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Time for NSW Govt to meet digital expectations: REINSW

13 February 2014

As technology continues to become more and more integral to every aspect of agents’ day-to-day working lives, REINSW has renewed its calls for the NSW Government to ensure that legislation governing the real estate industry keeps pace with the times.

According to REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin, South Australia is leading the way in this area. Late last month, the SA Government passed amendments to the Electronic Transactions Act that will allow agents to complete and finalise documents electronically.

“The SA Government is to be congratulated for being the first state to accomplish this and bring agents into the 21st century,” Mr McKibbin said.

“Paperless transactions have been on our radar for a long time, and we have raised the issue yet again with the NSW Government and NSW Fair Trading on the back of the SA Government passing these amendments.

“You only have to look at the way we communicate with each other every day to see that this change is necessary,” he said.

Electronic conveyancing

Last week the NSW Government announced plans to allow the electronic transaction and conveyancing of land. A spokesperson from Land & Property Information said that electronic transactions are planned for September this year with an amendment to the Electronic Conveyancing Act.

“This is a good step forward. The ability to electronically sign transfer documents is excellent, however there is still more to be done,” Mr McKibbin said.

“In this area, the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 and the Regulations are relics of times gone by.

“The Act is problematic and needs to be amended,” explained Mr McKibbin.

“The section states that a licensee is not entitled to any commission or expenses unless the services were performed pursuant to an agreement in writing (i.e. an agency agreement) and signed by or on behalf of the person, for whom the licensee acts as agent and the licensee itself.

“The section goes on to refer to the service of the agency agreement by ‘facsimile transmissions or by such other means that the regulations may allow’. However, the regulations have not been updated to allow for electronic transmissions.

“The legislation clearly does not accommodate the technology that is available and utilised by agents today, and needs to be amended so that it is relevant to the way business is now conducted.

“In this day and age, electronic signatures and the ability to complete and finalise documents electronically is a must,” he said.

Consumer expectations

Not only will electronic signatures and transactions allow agents to work seamlessly with the technology they already use every day, but it matches consumer expectations on efficiency.

“Consumers are already familiar with signing electronically, and it is faster and more convenient and efficient for all involved,” Mr McKibbin said.

“We will continue to lobby the Government and NSW Fair Trading on this issue.

“The technology is already here. It’s just a case of being able to use it.”