Electronic transactions on the horizon for NSW

The NSW state government has revealed plans to allow the electronic transaction and settlement of land later this year, but there is still a way to go.

Speaking with Real Estate Business, a spokesperson from Land and Property Information (LPI), a division of the Department of Finance and Services, said electronic transactions are planned for September this year with an amendment to The Electronic Conveyancing Act 2012.

“Electronic conveyancing removes many of the manual processes involved in conveyancing, particularly when it comes to preparing documents, meetings to settle and exchange funds and the lodgement of documents with the Registrar General for registration," the spokesperson explained.

“The next major phase of national electronic conveyancing in NSW will begin this September with the planned expansion to include the capability to conduct transfers of land, with the related financial settlement of the transaction also occurring electronically, and caveats.”

The news comes a week after the South Australian government approved a similar amendment to the Electronic Transactions Act, which allows agents to conduct paperless transactions.

However, CEO of the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW) Tim McKibbin said that while he welcomes the news, there is still room for improvement.

“Having the ability to sign transfer documents is excellent from LPI, and we commend them on their effort to bring the industry into the new age of technology. However, there is a way to go, but we’re on the journey,” he said.

Mr McKibbin said section 55 of the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act was the problematic piece of legislation that needed to be amended.

“A licensee is not entitled to any commission or expenses … unless the services were performed pursuant to an agreement in writing (an "agency agreement") signed by or on behalf of the person, and the licensee,” it reads.

Further in the section, the serving of the documents has remained outdated as well.

“Without limiting the means by which a copy of the agency agreement may be served on a person, it may be served by means of facsimile transmission or by such other means as the regulations may allow.”

However, the regulations have not been updated to allow electronic transmission.

“Fax hasn’t been utilised as an effective means of communication for more than a decade,” he said.

“We have raised our concerns on a number of occasions with the government and the Office of Fair Trading.”

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