Going paperless is a dream for many busy real estate agents, but until recently it was a scary prospect. However, new digital laws and creative real estate technology companies are helping to make the switch less scary, and realtors who have been preparing for years can now leave affordable paper. Without stacks of documents to move from place to place, real estate transactions are much faster and more economical. Many agents and investors working paperless can close more deals because they have more time—such advancements are good for the industry as a whole.
The road to a paperless real estate industry in the United States began in 2000 with the legalization of electronic signatures. Although most real estate agencies, government departments, and investors lacked the technology to digitally sign things at the time, it was important legal hurdles that enabled many industries to look to paperless transaction methods. By the end of 2005, more than 60 counties across the country (the primary storage point for real estate records) had developed electronic records management systems, and that number continues to grow. Other government moves toward paperless real estate include the Uniform Real Property Electronic Act, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, and the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act.
Mortgage companies have also played a role in the shift to paperless real estate. In recent years the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization has implemented many standards for electronic mortgages, which are followed by lenders across the country.
Laying these two foundations has enabled the paperless real estate industry to grow freely. Real estate title companies that have existed for decades are now offering paperless closing services that are attracting thousands of new clients each year. All a realtor needs to do to initiate a paperless transaction is to fax or scan an original document and send it to the paperless transaction company. Once the paper is digitized (usually on a secure website), paperless management companies enable both agents and investors to access the document and make changes as closing approaches.
It may be easier than you think to free yourself from paper and free up more time for your real estate business.