How digitalisation is getting Queenslanders into their property on time

Left: Abi Wright and Chris Ransley at Ray White Right: George Sourris and Cara Haynes, Brokers at Loan Market

The Queensland property market continues to go from strength to strength. For a third successive quarter Queensland led the country in sale settlements recording 51,458 sale settlements in the Mar-22 quarter, slightly ahead of VIC on 50,702 and eclipsing southern neighbour NSW on 48,100.

And while the market may have eased slightly from the soaring highs in recent months, the Sunshine State is still proving to be popular among homebuyers nationwide.

But what’s it like to buy property in Queensland in 2022?

Digital settlements combating ongoing challenges
The answer is that it’s both digital and easy.

As Empire Legal’s George Sourris and Abi Wright explain, amidst more than two years of significant hurdles, flexibility delivered by online processes are proving paramount for their business and clients.

“The overwhelming majority of our settlements these days take place on PEXA. Paper settlements are becoming much less common and PEXA is by far the safest option to ensure an on-time settlement, especially given the COVID-19 lockdowns and more recently the floods.

“Where settlement can take place on PEXA, any closure of physical settlement locations or delays with critical documents arriving and relying on Australia Post becomes irrelevant. We always suggest it as the safest, fastest and most secure option for our clients, with the least margin for error.”
This sentiment is echoed by Cara Haynes, Broker, Loan Market.

“In Queensland, most of our settlements are 30 days which are some of the fastest in the country. Given the snap lock downs over the past 2 years and the floods, paper settlements are no longer practical.

“With Australia Post having blown out service levels, we find even when we are down to the wire, we can still get the file booked in and settled on time.”

Getting the keys on time
Moving into a new home is an exciting milestone for many.

Handing over the keys is always a special moment for Chris Ransley from Ray White – North Stradbroke Island – but property settlements can be complicated and things can go wrong on the big day.

The entrenched shift to digital has seen this risk mitigated and buyers able to revel in the joy.
“As agents we have traditionally been out of the loop when settlement day comes around, but PEXA has streamlined the process dramatically. Now we get an email the minute settlement has occurred so that we can release keys to the buyers and congratulate the vendors and buyers in a timely manner.”

Settlement day stress no more – the buyer’s perspective
It was more than 10 years ago when Patricia Kavanagh purchased her first home.

Property settlements can be life-changing, but they’re inherently complex. It can be a seriously intimidating experience for buyers too – as Patricia recounts.

“When I bought my first apartment in Sydney, using a traditional paper settlement, the process definitely added more detail, pressure and time – and that was already quite tight with the many checks, balances and significant paperwork required.

“It all added a layer of complexity to a time when I just wanted to take the keys and head off to my new home. I recall the process of having to take time off work to head to a real estate’s office, sign papers and wait for what seemed like forever.

“I remember having to bring a cheque (which I was incredibly nervous about physically holding and literally checking every few minutes to make sure it was still there) and sit around having to complete the exchange and for various document lodgements to happen some days afterwards.”

“The other party selling the property was there too – it was quite strange to actually see the people who were selling the property! There was a reasonable amount of sitting around and waiting while cheques were brought to banks other details were locked in. It proved a bit of a muted finale to the most important transaction of my life at the time.”

The digital way

Fast forward a decade and having recently re-entered the market, Patricia shares how today’s digitally fuelled experience is combating settlement day hassles.

“I could not believe the contrast to purchasing a property today compared to my earlier experience. I booked the entire day off work on settlement day, in anticipation of me needing to be available and “manage’ things as per before.

“When settlement day came around and I had the day off, I literally just had to check my PEXA Key app for an update and see that things were in progress, then done. The ease of it all was astounding – there was no cheque, no sitting around in a real estate office and major peace of mind.”

Take your time

Buying a house can be emotionally taxing. Saving for a deposit, calculating your borrowing capacity, receiving your pre-approval, finding your dream home and then staving off the significant competition being seen in the market today – there’s a lot of weight on the shoulders of consumers.

However, with the settlement process now being streamlined, Patricia believes you can now invest your energy into the preparatory work – ensuring you can truly enjoy your special moment on the big day.

“My advice would be to take your time. I spent a year renting after moving from Queensland to New South Wales, just to get a feel for the schools, the local community in the areas we were interested in, commute time and amenities. It’s important to immerse yourself in an area before buying there and projecting how it will meet your changing needs.”

The future 

With practitioners, brokers and agents alike increasingly working together to drive Queensland’s digital property reform, in line with New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, the Empire Legal team feel the change is inevitable. 

“There is no doubt that electronic settlements are the future for the digital property ecosystem. We saw the accounting profession go digital with Xero and all of its 3PP partners, and we fully believe the same transformation is well and truly on the way in our sector.  

“It is not a matter of “if” all the parties will be collaborating digitally, but “when”. We already see the vast majority of transactions occurring this way – the sooner bankers, brokers and lawyers jump onboard, the better for all professionals, and their clients.” 

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