When this conveyancer founded her practice in 1989 typewriters were that era’s ‘disrupters’. When computers arrived people were scared. Yes. Really
When Complete Conveyancing’s Director Joan Lentini founded her practice in 1989 typewriters were that era’s ‘disrupters’. When computers arrived people were scared. Yes. Really.
The Port Melbourne born and bred conveyancer remembers when people could still bag-a-bargain with some inner city homes selling for just $30,000. And she recalls the tale of a Mount Macedon solicitor who – up against the clock to get a bank cheque to finalise settlement – decided that the fastest way to get to the bank was by jumping on a horse and riding through the town’s back blocks and paddocks. Now she’s urging the conveyancing industry to take property transactions online. Here’s why.
I was scared of computers…
I started out using manual typewriters (punching ink ribbon letters onto paper). Mistakes were covered with paper correction fluid. When electric typewriters followed I didn’t want to move up. And like so many others I was scared of computers when they first arrived. But over the years I’ve witnessed people attend settlement at different venues with the wrong documents. Banks have even lost titles on the way to settlement. That’s why I can’t wait for digital to catch on.
Everyone needs to go digital
I’m all for digital settlements. The next generation of conveyancers will want to do it all online. And the harsh reality is that some of the older generation won’t move with change. They will wait it out and retire. Having seen so many shifts in behaviours and new technologies my advice is don’t ignore the change. Listen to the people who’ve had positive experiences in the digital world but were initially hesitant to move on.
My first digital transaction
My first transaction showed me that even if I leave all the PEXA steps to the last minute it can still be done in one day and take away some of my daily pressures. I didn’t need to hire and pay a courier to rush a file to the settlement agent. I didn’t need to run around to get transfers signed. There was no need to pay a settlement agent to go into town for stamping and lodging transactions. And my staff spent less time waiting to finish photocopying. In the manual world I juggle running back and forth to the office, posting transfers to clients then waiting for the returned forms – again by post. A property settlement can take several hours and stretch over four to five days. But we should be spending our time growing our client base, delivering a better service and cutting out unnecessary costs if the technology is there.
Lessons learned from the sale of an $8 million property
I recall acting for the other side of the sale of a large $8 million reception centre. Our respective files were six inches thick. The other side’s bank was online but the practitioners wouldn’t proceed. All the adjustments could have been simply processed online. Instead it was a drawn out settlement that had me catching a cab back and forth to the office attending multiple tasks. The client had to wait days to get his money. These are the big issues that we have to talk about. Had this transaction been online this wouldn’t have happened. And the client could have promptly had the money with interest accruing on his account.*
*The vendor client may have access to cleared funds on settlement day depending on the bank/institution they transact with.
This year it’s a different ball game – more people are using PEXA with 50% signed up
I’m quietly surprised and pleased to hear that people are jumping on board. Last year I encountered people who voiced reasons to push back against going online. The last several weeks of 2015 were so hectic that people might not have had time. This year it’s a different ball game – more people are using PEXA with 50% signed up. Now there’s light at the end of the tunnel. More and more practitioners are saying this is the time to look at the digital format.
I want half of the industry to be online by the end of 2016
It would be great to see if at least half of the lawyers and conveyancers settling properties are transacting online by the end of the year. At my end I’m still frustrated by some banks refusing electronic settlement. Some of the practitioners I speak with are ready to transact online. We need to remove any remaining roadblocks.
Even the state revenue office has slammed the door on the past
Going online won’t be optional in the near future. Even the state revenue office has slammed the door on the past. We can no longer pay duties over the counter. And Land Victoria (and other titles’ offices) are also going this way.
My paper files will be cut in half
Going digital removes up to five property settlement steps. For example, preparing the settlement packet, sending it to a settlement agent, attending settlement, arranging bank cheques, stamping and lodging. This saves my clients money in the short term. Plus I know the job’s well done. There’s no racking my memory as to whether we’ve forgotten documents – it’s all done online. I expect most of the files that I keep will also be scanned in the near future - other than original signatures that I’m obliged to keep in hard copy format.
With PEXA funds are disbursed and documents lodged online within minutes
How was your PEXA Direct experience?
There are so many things that can go wrong at settlement. Problems with the trust account. Problems with adjustments. And the only way they can be fixed is with people directly stepping in. So when I met my PEXA Direct Specialists for the first time I went from being scared to finding that there were no problems at all and everything was fine. PEXA’s Jennifer Ivosevic is a marvel. Jennifer – and before her Andrew Skim – were there to guide me through my first few transactions. I came in scared that I’d be left alone to do the transaction. But I was so confident the next time around. The PEXA support has been outstanding. Andrew and Jennifer have been there from every moment. They made sure that everything went through without any issues at all.
Joan Lentini is the President of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (AIC), Victoria. Together with other AIC committee members Joan provided early feedback on PEXA’s functionality ahead of its June 2013 national release.