A few years ago, my credit card details were used fraudulently. The thief had a night at the movies and a pleasant meal, unwittingly on me. Fortunately, this wasn’t a problem. The credit card provider reissued a new card and removed the unauthorised transactions from my account. Easy.

In the aftermath of an incident where a conveyancer’s email was compromised, PEXA, Australia’s online lodgement and settlement platform lost no time bolstering its security. Following the incident, PEXA moved quickly on a proactive ongoing prevention plan. Compassionate sympathy was shown to the victims and a lot more people now know about PEXA than before.

What is PEXA?

PEXA (Property Exchange Australia) is Australia’s online property exchange network. It assists members – such as lawyers, conveyancers and financial institutions – to lodge documents with Land Registries and complete financial settlements electronically.

PEXA’s shareholders include four state governments and the big banks. So, you would be hard pressed to find a group more experienced in dealing with big reputational problems. 

Despite this, a group of conveyancers are petitioning for a delay to the PEXA rollout - attempting to postpone the inevitable. What’s surprising is not the attempt at delay but that routine legal tasks such as conveyancing have taken so long to embrace the efficiency and low cost of digital.

Online conveyancing reduces the number of processes and the paperwork required with manual conveyancing transactions. PEXA refers to its processes using that old ‘90’s’ signal of modernity “e-conveyancing”. It ensures a faster and more convenient conveyancing process. No more face-to-face meetings with cheque and document exchanges.

Commercial Property is at the forefront of this PEXA transformation. A commercial property worth $22.5 million was settled via PEXA’s online platform. KCL Law’s Principal Lawyer, Mark Yaskewych commented on the transaction process, “PEXA’s online platform definitely makes settlements more efficient, as the entire process is done online which reduces the time spent making telephone calls and engaging with settlement agents.”

The PEXA website has other value-add features. Buyers and sellers can search PEXA’s network of conveyancers and lawyers to find the right conveyancing professional to help them through to settlement.

Once chosen, the conveyancer can then use PEXA to liaise with the property buyer or seller’s bank, lodge documents and transfer funds to ensure a fast and smooth settlement – all online.

Buyers and sellers who use online conveyancing can also take advantage of PEXA’s SettleMe application. The online tool helps with the finer points of settlement that allows buyers and sellers to track the process in real-time. Features include a personalised settlement checklist and alerts via SMS or email.

Beefed Up Online Security

Cyber-security is a world-wide focus and PEXA is firmly committed to the security of its customer network, including their clients.

PEXA is assisting the conveyancers and lawyers who use the platform to aid in their obligations in upholding the highest possible professional and security standards by:

  • Creating new users in an “inactive” mode, meaning only PEXA can activate all new users, once confirming the new user with their members; 
  • time stamps to see when the PEXA workspace was last updated; and
  • Introducing an additional verification layer upon sign-in.

PEXA goes on to say that following “an incident reported to PEXA on 31 May”, it is speeding up its existing plans to introduce multi-factor verification within the next few weeks.

Benefits for Commercial Real Estate Agents

According to Deloitte’s report on the Impact of e-Conveyancing on the conveyancing industry, the industry is likely to realise around $89 million per annum in net benefits from a 100% digital lodgement and settlement process in 2021-22.

Currently, PEXA sees four benefits for the commercial real estate industry.

Quick Access to the money

Agents’ commissions are paid as cleared funds out of the financial settlement as a direct disbursement.

Instant Notifications

PEXA can notify agents instantly once settlement has occurred, providing an easy and effective solution for receiving settlement confirmation.

Drive Customer Satisfaction

Improve the buyers’ and sellers’ property exchange experience. With online settlement, buyers and sellers will have greater certainty that their settlement will occur as scheduled.

Digital Transformation

 e-Conveyancing is a natural extension of the technologies employed in commercial property industry to meet customer demand for digitally driven services.

Rollout Timetable

PEXA has already implemented a number of conveyancing transaction types on its system. Some of which have been made mandatory by state governments. For example, standalone mortgages for commercial property in VIC, NSW, SA and WA.

Furthermore, standalone transfers are now required to be completed online in NSW, VIC and WA with all combinations of transfer transactions in PEXA moving fully online in VIC and WA by the end of the year.