Within Australia, the stringent requirements surrounding a seller’s Verification of Identity (VOI) makes early preparation and collation of the necessary documents key factors to ensure a smooth settlement process and avoid delays.
An archive case demonstrates both the critical nature of early preparation and the importance of having all of the relevant identification documents close at hand prior to settlement. In this instance, a lost marriage certificate meant that a client couldn’t satisfy the VOI requirements, leaving her unable to proceed to settlement and threatening to cost her thousands of dollars in penalty interest.
Our seller, Eva Spritz, (not her real name) purchased a local property before marrying overseas and changing her name to Eva Lancaster. Once married, she obtained a British passport in her new married name, Eva Lancaster.
Unfortunately for Eva, sometime after her marriage date and before returning to Australia to sell her property, her marriage certificate was accidentally destroyed, leaving her with only a photocopy of the certificate.
However, to sell her property, Eva needed to satisfy Landgate’s VOI requirements and therefore provide all documentation as listed in one of five specific categories as distinct from the simpler 100 point ID check used by her listing agent. But because the Certificate of Title and her passport were registered in different names, she was required to provide an original or valid marriage certificate or change of name document.
With no marriage certificate, Eva couldn’t satisfy the VOI requirements, leaving her unable to settle.
To solve the problem, we applied to the relevant authorities in the UK, requesting to have the marriage certificate re-issued. Even though this can take up to 6 weeks, we were able to have the process expedited. With the arrival of the new marriage certificate, Eva was able to settle on the last day of the grace period, avoiding $200 per day in penalty interest.
This situation could have been avoided if her real estate agent had notified Eva of Landgate’s specific VOI documentation requirements whilst completing the 100 point ID check with her- especially since her driver’s license and passport were registered in different names. By pre-identifying this issue, her agent could have then made her O & A conditional upon her obtaining the necessary documentation.
What we can learn from Eva’s story are these key points:
1. Landgate’s VOI is based on two mandatory requirements:
– Identity Document Production: production of original and valid identity documents from one of five pre-set categories, and
– Visual Verification of Identity: a visual ‘face to face’ comparison of the photograph on the identity documents to the client.
2. There are five categories of identification documents accepted: (We prefer the “strongest” form of verification as requested in categories 1 and 2.) Category Minimum Document Requirements:
- Australian Passport plus Australian Drivers Licence or Australian Proof of Age Card with Photo
- Australian Passport plus Birth or Citizenship or Descent Certificate or Resident Visa (with Change of Name or Marriage cert if necessary) plus Medicare or Centrelink or Department of Veteran Affairs Card.
- Australian Drivers Licence or Australian Proof of Age Card with photo plus Birth or Citizenship or Descent Certificate or Resident Visa (with Change of Name or Marriage cert if necessary) plus Medicare or Centrelink or Department of Veteran Affairs Card.
- Declaration of Identity plus Birth or Citizenship or Descent Certificate or Resident Visa (with Change of Name or Marriage cert if necessary) plus Medicare or Centrelink or Department of Veteran Affairs Card.
- Foreign Passport plus Visa plus Current Rates Notice for the property issued by local government and Drivers Licence (if verification conducted in Australia)
3. The following documents require VOI to be completed: Transfer of Land, Mortgage, Request for Duplicate Certificate of Title, Replacement Duplicate Certificate of Title, Transmission, Survivorship, Power of Attorney
4. VOI must occur immediately prior to the execution of the required document (such as a Transfer of Land).
5. Real estate agents are not required to carry out VOI – however they are still required to follow the procedures set by their office in relation to completing a 100 point ID check at the time of listing a property.
How will you handle VOI requirements next time you list a property?
Image by Rafael Anderson Gonzales Mendoza via Flickr.