Ahead of South Australia's switch to online property settlements, members of the industry share their experiences and excitement as the state gets ready to go digital.
South Australia’s property industry is about to reach a significant milestone – from 3 August, all eligible dealings will move online. This sees SA join Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia as national leaders in driving the digitisation of the sector.
Electronic property settlements represent the most transformative change to the industry in 150 years. And this next step, driven by practitioners, financial institutions, peak bodies, the land registry and government, is set to provide a raft of benefits to both the network and the state’s homebuyers and sellers.
The beginning and the benefits
As we approach this next landmark, it would be remiss of us not to reflect on where the journey started.
There have been many people instrumental to the industry’s transition and Rebecca Hayes, AICSA CEO since 2015, has been one of the industry’s key leaders.
She speaks candidly about the initial vision for a digital future and how this would enhance the experience firms could provide consumers.
“As a former conveyancer and business owner, I saw the benefits e-conveyancing would bring to a business way back in 2004 when we started talking about this seriously. As our lives become more and more influenced and enabled through digital solutions it made sense that the settlement of a conveyance would also move in this direction. The efficiencies, transparency and agility of e-settlement are plainly evident.
“But what I saw as critical was the time a conveyancer could spend servicing their client. No longer spending hours each day travelling to the LTO to stand in queues, a focus could be made on working both on and in your business more effectively. Using this time to build up relationships with key stakeholders, spending time with your client, considering contracts and advice more thoroughly and making time to invest in your own self development and wellbeing are all essential to growth as a business, a person and a team member.”
Unprecedented capacity to support clients
Working digitally encourages collaboration among the various parties and promotes fast, safe and secure settlements.
However, property transactions are inherently complex – and things don’t always go to plan. Jeff Stevens, Director at Stevens Partners, knows this very well. But his business can point to a matter that demonstrates how technology opens new doors and possibilities for supporting clients.
“Our firm completed a five-property sale and refinance deal involving 12 parties, spread across three states – which was one of the most complex PEXA transactions completed. Apart from it being a complicated transaction, it was clear that using PEXA was the only way the matter could be completed.”
Both practitioners and banks ultimately work to provide the best outcome for their mutual clients – the homebuyer and seller. Westpac’s Sarah Jewell, recalls her ‘penny-drop’ moment – when she knew that digital settlements would be the way of the future.
“Very early in our digital journey, I received a phone call from a Home Finance Manager regarding the need for an incredibly urgent settlement within the hour or one of our customers would have no home over the weekend.
“The practitioner was willing to do the settlement in PEXA, and we were able to get the entire settlement done from invitation to settlement in an hour. This kind of thing was unheard of in a paper environment. In that moment I knew we could deliver an amazing experience for customers.”
With more than 80% of property settlements already being processed electronically, the future looks bright for South Australia.
Casting an eye forward, Rebecca believes that this is only the beginning – and that industry will continue to go from strength to strength in the months and years ahead.
“The value is immense, and I think we will look back in 10 years’ time astonished at just what that value actually is, there are still so many untapped and unknown benefits yet to emerge.
“As client’s become more and more digitally savvy, a conveyancer must be ahead of the game. There is an expectation from clients’ that they can interact with their conveyancer in a digital manner – and on their own terms. Digital solutions that provide for signing of contracts, sharing of personal details, sourcing work, utility connection options and transparent and open communications are just some of the opportunities that should be adopted now. I am genuinely excited to see what is yet to come!”
To commence your PEXA registration, click here.