Since our recent article in which I outlined Landgate’s changes to verification of identity (VOI) requirements, some agents have asked us how the new system impacts overseas sellers.
The short answer is: The identification process for overseas sellers has, for the most part, not changed.
As before, overseas sellers must confirm their identity by having their passport, driver’s license and original Shire rates notice verified at an Australian Consular Office at the time of signing the Transfer.
These requirements can make settlement difficult for overseas sellers, as we discovered this time last year while dealing with a seller who lived in Scotland – in this case, the client had to travel across the UK to the Australian High Commission in London, to be identified.
What has changed in the identification process is that the settlement agent must now complete a statement confirming that the client has completed VOI and that the settlement agent believes the client has the authority to deal with the property. This puts an added burden of liability on the settlement agent, but has little effect on the seller.
While the identification process for overseas sellers remains largely unchanged, last week’s fraud scare has highlighted the need for continued vigilance when dealing with overseas sellers.
In one of the cases revealed last week, the fraudsters sent the agent fake passports, forged signatures and a certificate of verification supposedly from an Australian High Commission – a reminder that it is unwise to rely on identification documents and emails alone.
To reduce the risk of falling victim to a scammer, make a habit of phoning each overseas seller and conversationally asking questions that only the real owner would know. For an agent, those questions might be about council rates, strata levies, and details of the house such as floor coverings or the colour of the walls.
By carrying out quality conversations with overseas clients, you can add another layer of protection against property fraud in WA.
Image by Simon_sees via Flickr.