Technology

Real estate’s paperless transaction revolution is happening at light speed

Data from SkySlope and dotloop suggest over half of real estate deals in 2015 will be completed digitally

Anyone who has experienced the ease, control and transparency that a digital real estate transaction affords can sense that the days of completing deals using dead trees are more than numbered — they’re burning up.

Data provided exclusively to Inman from two of the most popular digital transaction platforms in real estate, SkySlope and dotloop, which both launched in 2009, reveal both the companies’ skyrocketing growth and real estate’s light-speed groundshift from paper to digital.

The firms’ data suggest that more than half of all residential real estate transactions in 2015 will be completed digitally, roughly double the share in 2014.

 Firm 2015 projections (2014 totals)
Fannie Mae’s projected number of new and existing-home sales 5.6 million (5.4 million)
Projected number of transactions dotloop estimates it will handle 2.1 million* (1.25 million)
Projected number of transactions SkySlope estimates it will handle 1.5 million ** (833,979)

Sources: Fannie Mae, dotloop, SkySlope *Due to infrequent account-merging issues, some transactions counted twice **Minus the number of transactions that SkySlope estimates it will double-count this year. When SkySlope is used on both the buy- and sell-side of a single transaction, the firm records that as two deals.

Together, dotloop and SkySlope estimate 3.6 million transactions will be completed through their platform this year. That represents approximately two-thirds of the 5.6 million new and existing homes that mortgage firm Fannie Mae projects will be sold in 2015.

(Two things should be noted: Dotloop counts some transactions twice when it can’t merge all the accounts related to a single deal for some reason; and when SkySlope is used on both sides of a single transaction, it records that as two transactions.)

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This projection doesn’t take into account those deals projected to be done using the major digital transaction software up-and-comer DocuSign, which raised $85 million to take its relatively new platform global last year.

The number of transactions started on the platform has grown by a month-over-month average of 29 percent in 2015 (through March), Paul Koziarz, a vice president of marketing at DocuSign, told Inman.

Year Estimated number of transactions through Dotloop* Estimated number of transactions through SkySlope**
2012 N/A 148,932
2013 800,000 385,846
2014 1.25 million 833,979
2015 (Projected) 2.1 million 1.6 million

Sources: dotloop and SkySlope *Due to infrequent account-merging issues, some transactions counted twice **In those cases when SkySlope is used on both the buy- and sell-side of a single transaction, the firm counts that as two deals.

An increasing number of real estate pros are also jumping on the digital bandwagon, swelling the total dollar volume of real estate transactions completed without paper in the process.

Platform Active users*, April 2015 (% jump over April 2014) Volume processed**, April 2015 (% jump over April 2014)
SkySlope 84,621 (42.6%) $23.9 billion (91.2%)
dotloop 757,724 (89.5%) $33.7 billion (69.3%)

Sources: SkySlope, dotloop. *SkySlope defines an active user as a paying subscriber; dotloop defines an active user as those users who log in and create, edit, view or sign documents in that month. **When SkySlope is used on both sides of a transaction, the firm counts the transaction volume twice; dotloop counts some transactions twice when it can’t resolve duplicate accounts.

Although dotloop, SkySlope and DocuSign vary slightly in how they operate, they all allow brokers, agents and their clients to fill out real estate documents digitally (in many cases), sign them digitally and track them through each step of a deal. All three platforms are mobile-optimized and have versions tailored to brokerages; DocuSign and dotloop also have versions agents can purchase directly.

Dotloop, which powers the transaction management portion of large franchisor Keller William Realty’s tech system, recently released a version of its platform tailored for teams.

SkySlope, which has over 1,000 broker clients, announced an integration with the digital form-filling software zipForm in May.

In January, DocuSign released a new version of its platform that allows users to fully complete deals from mobile devices and brokers the ability to seamlessly transfer data and documents between their back ends and the platform.

Email Paul Hagey.