Twelve years ago in 2000, the real estate industry took its first stride towards going green with paperless transactions. It was in Broward County Florida that the original computerized home buying process took place, cutting the process of recording the purchase and financing of a home down to a whopping five minutes. At the time, confirmation documents with the pertinent information was forwarded to the settlement agent by email immediately, and images of the recorded documents were swiftly made accessible on the county’s website.
Since, then, however, many real estate companies around the States have been lagging when it comes to catching the train to paperless proceedings. In fact, in many parts of Maryland and Washington DC, the real estate world has failed to upgrade from horse-drawn cars to steam locomotives: they still use paper, pen, and notary stamps.
The major issue with this old-fashioned method of record keeping is time: it requires making several trips to courthouses or recorders of deeds, which in turn calls for payment of fees and the presentation of original documents for recording. Manually processing, imaging, and returning these documents can take anywhere from two to eight weeks, depending upon the jurisdiction.
But why hop aboard the paperless trend? It eliminates the need for a middleman to drive sale contracts around town, and strikes the necessity for buyers and sellers to meet together in one place at one time. Too, it will rid of illegibly re-faxed contracts and messy documents with cross-outs and different handwriting. Going electronic also means, of course, that purchases and sales documents all have the capacity to be stored and accessed in digital form at any given point in the near or distant future. Finally, it will provide homebuyers with the luxury to review documents from home on their own time, and to conveniently forward the information to attorneys for evaluation.
Digital signature programs like Authentisign, which is approved by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and complies with the Federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN), have streamlined the process of electronic documentation. Essentially, what E-SIGN did was to ensure that contracts couldn’t be denied validity just because they were in a digital format. This in turn revolutionized the secure authentication of real estate contracts.
Whether or not the real estate company you’re working with in your endeavors to find a new home have gone paperless or not, it’s important to remember that Title Insurance, just like electronic forms, will ultimately make your home buying process that much simpler. With a one-time payment fee, title insurance will protect you and your home against any potential title defects, liens, or other issues, freeing you from the prospect of legal issues. It’s important to select a company like Colony Title that will perform thorough checks of public records to ensure your property is actually available for sale before you sign those documents, whether electronically or with pen and paper.
If you have questions, the Maryland real estate insurance experts at Colony Title Associates can be reached by calling 410 884-1160 or visit ColonyTitle.com today!
About Colony Title Associates:
Founded in 1995, Colony Title Group handles in excess of 2000 real estate closings per year in the central Maryland area. The founder Tee Tillman has over 23 years experience in the title and real estate law fields. Colony handles closings for several lenders, including banks, credit unions and mortgage brokers. Colony is the preferred choice for many real estate brokers in the area.
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Real estate in the digital age: The time has come