Most real estate industry observers and “thought leaders” agree that it’s far past time for the paperless revolution to have reached the home sale process. With its veritable mountains of paperwork, real estate transactions remain mired in the 1950s while all around us electronic options are exploding.
One can make a mortgage payment automatically and/or online. The bills can all be paid without paper actually changing hands through the mail (sorry, USPS). Insurance can be renewed right from your smartphone. But if you want to buy a property, you still have to (in most cases) go down to the office and sit for two hours, filling out form after form with your agent.
Anyone who’s suffered through a settlement knows the question that invariably pops out of someone’s mouth: “Can I just use a stamp for my signature?” No.
Thankfully, innovators in the real estate space are slowly making headway. My favorite is Dotloop, a Cincinnati-based digital firm that is working to tie the whole transaction up with a digital bow -- forms 100 percent online, connecting co-brokerage agents over the web in order to eliminate faxing back and forth during the offer and counter-offer phase. E-Signature and initials are all there.
In short, you really can be sitting on a beach somewhere drinking a margarita while you sign your sales agreement. This is really good stuff, and there are other companies working on similar projects to bring paperless to reality in the U.S. real estate market.
We’re getting there, albeit slowly. To some degree, the culture has to change towards acceptance of new approaches – and the technology has to become even more seamless to the real estate consumer. Frankly, I’m excited at the possibilities.