In October 2013, New South Wales first experienced electronic lodgement and registration of land dealings. In Victoria, financial institutions have been settling discharges of mortgages, withdrawals of caveats and refinance transactions electronically even longer. Queensland expects its first electronic land title dealings in the next few months.
It is expected that solicitors and conveyancers will be able to conduct all aspects of conveyancing transactions electronically along the eastern seaboard within a year. National e-conveyancing is here to stay! Jacqueline Law, a lawyer in our Property & Projects team, tells you what you need to know about the new digital environment for land title dealings being progressively rolled out across Australia.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
E-conveyancing means lawyers will be able to conduct settlements, digitally sign and lodge land transfers, pay duty, discharge mortgages and lodge caveats at each State land registry without any physical documentation.
All this will be undertaken on a national digital system known as Property Exchange Australia (“PEXA”) which is accessed by Land Titles Offices and Registries, financial institutions, lawyers and conveyancers, State Revenue Offices and peak industry bodies such as the Australian Institute of Conveyancers and the Law Council of Australia. Lawyers will need to obtain their client’s authority before using the system to undertake a transaction.
HOW E-CONVEYANCING OPERATES
The final details of how e-conveyancing is to operate are yet to be determined but it is expected that:
- The PEXA system will link conveyancing practitioners, banks and land registries. Once parties lodge information for a particular matter, it will immediately be seen by the other parties.
- The subscriber will prepare and lodge the transfer online by completing appropriate details through the PEXA system.
- Completion occurs when settlement funds arrive in the vendor’s solicitor trust account. Stamp Duty on the transfer will need to be paid prior to settlement.
- Confirmation of completion is given by the subscriber to the purchaser (or their legal representative).
- The Titles Register is either updated live online or promptly processed by the Registry following settlement.
Australia has about 5 million property transactions each year with an estimated value of $2.5 billion. Once the e-conveyancing system is bedded down, it will result in less room for error in the process and it is expected to result in savings of around 10% on transactions.