I am really pleased with a recent change in Ontario laws regulating the use of electronic signatures in real estate transactions. A big part of my job includes finding ways to work quickly and efficiently on behalf of my clients, and in a world that has in so many other ways been improved through technology, this is a real step forward. It allows for quick and decisive action where until now everything had typically come to a temporary halt.

To be clear, until July 1st, 2015, electronic signatures could not be used on agreements of purchase and sale. Now they can. There’s an article about it here on the CBC website. It’s a very short piece – just a statement of facts, really – but I was surprised by the string negative comments that followed. Were these just the typical trolls who naysay everything, or do they have a point?

In my opinion, the cranks who immediately assume the worst about this change are being pretty knee-jerk. Their starting position seems to be that things are bad and they must be getting worse.

I feel the opposite. Things are good and they are getting better. With the change, my clients can look forward to faster and better service.

HOW DOES IT IMPROVE THINGS?

I’ve been using electronic signatures for other documents, like listing agreements, price reductions and others for some time now, and I’ve never had a problem. Most of my clients prefer the option. It saves them time, and ensures no missed signatures or initials. In fact, it actually frees them to read and respond to documents on their own time, rather than within the confines of a face-to-face meeting.

Now things can be done by email, which speeds the process up and slows it down in exactly the right way. It speeds it up by enabling the transfer of required documents outside of the confines of hand-delivered pieces of paper. Now my clients can see a document the minute I’ve completed it. It slows things down by eliminating the need to meet in person to deal with documents. Now my clients have more time to read and consider what they are signing, and can email documents back to me as they see fit.

Where time is an issue, as with competitive bids, things will speed up. Where complexities matter, there is the flexibility for more back-and-forth.

Overall, I see no downside to this change. I’m thrilled, and I’m looking forward to showing my clients how and why this is going to be a good thing for them!

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