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The digitisation of real estate

Recently the Real Estate Institute of Queensland attracted national headlines when it announced the launch of what it claims is the world’s first fully digitised residential tenancy agreements.

Having partnered with software firm Igloo, the peak industry body was heralding the benefits of its new generation tenancy agreement product, which will allow all parties involved to be able to view the contract at any time online.

REIQ General Manager Josh Callaghan noted the product carried benefits for all parties involved in the agreement by providing “more transparency” and enabling new functions that can benefit all parties.

“By executing as a smart contract, we’re also able to build out the functionality to handle payments of bond and rent, plus facilitate other activities related to the property such as routine inspections and maintenance,” Callaghan noted.

But while the move is significant, it is just part of a growing number of real estate transactions going digital.

For some time now emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and virtual reality have been helping to make real estate agent’s lives easier by the growing proliferation of what is commonly referred to as proptech.

Now finally it is vendors and buyers to benefit from the industry going paperless.

In 2011 and 2012, all six States and the Northern Territory signed an intergovernmental agreement for developing, implementing and managing the regulatory framework for national eConveyancing, including the legislation to support national eConveyancing, referred to as the ECNL.

To date five states have commenced eConveyancing; three of these have now mandated its use for all mainstream transactions, one has mandated for some transactions and another has not proposed any mandating.

Tasmania and the Northern Territory have yet to commence eConveyancing and the Australian Capital Territory is not yet a signatory to the IGA.

The agreement is currently being reviewed with submissions invited on ways to improve the framework to ensure it is fit for purpose for the future.

While the degree of digital integration varies from state to state, it is not just conveyancing where the industry is being digitally reformed.

In Victoria, technology company InfoTrack has signed an agreement with the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) to licence its Contract of Sale of Real Estate, meaning that from wherever you are, vendors and purchasers can now order, compile, edit and sign their Section 32 vendor’s statement and LIV Contract of Sale of Real Estate in Victoria completely electronically.

While digital real estate business Diakrit has developed software that means some listings will soon be equipped with tools that buyers can use to remodel the kitchens and move their furniture into the homes they’re looking at even before the home has hit the market.

Likewise, South Australians are so eager to introduce new technologies into the sector that industry group Prop Tech SA has identified over 500 businesses developing solutions to problems involving property including planning, design, development, leasing and asset management.

One such example is Tenant Options, an online rental application management solution that allows property managers to take control of the application management process, improve their due diligence and fill vacancies with the highest quality tenants.

During an interview with DocuSign Australia – a blog dedicated to digital transformation – Real Estate Institute of South Australia chief executive Greg Troughton claimed the time and cost savings offered by digital technologies had the power to transform his profession.

“Importantly, legislation and compliance practice have dictated to the profession, as well as customers, the way it had to be done up until this point – now the consumer is in charge, and demanding convenience.

“Some refer to this as disruption, but I think the term is overused. It’s more about enabling customers to transact in a modern way, and in the future, that may mean more customers transacting without the direct handholding by an agent that happens now in the formality of the paper and ink world.”

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