E-Conveyancing, a New Conveyancing Approach & New Client Verification Requirements

If you are in the process of buying or selling a property, you may have heard of a new conveyancing approach using electronic conveyancing. But what exactly does that mean for you?

Electronic conveyancing or e-conveyancing is a high-tech digital revolution that will take you through the sale or purchase of a property automatically, without the need of a qualified conveyancer, which means that it is not nearly as daunting or confusing as it may sound.

Until recently, conveyancers did most of their work the old-fashioned way, using pen and paper. E-conveyancing brings that process into the 20th century by:

– Allowing all parties to use an electronic interface to view and complete documents in a real-estate transaction.
– Allowing all financial transactions to be completed on a pre-determined date. This includes settlement payments to any parties entitled to receive them and the payment of fees and taxes such as stamp duty.
– Allowing legal documents to be filed and registered electronically as necessary.

While this may seem to be a new approach, e-conveyancing has actually been around since about 2005, and went live in NSW in October 2013. The first release provided the necessary functionality for financial institutions to lodge and discharge mortgages electronically. Recently, NSW has moved into the second release, which expands the functions available to include things like settling financial transactions and the electronic filing of caveats and transfers of land.

Property Exchange Australia Limited (PEXA), a company whose main stakeholders include governments from NSW, WA, VIC and QLD, as well as some of the largest financial institutions in Australia, is running the entire implementation of e-conveyancing.

Client Verification Requirements

Obviously, it is extremely important that anyone buying or selling a property can provide adequate identification. This has become more important recently as identity fraud is on the rise across Australia.

In response to some incidents regarding identity fraud and fraudulent real estate transactions, and to try and slow the increase in scams and identity fraud, NSW Fair Trading recently released the Real Estate Fraud Prevention Guidelines.

These guidelines help those in the real estate industry verify the identity of clients and include common sense procedures and practices, a list of warning signs and what to do if you suspect suspicious activity.

To comply with these guidelines agents must confirm the identity of a client by verifying certain documentation such as:

– An original photo ID and an original or certified copy of a secondary ID without a photo
– Verify the legal ownership of a property if the client is selling

The guidelines also specifies that these ID checks must be made in a face-to-face interview and the agent must physically see the documents. A checklist should be completed and kept in the client’s file for further inspection if necessary.

A Proof of Identity Checklist for Vendors is included in the guidelines and gives a list of all documents that can be used as proof of identity.