Without a doubt the mandatory implementation of an electronic conveyancing system in Victoria is the biggest change that conveyancers and property lawyers have had to deal with in a decade.
The days of having to lock your paper Certificate of Title securely in your safe are pretty much gone with the transition to electronic conveyancing. Not without its hiccups, some law firms have been hesitant to embrace the change and lacked confidence in the new system but Caroline Grainger, principal lawyer at Grainger Legal and Casa Conveyancing says that her firm embraced the system immediately and are now very comfortable undertaking 100% digital transactions. ‘When we launched our law firm in 2017, we looked for technologies that would make property settlements more efficient for our clients. We researched the PEXA system and noted that transacting property settlements online provided vendors with their funds quicker and buyers were able to get their names on the title almost immediately. We also noted that an electronic system reduced the likelihood of human error.’
Kim Williams, licenced conveyancer at Casa Conveyancing agrees. ‘I see a huge benefit to our clients in the e-conveyancing system. The opportunity to prepare for settlement online with documents checked and ready early means that there is less risk that settlement will be delayed. It also makes settlement easier to arrange as there is no longer the need for each representative to have a physical presence at an office to handover documents or cheques.’
But the use of electronic systems brings with it some inevitable risks. Joanne Santos, business manager at Casa Conveyancing notes there has been some recent cases in the news where emails were hacked, a vendor’s bank details altered and fund stolen. ‘It is imperative that all firms have strict cyber security policies and that their staff adhere to these policies’. She says simple things can be done to ensure that details remain safe such as obtaining written, signed instructions from clients and confirming bank account details verbally with a client. ‘It may cause some slight irritation to clients to be confirming account details with us over the phone, but it would cause them a lot more irritation if their funds were stolen by hackers’. She notes that most risks have been minimised by the introduction of a PEXA Residential Seller Guarantee, which provides protection to sellers in the event of fraud and the recent launch of an App, ‘PEXA Key’ which provides a secure method of communicating bank details.
Despite the efficiency that e-conveyancing brings to a property transfer, there are things that still need to be done to ensure a smooth transaction. Kim says: ‘The usual elements of acting in a property settlement remain the same, that is, listening to and understanding a client’s needs and being ready and available to answer their questions or provide progress reports.’ She adds: ‘Organisation is key. Electronic or otherwise, nothing beats early preparation and good organisation in a conveyancing transaction’.
Casa Conveyancing is the conveyancing division of Grainger Legal. It offers free initial consultations regarding property sales and purchases including contract reviews and preparation of Section 32 statements. Telephone the team on (03) 5407 0162 or email firstname.lastname@example.org