The Evolution of the Settlement Process
Settlement is the final step in the sale and purchase of a property.
Settlement consists of a meeting between all parties involved in the transaction to complete the exchange of transfer documents and funds and lodgement of documentation in the Land Titles Office (aka the LTO). The purchasers Conveyancer is required to stamp the transfer with the relevant stamp duty fees and all parties check search the title before settlement begins. (check searching confirms that no other dealings have been lodged prior to settlement taking place.
Even though the order of settlement has not changed, the procedure itself has changed enormously!
In the 1970’s, photocopiers had just been introduced to the LTO and for the first time we were able to obtain photocopies of the Certificate of Title. The original Title was kept in a book consisting of 200 Titles. The book was given a Volume number and each Title a Folio number (the origin of our Volume and Folio numbering system today). New dealings were first noted in pencil and then, once checked by the LTO they were registered in ink. These old Titles were a thing of beauty with each dealing written neatly and legibly onto the Title by hand. Check searching the Title was required to make sure there were no new pencil notations on the Title which might stop settlement.
Stamping of the Transfer of property was processed at the Stamp Duties Office where responsibility for the checking of the documentation rested on the staff at the Stamp Duties Office. The Stamping process could take over an hour on a busy Friday, giving us lots of time to get to know our colleagues while we waited.
Settlements were booked in 15 minute increments and were conducted where the Title was held. I was certainly fit in those days as a morning’s settlements could consist of several trips up and down King William Street to each of the major four banks.
Once finalised we phoned the office from the nearest pay phone (no mobile phones back then!!)
The 1980’s saw the creation of a settlement room in the LTO which had moved from Victoria Square to Pirie Street. This made the settlement procedure and documentation lodgement much more convenient as all parties to the transaction met at the LTO.
Fax machines and computers had become mainstream and we were able to order our Titles in advance and then collect them from the LTO.
The 1990’s saw the introduction of mobile phone, internet and email and we became known as Conveyancers rather than Land Brokers.
With the introduction of an electronic platform “Revnet”, Transfers were now stamped in the comfort of the office with the responsibility now passing to the Conveyancer to keep all relevant documentation and pay the correct duty. No more time wasted in the Stamp Duties line.
Copies of Titles and check searches were now available online removing the need for us to check search the title at the LTO.
The original Title book became a thing of the past and all new Titles were created electronically, and old Titles gradually converted to computerised versions. The registered proprietor, however, was still issued with a paper Title deed as evidence of ownership.
By the 2000’s the LTO had moved to Grenfell Street and the major banks had begun using settlement agents. This meant longer waiting lines in the settlement room because the settlement agent represented several different banks.
PEXA (Property Exchange Australia) was introduced in SA in 2016 allowing for settlements to be conducted electronically. The electronic settlement process consists of us ‘inviting’ all parties to the electronic workspace. The transfer is created and checked for correctness electronically before settlement can proceed. All communication is conducted via online ‘Conversations’ between the parties meaning no more long waits on hold to the bank!
Once all financial information is entered and balanced and electronic documents signed by all parties the workspace is ready for settlement. PEXA settlements take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Generally, the vendor has access to their funds on the day of settlement rather than having to wait for bank cheques to clear in their account. Notation of new ownership and other documentation in the LTO is now immediate.
At this point in time settlements are conducted both in paper format (in the settlement room) and electronically, but the time is fast approaching when electronic settlements will be our only means of settling. Not everyone in our industry is happy with the Introduction of electronic settlements, but as you can see, our industry has constantly changed and evolved over the past 45 years.
Change is inevitable.
Here at Tuckfields we have enthusiastically embraced the new PEXA process. We are keen to learn all we can about electronic settlements so that when the process does become compulsory, we will be able to offer the same professional and proficient service to our clients as we always have!
“I feel greatly privileged to have been a part of the many changes during my working life and I am very excited to be a part of one of the biggest changes in our history since the creation of the Torrens Title system in 1858”
Have a question or require more info about the Settlement Process?
Contact our office on: (08) 8344 3448.
Tuckfield Conveyancing, Adelaide’s Property Settlement, Residential and Commercial Conveyancing specialists!
Article written by Lesley Kiss
Please note that the information contained in this article is of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. Tuckfield Agent Solutions does not take responsibility for any errors or omissions obtained from the use of this information.