‘What would you do if property settlements were no longer able to take place manually tomorrow’?
North-West Melbourne based Boss Conveyancing, has quickly transitioned its business to be digital-ready. The firm’s director, Sally Nguyen, shares why she’s making the move to settle property transfers online in an intensely competitive market.
Q. Well done Sally for backing new technology by encouraging other conveyancers to also come on board and exchange property online. What prompted you to take the plunge with digital settlement?
When I heard PEXA was helping industry transition to e-Conveyancing I was very curious as to what change this could bring to our line of work. I attended a PEXA seminar and the excitement in introducing a new way of conveyancing was very intriguing! It made settlements sound painless, straight forward and fast.
Q. Can you briefly paint a picture of your local real estate market and how you differentiate your service?
While located in a North Western suburb of Melbourne, our firm deals with a wide range of conveyancing transactions across Victoria including purchase and sale of residential dwellings, purchase and sale of off the plan properties, plan of subdivision and transfers of title. The knowledge and experience our team has is extensive. We have years of work experience and the knowledge gleaned from a real estate background helps inform our clients. All of our team is bilingual. This is a great asset to our clients. And this is why we are heavily investing in PEXA. It’s fast and efficient which will only help us grow. This is great for us and great for our clients. It serves our purpose and business model as a modern conveyancing firm.
Q. You have a real estate background. Can you explain if this is an advantage working as a conveyancer?
Most definitely. As a conveyancer you work closely with real estate agents, brokers and bankers. To be able to help each other to complete a smooth transaction – you have to understand the process.
Having a real estate background helped me understand the dynamics in real estate and how to deal with certain situations. However, for my clients, sometimes when they are sceptical about whether to sign a contract or unsure before they go to auction – I can help guide them step by step right from the very beginning to end. We’re not just about conveyancing and how stress-free it can be to settle a home. We’re about how stress-free it can be to buy or sell a home throughout. That means knowing a little bit of everything to guide clients through and point them in the right direction.
Q. Word is spreading that you’re sending lots of invitations to your peers in Melbourne’s north-west suburbs inviting them to transact. Are other conveyancers willing to innovate with you?
Wherever I can, I love to. Recently we’ve started to be really active, inviting any parties that are registered on PEXA to complete a settlement online regardless of where they’re located. You have some firms actively accepting and communicating via PEXA. But unfortunately, some firms aren’t wanting to adapt to this positive change. Perhaps it’s too new or they don’t have the time to give it a chance. We were nervous at the start. Change can be scary. But when Linda Thai from PEXA came and met us, it was comforting and it was a breeze to get started. Many more firms should really consider putting aside 30 minutes with their PEXA trainer if they haven’t already.
Q. Some conveyancers are finding efficiency and cost benefits by embracing digital technology. What has been your experience?
I find it easy to adapt to. As a licenced conveyancer I know what’s best for my client. As a PEXA user I know the discharge and caveat fees lodgement fees are cheaper. I also save time on bookings, lodgements and stamping. It’s a no-brainer. You simply incorporate the PEXA fee into your current fees. Look at it this way – when a Vendor sells and is told they need to pay $112.60 to discharge their mortgage we explain that this is a mandatory fee. It’s the same as a settlement fee. If it costs ‘X’ amount to complete the file, it’s a fee that needs to be accounted for.
Q. What are the benefits of going digital compared with sticking with the traditional paper-based way of settling property transactions?
Many including minimising the risk of settlement falling over due to shortfall via bank cheques. I also save paper. There are no settlement agents being late from another settlement. No bank cheque fees. Funds instantly clear for my vendors (depending on their financial institution). Our fee is instantly paid. If settlement is not ready to take place in one allocated time slot, PEXA automatically moves settlement into the next time slot. Instantly assess stamp duty payable. No lost bank cheques in the mail to council and water authorities.
Q. Are there any productivity and efficiency benefits that you’ve experienced by making the switch from settling property online rather than using paper processes?
One hundred percent. Saving time on the phones with banks when making bookings including sending emails to book settlements with the other side. Communication with all relevant parties is easy on PEXA – you’re all basically in the same workspace to confirm available funds, see everything and complete tasks.
Q. Have you had any feedback from clients after transacting online?
Clients have previously asked me: “Do people still use bank cheques? It’s the 21st century. Don’t my funds clear straight away?” Now I can tell them no more bank cheques and YES funds will clear on the same day (depending on who they bank with).
Q. How can e-conveyancing help grow your business to be more competitive?
We can be faster and more efficient. We’re growing with the world by embracing online technology to make the most of what we have. Our business model is to grow and learn where we can – PEXA is it. There is always room for improvement and e-conveyancing is just the beginning.
Q. What advice would you offer to firms that are already internet banking and using other e-commerce platforms but have been slow to make the switch online for property settlement?
Jump on it now! If you’re already fortunate enough to be tech-savvy with internet banking and other e-commerce platforms – what is stopping you from learning just one more thing? It’s going to happen sooner or later so get on board now.
Q. Crystal ball gazing time. Property transactions have been slow to move online. When do you expect that more firms will make the switch online? What will help them to turn to high-tech solutions like PEXA?
While some business owners are comfortable with their daily routine and sending their settlement packets to a certain agent – it will eventually phase out. It just takes a mandatory regulation to rule out paper settlements and then they HAVE to make the transition. Or it might just take an open mind to allow and accept change. It’s really simple – you just have to get out of your comfort zone. Victoria recently undertook a bulk conversion of titles to electronic format on 22 October 2016. Everyone just had to adapt to the change. The question conveyancers need to ask themselves is – ‘what would you do if settlements were no longer able to take place manually tomorrow’?
Ready to settle your clients' properties online in Victoria but need a bit of help to get started? PEXA has dedicated specialists trained to guide your practice to a digital future. Even better, it's a free service. Get started by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org