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Realtors happy electronic sales agreements will soon be legal

Ontario realtors say they are pleased that it will soon be legal to conclude agreements of purchase and sale of real estate in Ontario electronically. An amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act that would allow this was included in the Ontario government’s budget, which passed at Queen’s Park yesterday.

Previously, real estate transactions were excluded from the Act’s provisions, making it necessary for realtors and their clients to rely on faxing and emailing changes to a hard copy of an agreement back and forth throughout the negotiating process. After several rounds of changes, each of which must be initialed by all parties, the document could be difficult to read. Using the electronic method, the document can be amended cleanly on a computer or tablet as often as necessary, and made available via the Internet to all parties instantly.

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The old-fashioned way, with paper. The Ontario Real Estate Association says it is about time Ontario caught up with other jurisdictions in North America that already allow electronic purchase and sale agreements. An amendment to make this legal passed with the Ontario budget yesterday.

A private members bill to update the Act was introduced back in May, 2012, by two MPPs, one of whom, Yasir Naqvi, is now the minister of labour. At the time he said that removing the real estate exemption from the Act would remove a “cumbersome” piece of red tape. With the passage of the budget and the amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act, consumers and realtors can benefit from technology that “makes real estate transactions more efficient, accessible and secure,” said Ron Abraham, then president of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).

Now, all parties can access agreements of purchase and sale through the Internet, anywhere in the world. It will save both consumers and realtors time and money, Abraham said.

In its statement about the change to the law, OREA said that the government will first consult with stakeholders, including OREA, before the amendment is proclaimed into law. There are issues of implementation and security to be dealt with, the realtors group said.

“We look forward to working with the government to get this important change proclaimed into law,” said Phil Dorner. OREA’s current president. “Electronic agreements of purchase and sale are commonly used in jurisdictions across the United States and it’s about time Ontarians have access to them.”

The Ontario Real Estate Association represents over 56,000 brokers and salespeople on forty-one real estate boards throughout the province.

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