By Claire Carrucan (Senior Associate) and David Krolikowski (Director)
Unless you’re been living under a rock (or you’re unlucky enough not to practice in property law), the terms PEXA and e-conveyancing should be familiar to you. E-conveyancing is possibly the biggest shake up to conveyancing practice since the Torrens title system was introduced, and time is ticking on seemingly archaic paper transactions.
So why won’t anyone settle a transaction electronically?
Getting on board
In the last 12 months the commercial property team at KHQ have embraced this new technology (with albeit nervous excitement). We have had endless discussions about how PEXA will work in practice. Where do settlement monies go? Will clients embrace this change? What if, heaven forbid, the settlement falls through?
We have obtained VOIs and Client Authorisations; our shiny white USBs with our individual digital signatures are ready and raring to go. We have dabbled in the lodgement of caveats and mortgages. Even familiarised ourselves with the “Dashboard”, created a “Workspace” and tried out key features of PEXA’s online settlement platform. Indeed these terms are no longer foreign to us either!
We have put ourselves on the line to ask our fellow practitioners, would you be willing to settle this transaction electronically? Somewhat frustratingly however, the answer to date, has generally been a resounding “no”. As recently as last week, I asked the same question of a mortgagee (one of the big four banks – with a vested interest in PEXA) and was also met with an immediate no. So why the resistance?
Willingness to change
I’m willing to admit that I was sceptical of e-conveyancing in its infancy. Scared, like many property lawyers, to contemplate the “what ifs” in a tried and true system, process driven by years and years of property transactions. But I attended a few roadshows and had some training with PEXA. Those experiences have been positive and I, for one, am definitely on the PEXA bandwagon.
But as the saying goes, it takes two to tango – or in the conveyancing context often three or four (or more – creating a somewhat complex tango). PEXA boasts that the number of members “engaged in the network” is 5,443. So where are those 5,442 other members and why haven’t I come across one who is willing to settle electronically?
If the entire property industry is not yet on board, and willing to utilise the technology, how long is the transition to a 100% digital future going to take? Only time will tell.
Do you agree? What has been your experience with PEXA? Contact me with any questions or comments on your experience, or join the conversation on our LinkedIn page.