Elite Agent

Property services industry moves forward with electronic signatures

It will soon be possible to sign and witness documents, including contracts like residential agreements, electronically in a huge step forward for the property services industry, according to the Real Estate Institute of NSW.

Currently, the Electronic Transactions Regulation 2017 (NSW) prevents the electronic witnessing of documents. If passed without amendment, the Conveyancing Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (NSW) will enable witnesses to sign documents electronically.

REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin said REINSW has been vocal on the importance of this issue for many years, and said it was great to see the Government had finally taken the step forward.

“This is good for agents, landlords and tenants,” Mr McKibbin said.

“Times are changing, and technology is playing a more pivotal role in the property services industry and this amendment will bring the industry in line with other industries, embracing technology and streamlining business practices.

“We have lobbied hard for this win and we are proud that we can provide the tools property professionals need to take advantage of the efficiencies this Bill will enable when passed.

“With digital forms and agreements, and digital signing platforms – such as REI Forms Live and DocuSign – at the ready, property managers across NSW will have the ability to develop, communicate and finalise residential tenancy agreements digitally,” Mr McKibbin said.

Introduced into NSW Parliament by the Upper House (Legislative Council) on 17 October 2018, the Bill was passed without amendment on 24 October. The same day, it was sent to the Lower House (Legislative Assembly) and passed on 13 November. It was then assented by the Governor on 22 November.

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12 Comments

  1. A great step forward but the sting in the tail regarding the ongoing circus as you refer to it is not something to take flipiantly with having a clear understanding of the issues. An unbiased investigation by Elite Agent into why the NSW Government and Fair Trading are stalling on the introduction of the biggest reforms to the Real Estate Industry we have ever seen until after the state election would be very beneficial to having intelligent debate on the subject. Why is it, now 8 months since it passed unopened in both Houses of Parliament and was promised to begin in July and then October of this year that there are still no draft regulations or guidelines to consult on? And why is it that Minister Kean is not acknowledging the fact that there are probably copious quantities of unaudited Trust accounts still slipping through the FT net due to the debacle they created when they withdrew the need for agents to submit all audits and not just qualified audits annually. And now we are seeing and will continue to see the results of 4 years without adequate checks and balances. The new reforms cover this and correct the mistake but they are not enacted so the frauds keep happening instead of being picked up annually. And that is why the REINSW has called it out and said to Givernment and FT… NOT GOOD ENOUGH

    1. John, you know I respect your views and opinions.

      However, what we are seeing in our inboxes, particularly over this past week, is a war of words between the State Government and the CEO of REINSW being played out via the media. Clearly, other forms of communication between the two have broken down for reasons we are not privy to (but can imagine). The good people in this industry, of which there are plenty, deserve better leadership than what we are seeing from current representation and the way these issues are being played out in the public domain.

      To be clear – that’s not a flippant comment, but a genuine concern.

      I do agree there is typically is more than one side to every story — and I am happy to sit down with both the REINSW CEO and the Minister (and yourself even) and listen to all and present a fair and unbiased view to the industry and our readers. But to date, REINSW hasn’t ever invited Elite Agent to debate anything. Maybe this is an opportunity.

      Samantha McLean
      Editor
      [email protected]

      1. Yes Sam as you say the opportunity is there right now and consider it an invitation for Elite Agent to be involved as this issue needs clarity instead of the misinformation from government spin doctors . The reason that this is now so public is that working behind closed doors with FT and the current minister this past 18 months has been fruitless compared with the previous two years of a very fruitful relationship with the previous minister. So there comes a time when the only way forward it to make it public so that the truth is know and action can be taken. The current approach to put the Industry back in its box and keep us quiet is not a clever approach nor is the undoing of a very positive relationship built up over 6 years that forged the reform in the first place . So yes let’s openly debate the issue and provide the facts that can then be judged on their merit

        1. The REI’s are loss making machines. According to all their own annual reports they are all in red (except REIWA). They’re lack of acumen is astounding. How would they advise businesses when they can’t manage their own.

          1. I find it always it a good idea to check your Facts before you open your mouth! And why you did not view the 2018 REINSW Annual report is very odd considering the $974,000 profit, and also if you understood the realities of the 2016/17 year in relation to REALCOVER, the Industry PI Insurance company that has saved the Industry tens of millions of $ in premiums you may also take a different view instead of hiding behind your fake news name.

      2. Hi Sam,
        I think that is a great idea! I completely understand that it looks like “a circus” from the outside, and from the inside its one of the most frustrating things I have ever been involved in. I would welcome the opportunity for an unbiased look at what is happening. Can I organise for you to catch up with REINSW?
        Happy to put you in contact with the Ministers office and the appropriate people in Fair Trading to look at all sides of the story. Regards, LEANNE

  2. I don’t see the comment about the “other ongoing circus” as a flippant comment – it is a circus, with the players playing out their comedic routine in public.
    The REINSW has been telling everyone for well over 12 months now that the “reforms” would be introduced on 1 July, 2018 (and they weren’t).
    NSW FT have advised the Regulations were being drafted (and they are still, presumably) and stakeholders would be consulted before their implementation (we wait in anticipation, but with not much hope of that happening anytime soon). It is best to ensure they get it right than to rush something through and have to change later – as has happened in the past. Trying to “bully” the Minister and the regulator into action is not helpful, although it might be desirable! So, the circus is “ongoing”.
    The “industry” (and, no doubt, NSW Fair Trading) are waiting for the new Training Package to be approved and released before they progress too far down the regulatory pathway – because that would require changes to the licensing regime once released.
    The delays in releasing the new Training Package are not within NSW Fair Trading’s remit – that is a Federal responsibility – although the training manager of the REINSW is the Chair of the committee responsible for developing the training package, so one would assume some insight to the processes there, and the inter-play between the two?!
    An understanding of the many and varied processes at play in regulatory reform is in everyone’s best interests. The wheels of regulatory reform might move too slowly for all of us, but often there is good reason for that – “a stitch in time, saves nine” is an old saying, possibly worth reflecting upon.

    1. Yes agree Tony with all you say, and the only reason the 1st of July was ever quoted was because that was the agreed date at the RERG and the then minister but then it got pushed as you know to Oct/Nov and now until after the election. It is also interesting to note how quickly government can act when they see fit on regulations but for some reason this is being dragged out for no apparent reason, the regs were supposed to be in draft form by July this year but alas, nothing!. The training package will be approved this month ( right on time) so that will be well and truly ready but that was not going to hold up the regs by any means just the implementation of the act. I believe our frustrations lay in the apparent dis-interest from the minister in getting on with it and now that we go into waiting mode for 5 months the purpose of the reforms is in limbo when we all agree it is needed more than ever especially with the trust audit issue becoming very very serious in the past few months as systematic non-audits are being discovered due to the changes FT made in 2013 to only require qualified reports to be lodged. So we move on and all hope that the “Circus “will conclude very soon once the minister acknowledges the issue and is prepared to talk sensibly before the elections.

    2. Hi Tony,
      FT were the ones that gave the initial timing of July implementation, REI were following their lead. It then moved to October, and is now “some time after the election”. Last we heard the regs had not been started. This isn’t within our control and is causing endless frustration. The reforms were passed with support from both sides of Parliament early this year, yet FT still haven’t done what they need to do. I have no desire to “bully” anyone, you know me well enough to know that. We need to get a resolution for everyone, and that just was not happening within the RERG. I appreciate that from the outside it does look like a circus, but if you were in these endless circular meetings you would completely understand why we had to leave that environment. If Fair Trading are waiting for the Training Package release it would have been nice for them to actually just say so!

  3. Leanne (& John),
    I would have loved to have been in those meetings, and to add additional “weight” to the push for reforms to occur (as would many others who also have a desire to see the industry reforms implemented) – but training providers (public and private) have been “left out” and, indeed, “from the outside” it does look like a chaotic process – and, unecessarily so.
    Imagine the pressure that could be applied if ALL industry “stakeholders” were able to work together, in a spirit of cooperation, to achieve agreed, consistent, co-ordinated, and respectful outcomes.
    I, (and others), would be happy to engage to assist in developing agreed, consistent, and sustainable reforms – we’ve been offering for 3 years to little/no avail.

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