The use of electronic signatures on agreements of purchase and sale is around the corner. The amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000 allowing the use of electronic signatures is awaiting proclamation.
We expect electronic signatures to be permissible as of July 1, 2015; however, TREB will keep Members up to date on the progress of this proclamation.
Electronic signatures on agreements of purchase and sale will help improve transaction efficiency by reducing the time required to complete a deal. In doing so, electronic signatures will help improve the consumer experience while saving REALTORS® time and money.
The Ontario government is looking at allowing electronic signatures for real estate transactions.
“It’s often the most important transaction that people are doing — (but) a lot of times they’re busy at work or they don’t live in the same city,” Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur said Tuesday at Queen’s Park.
“So we want them to be able to sign a mortgage or a deed or the sale of a house or the buying of a house and make it easier for them,” Meilleur said in an interview.
“Of course the concern is how can we prevent fraud? So we’re consulting the public about it.”
Meilleur said the consultation will help determine what regulatory measures are needed to ensure the reliability and security of e-signatures so the Ontario Electronic Commerce Act can be amended accordingly.
Asked when in the new year the changes would be in place, the attorney general said: “I don’t think it’s going to be a long timetable.”
The modernization would enable people to electronically sign paperwork and email it to their real estate agent, which would simplify transactions.
Currently, most land transfers must be done in person using paper.
In an era of expanding e-commerce, Meilleur said it just makes sense to update the laws.
But she cautioned that it is crucial to protect the integrity of real estate sales.
Real estate lawyers and other interested parties have asked that any electronic signature system have strict verification protocols; have an audit trail to determine who sent what when; be accessible to police to curb fraud; and have safeguards in place to prevent deletion.