As an industry we are soon approaching the next in a series of milestones in the transition to e-Conveyancing, with all mainstream transactions in NSW required to be lodged electronically from 1 July.
As we’ve seen in both Victoria and Western Australia, the NSW 1 July implementation date will likely pass without fanfare. Coupled with a well-managed and prudently staged roll-out by the NSW Registrar-General, your early adoption of the platform puts you in good stead for a seamless switch.
We shouldn’t underestimate the significance of this change. Completing property transactions with wads of paper has been ‘just the way things are done’, dating all the way back to the inception of the Torrens System and beyond. As a result, I’m sure many of us thought that the concept of bringing property settlements into the digital age for a long time largely theoretical.
In reality, digital property settlements have been the preferred channel for a while now. In NSW, you’re already completing 75% of all land lodgements electronically each month, making 1 July just another day on your journey.
Reflecting back to 2011 when I first met Alan West, the former CEO of AIC NSW, I recall his passion and intimate knowledge of the conveyancing profession and his generosity in getting me up to speed on previous attempts to bring e-Conveyancing to life. In Alan’s words, there’d been a few “throws at the stumps” without anything really hitting. At that stage, PEXA was known as NECDL and I was the CEO of a five-person company with no funding, supported by a laser jet printer and not much else. If it wasn’t for the incredible collaboration between jurisdictions, industry bodies, those early pioneering lawyers and conveyancers and the banks, we would very likely still be dealing in paper.
It’s been four and a half years since the very first four-party transfer transaction occurred; a world first if you like, right here in NSW. NSW was also the first State to pass e-Conveyancing legislation, the first to provide PEXA with a licence to operate its platform and, importantly, it was two AICNSW members that participated in that very first transaction – Paul Denny and Craig Radford of Paul Denny Conveyancing and Carolyn and Bob Booth of Smart Choice Conveyancing. The PEXA team remain forever grateful to them for the faith they placed in us, and to the rest of you for the support and feedback you’ve provided over the following years.
I vividly recall the dozens of eyes we had hyper-caring that first transaction with a live line into the Land Registry, Revenue Office and the Reserve Bank of Australia for good measure. This was a pivotal moment – closer to a moon landing in our eyes – and it felt every bit as significant. Honestly, the only real clear heads were those of Craig Radford and Carolyn Booth. For us it was a first and the culmination of years of development and consultation, while for Craig and Carolyn it was merely another transfer – one of the many thousands they have been responsible for over their careers.
It may sound funny now, but there was a part of me that expected fireworks to launch and bells to ring. It was in fact spectacularly mediocre and exactly how it should be; reliable, stable and secure.
Together, we’ve come a long way. Transfers largely register near instantaneously and it’s common for your vendors to have access to cleared funds within an hour of settlement – often faster.
As you all know, it hasn’t been perfect. We’ve been learning alongside you, developing new functionality based on your feedback and ultimately committing to innovation and the continuous evolution of the platform.
Over the past 12 months alone, you’ve helped us introduce new features such as our PEXA Plus dashboard, allowing you full visibility and prioritisation of tasks. Walk-Thru came to life, guiding you step-by-step through those first transactions, and we introduced new capability into our Support Centre, meaning you get access to help much faster.
These are just the beginnings of what we hope will be a long and rich partnership with you. Hearing our members share their experiences in helping others through their first transactions is a great source of joy. In digitising lodgement and settlement, we wanted to preserve that shared sense of connectivity; to bring together a collaborative network of financial institutions, lawyers and conveyancers as we set about enhancing the property settlement experience.
A 2018 KPMG analysis into the benefits of e-Conveyancing commissioned by the NSW Office of the Registrar General found that the electronic platform not only reduces the potential risks associated with human error during a conveyancing transaction, but also delivers time and cost savings. From our experience, we’ve seen that these benefits can only truly be realised once the industry removes dual-processing and switches to a fully digital process. That moment has very nearly arrived for NSW.
With more than 150 financial institutions and 8000 legal and conveyancing firms available across the network, we have all played a role in delivering an improved consumer outcome. But the job’s not done. We stay focused on continuously improving the platform and on delivering new tools and features, underpinned by the most comprehensive of security postures. In short, we want to create a platform that you trust intrinsically, freeing you up to do what you do best – adding value to your clients.
As for 1 July, we have a full complement of support staff and PEXA Direct Specialists on board along with training programs, online support and our community forum where you can seek guidance from both PEXA and your peers. If you do need help, please reach out.
With the majority of all property transactions in NSW already being completed electronically, you’re in the best possible shape for a seamless transition, and we’re here with you every step of the way.