Saturday, January 18, 2014

Contracts: Where Tech and Real Estate Could Actually Meet and Add Value

The past few years I've worked in real estate. One thing I've noticed: a general dis-trust, or at least dislike for many technological solutions. The slow adoption of e-Signatures are one that particularly get me. It's hysterical to me how many institutions refuse to accept them. Many of the government owned properties as well major banks amongst them. It's so much easier to forge a ink signature compared to electronic, that I really am not certain that's the reason for the refusal.

These institutions tend to have very rigid, and exacting, contract terms, what they want signed and all that. I've wondered for quite some time why they don't each build their own website for the offer and contract process. Electronic forms can be set to demand a signature/initial for each item, with prompts set up and refusing to advance in the process until completed. It seems so much cleaner to have folks go to a website and fill out the form with prompts than to email me information, I enter into a website, the site prompts negotiation points, email those to other party (redo until agreement reached), print a contract, email the contract, print it, review it, sign it, rescan it, email it back, then upload to some site. If nothing else, these multiple steps violate the basic principles of data normalization. Which, to me, is begging for trouble.

I expect that technology will make real impacts in this space soon. Now that e-signatures are part of our MLS, many real estate services provide that complimentary, the demand will clear and straightforward. Hopefully, the better security will become more obvious, too. And I see some great innovation opportunities (easy and simple idea: dialog box pops out to highlight a key contract term...just a simple, easy example). Slow but steady evolution will come, surely.
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