e-Conveyancing (or e-settlements as some call it) has been a hot topic in the property industry in recent years, and even more so since the amendment bill was passed in the State’s Upper House in June 2016 which allowed for e-Conveyancing to be introduced in South Australia on 4 July 2016.
Everyone needs to be on the same page
Currently, e-Conveyancing is not mandatory across the State, meaning it is up to individual conveyancers and clients to decide whether they are willing to elect to settle a transaction electronically.
However, a conveyancing transaction cannot be completed electronically unless all parties (both the conveyancer acting for the vendor and the conveyancer acting for the purchaser) are e-Conveyancing subscribers and are wanting to transact electronically.
This disparity, with some conveyancers wanting to settle transactions electronically and others via the traditional processes, has led to inconsistency and inefficiencies, with an overall lack of uptake of e-Conveyancing for transfer transactions across the industry. Bank to Bank refinance settlements has shown greater uptake as they are a much more simple transaction and usually don’t involve conveyancers.
We’ve welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback
As a result, The Office of the Registrar-General recently undertook a preliminary stakeholder consultation program to gather industry feedback about the future of e-Conveyancing in South Australia. We congratulate the Registrar General for taking this consultative approach.
Together with my brother and fellow Registered Conveyancer Hayden Eckermann, I had the pleasure of attending the recent half-day ‘Future of eConveyancing’ forum held by The Office of the Registrar-General on 22 August. At this industry forum, The Office of the Registrar-General proposed a range of options for further mandating e-Conveyancing, including timeframes, dealing options, and training and education strategies to the room of conveyancing industry stakeholders. As part of the dialogue and feedback process, I was also pleased to be invited to participate on the panel discussion at the forum on this important topic.
At Eckermann Conveyancers we generally support further mandating of e-Conveyancing, feeling it will result in industry clarity and certainty of process. We however think the timing and having a staged approach here is extremely important, the industry needs time to transition and mature in the e-Conveyancing space. Rushing the transition to e-Conveyancing would create a huge mess for everyone, including our clients, which we need to protect against. There needs to be careful planning on the timeline to provide the best opportunity for a successful transition to e-Conveyancing.
We’re primed and ready
Here at Eckermann Conveyancers, we are primed and ready to embrace e-Conveyancing. We are ready to invest in training and adapting our business systems and processes to transition to e-Conveyancing. We will begin to imbed these changes when there is a clear timeframe for us to follow as to when the South Australian Government will stipulate that all South Australian conveyancing transactions must be settled electronically.
As discussed at the forum, we agree with many of our counterparts in the industry, that the effectiveness and efficiency benefits of e-Conveyancing rely on the ‘network effect’, where its value to users is proportionate to the number of subscribers transacting on the platform.
We are a strong advocates of e-Conveyancing and see that it is inevitable that the industry will operate electronically in the near future.
We would like to see that a transition period of at least 12-18 months be implemented for mandated e-Conveyancing, and we have proposed this in our feedback to The Office of the Registrar-General.
We look forward to reviewing the stakeholder report from the Office of the Registrar-General when it is published. And ultimately, we look forward to news of prescribed changes to the mandatory adoption of e-Conveyancing in South Australia – something we are certain will have benefits for both our industry and consumers, with all parties benefiting from faster and more efficient processes.