Electronic signatures. Most countries are already using an electronic signature on major purchases or have been for a decade or more.

As MPP Todd Smith (Prince-Hastings) pointed out during a reading at Parliament, “30 European countries now allow the use of digital signatures on real estate deals, as well as most provinces in Ontario. Most states in the United States have also made the transition”.

Is the Ontario real estate industry a late bloomer? In actuality a vast majority of consumers and business’ are already using electronic signatures of some sort on a daily basis to conduct routine business transactions. Additionally, they are doing it safely!

Therefore, why hasn’t the Ontario real estate industry adopted electronic signatures and related digital platforms?

Facts are, real estate transactions, namely the use of electronic signatures in land transfer and related activities, are excluded from the Electronic Commerce Act (ECA, 2000). The real estate industry is currently unprotected in important aspects of a real estate transaction. For this reason, agents and home buyers are discouraged and not willing to use them just yet. Thanks to Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith, this is about to change.

The Ontario Real Estate Association recently released statements providing the “applause was given by Ontario Realtors in the passage of the electronic signature” amendment due to the welcoming and supportive MPP Todd Smith and a couple of local Hastings Realtors.

Realtors know it had been a long road in the past to standardize purchase and sale agreements and an even longer road to digitize them in todays digital age. Well, they are all for it again! Realtors and parliament officials now realize the need to change a crucial part of the real estate industry is critical in keeping in line with the digital age and its economy. We have long passed the ink-to-paper-to-fax era and must move forward. Most of the world already engages in conducting business via online transactions secured with digital signatures and there is no more need to have this come to another stand-still here.

Bill No.28, the Electronic Commerce Amendment Act, 2013 , seeks to amend the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000, more specifically relating to the reliability of electronic signatures in, or of, agreements involving purchase and sale of land, foreign or otherwise. Two readings were heard at Parliament and now the Bill is at the standing committee level to be processed for voting. All signs point to the right vote on this Bill which has disadvantaged this province for over a decade. Now that this is finally changing, a whole new world of opportunity is paving the way for realtors, small business owners, and even consumers!

To find out how digital signatures can benefit your brokerage, visit DealTap.ca


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