It’s not often that a provincial budget makes people happy, but the most recent one for Ontario has a lot of us realtors feeling good about one particular part. This 2013 budget has provisions which will eventually give Ontario approval for electronic real estate agreements.
The issue hinges on a significant change to an Act that was passed in 2000, the Electronic Commerce Act or ECA. This act is now on its way to including legal protection for electronic real estate agreements. Why our industry was excluded from the act in 2000 is unclear, but most realtors are pleased to finally be included.
Allowing home purchases and sales to be formalized by electronic signature will offer many benefits to realtors, buyers and sellers. The main benefits will be the speed and efficiency with which real estate transactions can be done. These proposed changes mean that our industry can become confident with using technology to finalize deals.
One of the biggest challenges to wrapping up a real estate transaction is the sheer amount of time that they tend to drag on for. The next challenge is that of the masses of paperwork required to close a deal. Amazingly, realtors are among the few professionals who continue to use fax machines, which by most industry standards are considered to be dinosaurs! Yet realtors have had to rely on the tedious process of faxing or scanning and emailing, often several times, during the course of a real estate deal. And if anyone has poor hand-writing, then the process is slowed down even more…
Soon realtors, buyers and sellers will be able to easily execute deals on computers or tablets, perhaps even while on site. Surely it won’t be long before we’re finalizing deals on our cell phones. The key word here is ‘easily’ because everyone wants life to be made just a little bit more so.
The amendment is not yet set in stone. The province will speak with the Ontario Real Estate Association, OREA, and other stakeholders in order to ensure that all security measures have been taken into consideration. Let’s hope that those are quick conversations and that the amendment will be “proclaimed” into law as soon as possible.
OREA reminds us that these type of electronic agreements are commonly used in many American jurisdictions, and that Ontario is overdue for such changes.