Property Exchange Australia (PEXA), which processes 80% of conveyancing completions in Australia, has announced plans to launch in England and Wales this autumn.
James Bawa, chief executive of PEXA UK, told Legal Futures the company was “taking a step-by-step approach”, beginning with a remortgage platform developed through a “collaborative process” with government and industry.
PEXA is an entirely online property exchange network which completed its first transaction in the state of Victoria in 2013 and since then has handled more than 11m transactions across Australia.
It was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange last year and has a market capitalisation of A$3.4bn (£1.8bn).
Mr Bawa said the initial response to engagement with lenders and the conveyancing community in England and Wales had shown a “huge appetite” for benefits PEXA could deliver.
“Fundamentally, we want to help create a more resilient market which has greater overall capacity for lenders and conveyancers, and improved choice and outcomes.
“We are taking a step-by-step approach, starting with our remortgage platform this year. We are working with stakeholders within England and Wales in a collaborative process as we bring it to market.”
He said this had included the UK government, the Land Registry, trade bodies and the wider industry, as well as testing with the Bank of England.
“For conveyancers and the market more generally, this will mean a gradual process, giving firms plenty of time to adapt, test and take advantage of the innovation.”
The remortgage platform, to be launched in the autumn, aims to streamline the process and “vastly reduce” the time taken.
Product testing is taking place with a group of mortgage lenders as part of PEXA’s integration with Bank of England systems.
PEXA said the remortgaging process typically took six to eight weeks in the UK, and slowed to as long as 12 weeks as a result of Covid-19 and the subsequent temporary changes to the stamp duty land tax.
“PEXA aims to significantly shorten this period, making remortgaging a simpler, more appealing avenue for consumers to save costs. In Australia, remortgaging times have dropped from an average of 42 to 15 days, with some remortgages even completing in one day.”
The remortgage platform is being designed with global software consultancy Thoughtworks.
PEXA aims to grow its headcount to around 50 employees in the UK by the end of this year.
Mr Bawa added: “We know that by replacing outdated and manual processes with a simple online exchange platform, we can significantly help boost both market capacity and efficiency, and take a lot of stress out of consumers’ lives.
“Our intention is to provide greater certainty for consumers, and reduce costs and administration for conveyancers and lenders alike.
“PEXA is the only company in the world to successfully and securely transition this important element within the housing sector to digital, as evidenced by its experience and growth in Australia.
“From the feedback we have had from industry so far, it’s clear how transformative our new platform will be for the UK’s remortgage market, at a time when rising interest rates and squeezed consumer finances will drive increasing demand to refinance.”