Real estate transactions often involve a large volume of paperwork. Contracts alone can already have hundreds of pages and each contract needs to be provided in two copies. This often results in a high cost of printing, scanning, filing and archiving of documents.
Fortunately, paperwork today can be avoided by homebuyers and investors through electronic conveyancing. Thanks to digital technology, it’s now possible to complete certain real estate documents with less paper.
Electronic conveyancing refers to real estate conveyancing done through an electronic platform specifically provided by the Property Exchange Australia Limited (PEXA). In this type of transaction, the parties involved (homebuyers and investors or their representatives, practitioners or conveyancers and financiers) transact in an electronic workspace.
It should be noted, however, that electronic conveyancing only covers the preparation and execution of settlement and registration of property documents and not the entire conveyancing process.
A very important part of electronic conveyancing is the client authorisation. A client needs to issue a written authorisation first to allow a practitioner or conveyancer to use the electronic platform. A prescribed form is available for this purpose.
Through this client authorisation document, the client allows his conveyancer to sign documents on his or her behalf. Other tasks the client can authorise are the lodgment of documents covering the transfer for registration, the financial settlement of the conveyance and other tasks needed to complete the transaction.
A client’s signature, on the other hand, is done digitally through the use of a digital certificate. This certificate will have to be secured by a legal practitioner who should be appointed first by a subscriber administrator before he or she can sign electronic documents on behalf of his client.
Effective December last year, clients who opt for electronic conveyancing will no longer sign the Land Titles Office forms. The forms will instead be signed by the client’s conveyancer for faster processing of documents. The only document that a client will need to provide for the transaction is the client authorisation.
This move by the National Electronic Conveyancing Office to develop a national online conveyancing system is considered very important in Australia. This is because almost all Australians engage in property transactions, both residential and commercial, at some point in their lives. With the national electronic conveyancing system (NECS) in place, conveyancers, legal practitioners, financial institutions, mortgage processors and other players involved in the process of conveyancing will have access to the NECS online with an electronic workspace provided for each property transaction.