“The commitment and decision has been made for electronic conveyancing and the transition needs to be moved along. It’s important that we transact electronically. The process should be relevant to the time that we’re in."
Digital innovation was at the heart of the conveyancing industry’s transformation in 2017. But how will 2018 play out?
The last 12 months have been revolutionary for transferring property in Australia. On the back of government-led compliance dates and an increasing push towards digital operations, the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (AIC) believe that it’s time to consolidate the transition to fully electronic transactions.
The AIC is the leading representative body for conveyancers in the country, with a national presence supplemented by state specific divisions.
Established more than 25 years ago, the AIC is a national advocate and spokesperson for the interests of conveyancers.
Committed to the advancement of the industry, the AIC has been facilitating the education of conveyancers, legal practitioners and their staff by running workshops on e-Conveyancing and partnering with the land registries in both NSW and Victoria, with more than 450 people in NSW alone attending training since last September.
The new era has arrived
Electronic transactions are the present and not the future according to AIC National President Shane Jacob – and he points out that the shift is already well established.
“I think the conversation needs to be based not on justifying this, but more about talking in the ‘here and now’ – that it’s here and it’s growing and that we’re well into the implementation phase.
“If this is a bell curve, I think that we’re starting to come down the other side and level out as far as change goes.”
On the back of significant deadlines and with further government compliance dates approaching, Shane feels that turning on digital transactions is logical given today’s tech-driven climate.
“2017 was important because of the amount of land registry requirements that were implemented,” he noted.
“The commitment and decision has been made for electronic conveyancing and the transition needs to be moved along. It’s important that we transact electronically. The process should be relevant to the time that we’re in.
“For conveyancers to be able to check PEXA transactions from their smart phone outside the office instead of being tied to their desk all day is a huge benefit. It’s the way of our future.”
AIC tips? Plan and manage
Over 5,400 legal and practitioner firms have subscribed to the electronic transaction platform, PEXA, with nearly 150 mortgage lenders also joining the network.
Subscriber numbers are on the rise as the land registries work towards 100% digital. Shane’s key advice is that the transition to digital processes is simple if you are proactive and organised.
“The big thing we suggest is to plan and manage it as a bit of a project, plan your timelines, budget for possible upgrades to business systems and capitalise on the training and support which is available. That way, it’s more of a controlled transition to work in with your business.
“Conveyancers have to meet the deadlines, but it’s about setting a manageable timeframe to make the process adjustments.
“Some conveyancers and law firms came along to workshops with the firm principal and the staff to work through it together by building a better understanding of their respective roles and how to meet the mandatory obligations of e-Conveyancing.”
The year in front of us
While the path ahead is exciting, Shane acknowledges that other external factors will need to be navigated.
“With different changes to other laws … there’s a lot of regulatory overlay that’s challenging conveyancers.
“Property is the biggest asset class in the country and everyone is putting a big spotlight on it.”
But ultimately, Shane is confident that the final goal remains the same – it is just the path to get there that has been altered.
“At the end of the day, all a consumer wants to know is that the transfer of legal ownership of the property occurs seamlessly. They’ve already committed to a sale or purchase and they just want it to happen.”