By Maggie Hall
The Ontario government recently approved the use of electronic signatures on Agreements of Purchase and Sale for real estate transactions. The amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act allows home buyers and sellers to sign important real estate transaction documents via email or text with an e-signature platform.
Currently, the transaction process can last days, even weeks. Electronic signatures – or, e-signatures – on agreements and paperless transaction software can reduce that time to minutes.
There are five core steps to the electronic transaction process:
- Creation – Your agents electronically complete the transaction forms.
- Execution – Your agents use an e-signature platform to electronically sign the forms.
- Submission – Your agents electronically submit the transaction forms to the brokerage.
- Review/approval – Brokerage administration electronically reviews and approves forms and documents.
- Storage – Brokerage administration electronically stores transaction documents.
Your agents will manage the creation and execution of transactions through the forms and e-signature provider they choose, that your association has selected or that you’ve chosen for your office. Many real estate technology providers will work with partner companies to offer e-forms and e-signature solutions that integrate with their paperless technology solutions.
Many brokers encourage certain processes for how their agents complete real estate transactions but there isn’t just one way. Here are a few scenarios of how your agents could be managing transactions:
- Agent has their independent preference and workflow with an electronic forms and e-signature provider to complete and submit their transactions.
- Agent likes using electronic forms but prefers to print and sign, then submit to the brokerage electronically.
- Agent isn’t quite ready to go paperless and prefers to work with hard copy forms and submit signed deals to the office administrators manually.
- Agent adopts the recommended brokerage paperless transaction tool.
Accommodating and supporting your agents with technology and resources to help them do their jobs more efficiently will allow you to retain your best agents and help them thrive in their business.
There are a number of technologies available to help your agents conduct paperless transactions. Choosing the one that fits your brokerage’s needs is crucial to your agents accepting and using the tool. Your agents will manage the creation and execution of transaction documents; as a broker it is your responsibility to provide a method to submit, review/approve and store transaction documents to complete the process. Finding a tool that aligns these processes seamlessly and enables your agents to manage their end of the transaction process will improve operational efficiency and increase productivity in your office.
Preparing your business
You’ve identified that your agents manage transaction processes differently and you understand what to look for in a paperless transaction tool to meet your business needs. Now you need to introduce the tool to your office and generate excitement about how this new tool will improve processes and help your agents and administrators do their jobs more efficiently.
The first step to getting buy-in and acceptance when implementing a new office tool is being 100 per cent behind the purchase decision and product you’ve chosen. If you support the product and promote its use within your office, your agents and administrators will be more likely to accept the change and adapt their business processes to include the new tool.
If your agents and administrators are excited and eager to use the tool, the implementation process will be easier. You need to equip the people using the technology with education, training and support on the system to ensure your business gets the highest ROI from the tool and maximizes its functionality. Seek a tool that includes education and training on the product initially and offers long-term support to answer any additional questions once the tool is fully implemented.
Consider the partner integrations your tool includes. Will you also need to find an e-signature platform and e-forms provider or does the technology you’ve chosen include these partner services as well?
Paperless technology is the way of the future and the way to ensure your business is on the path to sustainability and efficiency.