E-Conveyancing set to change the face of investment.

By Domenic Belfiore

With increasing media attention being paid to the role of property investment in the national economy, and the housing industry, it’s important to know how this vast area of real estate is managed. Of course, most of the legal work in any sale of real estate in Australia occurs during conveyancing. One of the major changes to conveyancing as we know it, is the digitalisation of the process.

After you get your head around the acronyms, it makes sense…

E-Conveyancing has been in the wings since 2010 when National e Conveyancing Development Ltd (NECDL) was formed to build the National Electronic Conveyancing System (NECS).

NECDL has now become Property Exchange Australia Ltd (PEXA). PEXA is a purpose-built platform that enables online transfer and settlement of property. Although a paper version is still available to those who need it, the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) expects that most property transactions going forward will be concluded online, “with 85 per cent of all property transactions over the next two years expected to be completed electronically” according to Amanda Lynch, CEO of REIA.

This move by the industry is not seen as a small step either, but rather a milestone in property law.

“This is the biggest reform to our industry since the introduction of the Torrens system, more than 150 years ago,” said Jeff Stevens, national president of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers.

The system will be trialled by preselected conveyancers in New South Wales and Victoria towards the end of October 2014. The national rollout will occur in 2015, with NSW and Victoria starting in February, Queensland in April, Western Australia in May and South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania later in the year.

PEXA will move several property title actions online, including new mortgages, mortgage discharges, refinancing, settlements, caveats and notices. The four major banks have already been using the platform for a few of these tasks.

The REIA acknowledges the concern over foreign investors in the local market, but believes current levels to be positive, especially as the current guidelines foster the development of new housing stock. However, the industry organisation feels that the roll-out of the new electronic system is just what is needed, in order to effectively monitor and report on foreign investment in Australia and to ensure compliance going forward.

“The last thing that the sector wants to see is unnecessary red tape around foreign investment in Australia and here is an ideal platform that is available for all property purchases, not just those involving foreign investment,” said Ms Lynch.

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