Paperless deeds a step forward

Residential properties in the Toa Payoh district of Singapore on Aug 11, 2014. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

The vision for completely paperless property transactions may seem abstract, but home owners can already benefit from changes made in this area.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) launched a new online service - MyProperty - last week that allows home owners to view their own property title information for free.

Previously, owners had to pay for this information via the SLA's website or over the counter.

Most home owners do not actually keep their titles as their properties tend to still be under mortgage, so the titles are stored with the bank or the Central Provident Fund Board.

The SLA's shift towards a paperless system means all property transactions could eventually be carried out online.

The move would save costs and time.

At the moment, if an owner misplaces his property title deed, he cannot transact the property and the process of replacing a lost title deed could take about two months.

In contrast, under the paperless title system, a transaction could be as quick as a day or two, an SLA spokesman said.

Banks have been moving towards storing the titles with the SLA rather than holding on to hard copies. All banks will be required to do so from June next year.

Documents for conveyancers are both online and offline and have to be physically delivered to the SLA, along with the property title, within a certain timeframe for a deal to be done.

If the process is done completely online, there could possibly be more flexibility with lodgement hours, which are currently fixed between 8.30am and 1pm on weekdays.

Of course, security for a paperless system is paramount, and the SLA said it has addressed this issue.

Only some details need to be ironed out before paperless titles are offered as an option to home owners. Such a move keeps Singapore ahead of the curve.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline Paperless deeds a step forward. Subscribe