Even those of you that may be not so inclined to use it extensively will readily agree that technology has and will continue to impact our lives. I am an ardent believer and typically an early adopter of technology, provided it offers a meaningful purpose. At the same time however, it is not meant to replace the personal contact or the human oversight that is a hugely important part of a legal transaction such as real estate.
It is not uncommon during the real estate transaction to have documents transmitted back and forth between both REALTORS® and their respective clients via fax or more likely email. All real estate documents in the province of Ontario have been reformatted to letter versus legal sized pages for this purpose. While this mode of document transmittal is fast and in the case of email much more legible than faxing, it does not lessen the burden on all parties of making sure the required forms are fully and legally executed.
Today’s forms require initials on every page to ensure none are missed, and any and all changes must be initialed by both the Buyers and Sellers. I just read an article titled “How Email Killed the Deal” in a real estate publication I follow that went like this. A recent court case arose when a change in price on an Agreement of Purchase and Sale had not been fully endorsed or acknowledged by both, the Buyers and Sellers resulting from an initial(s) and or a signature(s) having been missed on the documents. Who was at fault? In this case it was the REALTOR® for the Buyers. The Buyers were under the impression they had an accepted offer at one price whereas in the Seller’s mind it was a higher price. The matter went to court and due to the missing initial(s) the Judge ruled there was in fact no contract. The Buyers got their deposit back but no house and the Sellers lost a sale.
All of this stemmed from the fact that documents had been transmitted back and forth as attachments to emails but were seemingly not opened and checked by one or both REALTORS® to make sure that all changes etc. were duly executed by both the Buyers and the Sellers. With something as complex as today’s real estate transactions, no amount of technology can take the place of the required human intervention and care as is required to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s. This is where a trained and conscientious REALTOR® must exercise due care on behalf of their clients. Even when not dealing with people face-to-face, I always make a call during which we review the documents, I answer any questions and most importantly cover all the areas where they need to initial and sign. Just one missing initial can create a loophole thus jeopardizing a sale so it’s a matter of checking and double checking everything.In my next post I will explain the process of what happens with Buyer’s deposits when a real estate transaction is aborted.