re not alone. More than 437 conveyancing firms are PEXA-subscribed in Western Australia ahead of the 1 May 2018 standalone transfer compliance date.
“There are still some naysayers that have a very loud voice who sometimes impact others. From my conversations and based on what I’m seeing though, I believe the industry in Western Australia is tracking in the right direction. I’m now dealing with more conveyancers and banks wanting to settle online.”
Julie’s message for the industry is as poetic as the language often used in her beloved books: “I just wish they’d bloody mandate it and be done with it and stick to it. The sooner everyone is using PEXA, the better”.
More information about being digital-ready ahead of the 1 May 2018 standalone transfer compliance date can be found on the e-Conveyancing Community.