Going paperless is a dream for many busy real estate agents, but until recently it was an intimidating prospect. However, new digital laws and creative real estate technology companies are helping to make the switch less intimidating, and real estate agents who have been prepared for years can now leave paper behind, affordably. Without piles of documents to move from one place to another, real estate transactions are much faster and cheaper. Many agents and investors who work paperless can close more deals simply because they have more time; this kind of progress is good for the industry as a whole.
The road to a paperless real estate industry in the US began in 2000, with the legalization of electronic signatures. Although most real estate agencies, government branches, and investors didn’t have the technology to digitally sign things at the time, it was a major legal hurdle that allowed many industries to look at paperless transaction methods. By the end of 2005, more than 60 counties (the primary storage point for real estate records) across the country had developed electronic records management systems, and this number has continued to increase steadily. Other government steps toward paperless real estate have included the Uniform Electronic Real Estate Act, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, and the Federal Electronic Signatures in Global and Domestic Commerce Act.
Mortgage companies have also played a role in the shift to paperless real estate. In recent years, the Mortgage Industry Standards Organization has implemented many standards for electronic mortgages, which have been followed by lenders across the country.
With these two pillars in place, the paperless real estate industry has been able to grow freely. Real estate title companies that have been around for decades now offer paperless closing services that attract thousands of new customers each year. All a real estate agent needs to do to start a paperless transaction is to fax or scan an original document and send it to the paperless transaction company. Once the paper has been digitized (usually to a secure website), paperless management companies allow both agents and investors to access the document and make changes as closing approaches.
It may be easier than you think to get rid of paper and free up more time for your real estate business.