Full service commercial law firm HopgoodGanim and property developer the Lennium Group recently completed their first paperless real estate settlement as a combined industry team. Both parties believe the landmark move will help drive an overhaul of the time-consuming paper-based method for real estate settlements.
“HopgoodGanim has just completed the initial round of settlements for the Lennium Group’s latest townhouse development at Cannon Hill—‘Wattle Grove’, five kilometres east of Brisbane,” said Martin Kingston, chief operating officer at HopgoodGanim.
“Thanks to the new Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) platform, we were able to enter all transactions details ahead of time and see settlement complete online without the need to have a physical settlement. Banking and titles office lodgement are all handled within the PEXA platform.”
Currently, many home sales in Queensland are completed using a 160-year-old method that relies on exchanging bulky paper documents and cheques. Digital-savvy lawyers acting for property consumers have long been frustrated with the cumbersome manual method. Aside from being time-consuming, the manual method incurs hefty postal, courier, cheque, and settlement agent expenses.
This is all expected to change if the Queensland government follows the lead established by the Victorian, New South Wales, Western Australian, and South Australian governments. These states have all announced deadlines to modernise property exchange.
Kingston hopes the QLD government sets its own deadlines to hasten digital property settlement, thus removing one of the most stressful experiences from the property buying and selling chain.
“Queensland needs to keep pace with the rest of the country. If we don’t, our real estate sector may come off second-best,” he said. “We’re calling on the government to drive the solution. Queensland has had electronic titles since the 1990s and online stamping for years.”
Kingston also highlighted the numerous cost benefits and efficiencies offered by digital property settlements.
“The digital way means that we can predict when settlement will occur and seamlessly and quickly bank funds on behalf of our end customers,” he said. “With PEXA’s platform we can settle anytime – anywhere. Our developer clients can bank funds promptly after settlement and fund their next project. No more waiting days for cheques to clear and settlement times blowing out due to avoidable errors.”
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