The race to become Australia’s “eBay of real estate” is heating up, with a major law firm developing a system they believe will lead to a revolutionising of how auctions and property sale agreements are conducted.

Developed in conjunction with DocuSign, law firm Colin Biggers & Paisley (CBP) believes the e-contract system that eliminates the need for paper contracts or for people to even have to physically attend auctions could become the accepted way of conducting property sales with the year.

CBP property partner Mark Morgan said the e-contract system was developed after the law firm was required to produce almost a quarter of a million pages to facilitate the sale of some apartment developments.

“We do a lot of conveyancing for developments with that might have 300 units in them and putting together the contracts for all those units so they meet government requirements means we were producing something like 240,000 pages per development which is appalling,” Morgan said.

“When we first looked into it we thought it wouldn’t work because the e-contracts would be signed without a witness, but after some more research we discovered that property contracts don’t need to be witnessed, so we decided to develop the system,” he said.

Colin Biggers & Paisley property law partner, Mark Morgan (right) helps buyer Jerome Tiratira sign an e-contract

With the e-contract system eliminating the need for physical contracts that have to be mailed, couriered or faxed between vendors and purchasers, Morgan said the system streamlines the sale process.

“Unlike paper contracts, legally binding property e-contracts can be signed anywhere, any time and on any internet device,” he said.

“The real area we think the system will improve is that it will open up people’s ability to participate in auctions, they’ll be able to use the system to actually bid on properties, so if they want to buy in Sydney but they’re in Melbourne they can do so and then if they win they just sign the e-contract and it’s all done.”

The system was unveiled last weekend for the auctions of 31 residential lots in the Sydney suburb of Gledswood Hills and Morgan said the response showed people are ready to adapt to the new system.

“We wanted to have a small roll out of the system first to see that it worked and it went perfectly.

“We thought there might be a few people apprehensive about using it, but not one person showed any concern or reluctance about it and I think it shows just how accustomed people are to using the internet for this sort of thing.

“I really think that in the next 12 months this system is really going to become the norm for property sales.”