You may have heard of the term electronic conveyancing or e-conveyancing before but perhaps don’t really understand how it affects you. In this article, we’ll explain what PEXA, e-conveyancing and electronic settlements are and how they work in Victoria.

So, what is e-conveyancing?

E-conveyancing means that you can sell or buy a property completely online. In the past, a lot of paper documents needed to be signed and transferred between law firms, banks, the State Revenue Office (SRO) and the Land Titles Office on the day that a property was bought or sold. Cheques had to be physically handed over and people needed to co-ordinate times in their diary to make sure that a property settled on time. The rushing about was stressful for everyone involved.

With online conveyancing, all the forms, titles and payments are done online at the same time.

Why is e-conveyancing better?

Conveyancing online makes the process of buying and selling property in Victoria easier. Some of the benefits include:

Digital settlements are less likely to be delayed because everything happens automatically.
You can see your payout figures from the bank online.
Once the money has been transferred, you should be able to access it almost straight away.
With all the ‘paperwork’ completed online it’s more environmentally friendly.

How does online conveyancing work?

E-conveyancing can only happen through an Electronic Lodgement Network Operator (ELNO). PEXA is the only registered ELNO in Australia.

PEXA is a company that has the software to complete many elements of online conveyancing. Any law firm or conveyancer who wants to do e-conveyancing must register with PEXA. We are registered, which means we are able to complete the sale or purchase of your property online.

PEXA links with your bank, so you can pay or receive money for property online as well. We can hold this money in trust for you or you can use it to pay for another property settlement. In Victoria, the contract of sale for a property can also be signed electronically now and the SRO has recently replaced many of its paper forms that you need to transfer property titles with digital forms. These can be signed digitally and linked to PEXA too, which means conveyancing in Victoria is truly digital now.

Through PEXA, we can do many transactions for you including:

Transfers: We can lodge and settle transfers of title. This needs to be done whenever the person who owns a property changes, and can include removing or putting your bank on the title if your property is mortgaged.

Simultaneous settlement: If you want to use the money from the sale of one property to purchase another house, you may want to do this all at the same time. This can be done electronically, making it quicker and easier without any cheques physically changing hands.
Sequential settlements: Similar to a simultaneous settlement, this is when you are using the money from the sale of your property to purchase another property on the same day.

Caveats: A caveat is like a note placed on a property title letting other people know that you have an interest in the land. For example, if you’ve signed a contract to buy a property you can put a caveat on it. The caveat will need to be removed when the title transfers to you or if you do not purchase the property for some reason.
Priority notices: Like a caveat, these are another way to protect your interest in a property. Priority notices are only able to be completed online.
Survivorship applications: If you own a property with someone else as joint tenants and one of you passes away the other will become the only owner of the property. If that happens, a survivorship application needs to be completed so that the deceased owner’s name can be removed from the title of the property.
Encumbrances: An encumbrance means that you have a restriction over how you can use your property. In South Australia, these can be added or removed from titles electronically using PEXA.

Can e-conveyancing be used for large transactions like apartment blocks and land subdivisions?

Property developers can also take advantage of many of the benefits of online conveyancing. PEXA does make it easy to transfer multiple titles at the same time. However, we will still need to fill out separate forms for each property for the SRO.

Do I need to do anything to be able to use e-conveyancing?

Before we can use PEXA, the SRO software or other digital tools to complete your conveyancing we need you to sign an authorisation form and show us proof of your identity, like your passport or other documents. We may need to prove to PEXA, the SRO and other people that we have completed this verification of your identity.

Once this has been done we can electronically sign most documents on your behalf, this means you won’t need to sign paper documents to complete your transaction. You may need to sign some documents digitally. To do this you will receive an email that shows you a copy of a form, to accept the form you will need to tick a box online or decline the form if it’s incorrect.

Do I have to pay anything for e-conveyancing?

Like any other service, there are costs associated with using e-conveyancing. We are required to pay PEXA fees for each transaction we use them for and we will pass these fees onto you, along with any title office fees that are charged.  .

Can I still transfer property using paper?

The entire process of transferring property will soon be electronic in Victoria. By the end of 2018, the majority of transactions will need to be completed online, and by 1 August 2019 all property transfer transactions will be digital.

This means that you won’t even have paper titles for properties anymore. Once a paper title has been converted to an electronic title, the paper title must be destroyed.

You can still print out documents from the digital system for your records if you need. Just ask us and we will be able to do this for you.

Online conveyancing is here to stay. It makes the process of buying, selling and transferring property much easier and quicker.

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