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All NSW Land Transactions to be electronic in 2021 – Another step forward for digital property dealings

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Attwood Marshall Lawyers Licenced Conveyancer and Law Graduate, Rachel Godden, provides an update on New South Wales’ progress in making all land transactions 100% electronic.

New bill released to make land transactions 100% electronic

The NSW government has released a draft bill for the purpose of making all land transactions in New South Wales completely electronic, and to move away from paper-based processes. The bill is expected to commence in August 2021. This will allow the industry time to work through the required system and process changes necessary to enable the reforms in the Bill to successfully be rolled out. The key change to the legislation is the abolition of certificates of title.

The Bill proposes to:

  • Remove the words ‘certificate of title’ wherever they appear in legislation.
  • Remove the concept of ‘Control of the Right to Deal’, otherwise known as ‘eCTs’. On commencement of the Act, first registered ADI mortgagees will no longer be recorded as holding ‘Control of the Right to Deal’ and all current notifications will be cancelled.
  • Introduce a new requirement for an information notice to be issued to the lodging party.
  • Remove barriers that prevents instruments being lodged electronically directly to the Registrar General. This change opens up the possibility of other documents, such as Powers of Attorney and Deeds, to be lodged electronically to the Registrar General in the future if they cannot be lodged through an Electronic Network Operator, such as PEXA or Sympli.
  • Update the language used to make it technology neutral.

How New South Wales Land Registry Services are evolving their digital strategy

During the COVID-19 restrictions, the NSW Land Registry Services removed the requirement for having to lodge documents over the counter. They introduced a residual document service, where it allowed documents to be lodged through PEXA.

Once a document is converted to an electronic lodgement, the client no longer has to physically sign the document and documents are no longer required to be posted for lodgement. This removes the risk of the documents going astray.

In December 2020, the Registrar General gave notice period that a further 29 dealings can be lodged electronically. From 22 March 2021, these documents can no longer lodge paper dealings for registration.

To view a complete list of the new dealings which must be lodged electronically from 22 March 2021, click here.

What does this mean for the property industry?

No more searching for Certificates of Title!

The requirement for financial institutions to hold an original certificate of title was abolished 2 years ago. Clients who have no registered mortgage are still required to produce the certificate of title to their solicitor.

The problem some clients are faced with is remembering where the certificate of title is held. It can be a time consuming and difficult process to try to locate the document. If the certificate of title is issued prior to 2004 and does not have an authentication code, then this needs to be sent to land titles for conversion into an electronic title.

With the abolishment of certificate of titles producing the original will no longer be required.

Reduced wait times when dealing with deceased estates

Once the Grant of Probate has been received, the property must be transferred into the Trustee’s name. It is only once the title has been registered that notice can be given to the purchaser and settlement can proceed. However, the process has been simplified! The documents can be lodged together with a Transfer in the same workspace, which allows for a quicker settlement.

NSW Conveyancing completely digital with PEXA

NSW has fully embraced electronic conveyancing and has been digital since 2013. All law firms and licenced conveyancers must be PEXA certified or use a PEXA agent to act in any transfers of property. This has transformed the logistics of physical settlements, the exchange of bank cheques, and physical lodgement of transfers and title deeds at the titles office. PEXA settlements happen digitally after all sign off and cleared funds are immediately paid to the nominated bank accounts – no need to wait 3 working days for ‘bank cheques’ to clear or having to attend a settlement in the city with a cast of thousands.

PEXA settlements are quicker, safer, and less costly.

What about Queensland?

QLD has lagged behind in embracing electronic conveyancing. The QLD Law Society has been slow to adopt the process and many law firms are not PEXA accredited, although the uptake did increase substantially after COVID-19, as physical settlements were not allowed.

We encourage all real estate agents to check if the lawyers acting for the parties to a contract are PEXA accredited firms and inform them of the benefits of using the PEXA process. This will ensure a more orderly settlement of the sale and immediate payment of cleared funds on the day of settlement (including any balance commission that may be payable to the Agent!).

How can Attwood Marshall Lawyers help?

Attwood Marshall Lawyers is an experienced electronic conveyancing firm. We are positioned right on the QLD-NSW border and with offices at Coolangatta and Kingscliff, our team can assist buyers with residential homes and investment properties in both states. We also have offices in Brisbane and the Robina Town Centre. Our experienced conveyancing team ensure new home buyers and property investors receive the most professional property law services when making their purchase. Our team will ensure a smooth and seamless property transaction, and that settlement happens on time.

Our Robina Town Centre Office is open on Thursday evenings until 9pm QLD time and Saturday mornings from 9am to 12noon. Call us anytime!

To avoid risk or unnecessary delays get the right legal advice by contacting our 24/7 phoneline on 1800 621 071 or Jess KimptonProperty and Commercial Department Manager, on direct line 07 5506 8214, mobile 0432 857 300 or email jkimpton@attwoodmarshall.com.au

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