Darren Ross is no stranger to the paperless real estate transaction. As director of electronic commerce for Stewart Information Services Corp., Ross is active in the research, development and implementation of paperless real estate transactions, electronic mortgage transactions and e-closings utilizing enforceable electronic documents, digital signatures, and secure virtual transaction folders for all real estate transaction participants.

Darren Ross is no stranger to the paperless real estate transaction. As director of electronic commerce for Stewart Information Services Corp., Ross is active in the research, development and implementation of paperless real estate transactions, electronic mortgage transactions and e-closings utilizing enforceable electronic documents, digital signatures, and secure virtual transaction folders for all real estate transaction participants.

Ross has more than 18 years of Information Systems and IT management experience and has co-authored many real estate industry data standards. He is currently working on industry standards for electronic mortgage transactions and XHTML SMART documents as well as various business and technology standards for county and municipal courts and recorders/clerks offices.

Ross will speak during Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 27-29, 2005.

Here are his answers to a set of questions posed by Inman News:

Panel or session at Connect: Going Digital – Case Studies of the Paperless Transaction.

What type of home did you grow up in and where?

A wood-framed, three-bedroom home that was built sometime around 1948. It was maybe only 1,000 square feet, but very comfortable and homey. The wooden front porch with white wooden columns and trellis made for wonderful evenings of sitting outside on the porch rocking chair.

What style of home do you live in and when did you buy it?

I now live in a custom-built, ranch-style home overlooking a series of small lakes. The new home, purchased in 2000, is a 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, 2-1/2-bath all-brick home with fantastically high ceilings and a beautiful skylight providing natural sunlight to the oversized kitchen (from about 26 feet up!).

What worries keep you awake at night?

Generally, the things that I can’t control are the types of things that worry me the most. However, usually waiting until the night before or even the morning to prepare and complete a PowerPoint presentation for that day (of course not at Real Estate Connect), is probably the most frequent worry that keeps me awake at night.

Describe your dream home?

Hmmm…maybe inheriting Bill Gates’ home? No, that’s way too big and probably a bit eccentric for me. I love all sorts of styles of homes, but I would choose something that had lots of open space around it – acreage, woods, lake, hilltop. I like lots of windows and views to the outside world. I prefer a home that has a large kitchen and dining area that is also open to a large family room. Super-sized master bedrooms and baths are also my favorites. I also love balconies – there is nothing better than walking outside on your private balcony/patio from a second or third story and watching the golfers, the ocean, or just generally enjoying an evening.

What lesson did you learn in the last year?

That things change. And sometimes, change takes time. For anything worth value in life, you must be committed and diligent in everything you do in pursuit of your goals and often remember that patience indeed is a virtue. Oh – and never plug the device into your computer before installing the software first.

What was your first job?

Well, it’s sometimes hard to qualify what exactly was a real “job.” I remember having my own summer lawn-mowing service at age 10. I went around the neighborhood (and it was a big one), door to door, with a sign-up sheet complete with customer’s names, address, desired start date, frequency and price. As the list grew, prospective customers saw all of the names on the sign up sheet and thought, “Wow – he must do a good job,” and they signed up. I could be seen walking down the street pushing lawn mowers, edgers, brooms (no blowers back then), gas cans and such for blocks. It worked out well – I generally averaged about $200 a week. And hey – no taxes taken out for the IRS!

What’s the strangest thing you ever packed in a suitcase?

Wow…can we publish that here? Seriously, I suppose it would be a live desert turtle that I once found in Arizona at a conference. I found it walking around in a dry creek bed and just loved the little guy. I wanted to take him home to my kids. So, I put him in my carry on suitcase and cleared him through airport security (after all – he wasn’t metal) and took him on the plane home with me. After we were all seated and in the air, I took him out of the suitcase and he flew first class with me in my seat all the way home. Hopefully he wasn’t an endangered species.

What would your second career choice be after real estate?

A professional musician. I am actually already that, but it’s obviously relegated to a part-time status now. I would love to spend my days writing music, doing studio work and recording sessions, performing, scheduling my next world tour and selling millions of albums (or have we stopped calling them that now in the world of CDs?).

What kind of music do you listen to?

Everything. It depends on my mood. I like classical, jazz (modern and ’30s/’40s standards), Motown oldies, classic rock, disco, pop, and yes, country. I’m often a sucker for ballads and love songs – probably comes with being a piano player and singer.

Who is your hero?

This is a hard question. There are so many people in the world and in our personal lives that can earn the designation of a “hero” in one way or another. And there is never just one. There are many heroes. If I had to pick just one personal hero, I would choose my father. Although he passed away when I was only 10, he always worked hard, dedicated quality time with the family and instilled in me at a young age to always do what you feel is right and not necessarily what others may tell you is right. That philosophy creates a high level of confidence, self-esteem and independence – some of the core qualities that form leaders and perhaps ultimately, heroes.

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