They’re only just now starting to become part of agents’ everyday business, but the Ontario government is already looking for ways to better secure electronic signatures.
“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 of electronic signatures. “Of course the concern is how can we prevent fraud?”
Electronic signatures, or e-signatures, are exactly what they sound like: systems allowing clients to “sign” a document online or via email. E-signature providers must be verified, but the signatures are completely legal – thanks to an earlier amendment in 2013.
Their use is increasingly popular among busy agents, and they’re more convenient for clients, too – especially those who are relocating to the area.
“[Electronic signatures] will make it easier,” Eric Andrews, an agent with Royal LePage, tells REP. “[Agents] won’t have to chase someone down just to get a signature.”
In Ontario, the public can write or email the Ministry of the Attorney General to express their views or concerns about e-signatures. Meilleur said the issues raised by the public will be considered when the Ontario Electronic Commerce Act is amended in the new year, though an exact timeline is not available.
According to Metro News, real estate professionals have already asked for the inclusion of strict verification protocols, an audit trail and police accessibility, among other amendment requests.
Andrews, for one, says he’s excited to learn more about e-signatures, especially if they will save him time. “It will probably simplify things so I’m excited,” he says.