Ontario allows real estate documents to be signed electronically

The Government of Ontario announced today that real estate consumers will be permitted to use electronic signatures on real estate agreements of purchase and sale (APS) as of July 1st, 2015. 

“The agreement of purchase and sale is one of the most important documents in a real estate transaction,” said Patricia Verge, Ottawa-area REALTOR® and president of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). “The ability to sign it electronically will make the process of buying or selling more efficient. This is great news for REALTORS® as well as consumers across the province.”

Electronic signatures on agreements of purchase and sale will significantly reduce the time required to process a deal. At present, agreements of purchase and sale are often faxed, scanned and emailed numerous times over the course of a transaction.

“This process can be cumbersome and by the time the final version is signed, the agreement can be difficult to read,” said Verge. “The technology allows agreements to be filled out on a computer or tablet, changes can be tracked and documents can be transmitted with ease.”

The government’s decision comes in the form of proclamation of a 2013 amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000 (ECA), which extended the legal protections of the Act to include electronic real estate agreements of purchase and sale. The Ministry of the Attorney General is responsible for the ECA. The Ministry led the consultations and approved the final proclamation of the amendment. 

“Buying or selling a home is one of the most complex, time-consuming transactions that most people make – it’s also one of the most important,” said Attorney General, Madeleine Meilleur. “I hope that this change will open the door to new and innovative processes that will ultimately make the experience easier and less stressful for families.” 

“The government has taken the time to get this issue right,” said Verge. “Extensive consultations were hosted to ensure that both the industry as well as the public were well served by the move to electronic signatures. Thank you to Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur for her leadership on this important issue.” 

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