Inman News has launched an industry-wide education initiative aimed at promoting the paperless real estate transaction, the independent real estate news service said today.

Ten years ago, in November 1996, Inman News founder Bradley Inman challenged the nation’s real estate and technology leaders to use emerging technologies to simplify the real estate transaction for consumers by eliminating unnecessary paper and making the transaction process less cumbersome and easier for everyone involved. 

The digital or “paperless” real estate transaction is catching on. Big companies, trade groups and entrepreneurs are investing in technology platforms, back-end systems and software to automate the real estate transaction, and are digging deeper for change to revolutionize the costly and paper-weighted closing process.

“Progress is being made, but the industry and the consumer continue to be overwhelmed by paper. It is time to make the safest transaction – American home ownership – paperless,” Inman said.

The initiative will include the production of a series of Internet videos on digital transaction innovations, a Web site devoted to industry and public education, a series of audio conferences with industry leaders, a special conference program, and research on progress toward the paperless home sale.

Inman News soon will name an advisory panel of industry leaders to help direct the initiative.

A decade ago, even the simplest real estate transaction involved as many as 50 people handling a multitude of forms that required as many as 100 signatures and initials by the buyer and seller before closing. “The entire process remains inefficient, way too costly and full of hassles for everyone involved,” Inman said.

Today, consumers and real estate agents are just beginning to benefit from the application of technology to everyday real estate procedures. Consumers can review property listings online, take a virtual home tour, select an agent, look for a loan and even sign forms online using pen-based technologies that automatically replicate signatures throughout the various real estate transaction documents. At the end of the transaction, documents can be warehoused on digital media.

“There has been progress, but significant barriers remain and it’s going to take everyone pulling together to come up with ways to surmount these challenges,” Inman said. “This initiative will bring relevant players to the table to sit down and hammer out the solutions needed for agents, lenders, title companies and consumers to realize the benefits of a fully paperless real estate transaction. If we can reduce the amount of time and energy it takes to perform a transaction, that’s good news for everyone.”

The initiative also will focus on educating the industry and consumers about the tools and processes involved in a paperless transaction. “A lot of people are chained to a pen and paper,” Inman said. “They need to be educated about the benefits paperless transactions will offer. It’s a matter of changing long-standing behaviors and eliminating the fear of new, more efficient methods and procedures.”

For more information about the initiative, contact Bradley Inman, publisher of Inman News, at 510-658-9252, ext. 125, or e-mail him at brad@inman.com.

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