Buying or selling a home can be a cumbersome process involving endless emails, faxes and phone calls for all parties involved. Thankfully technology is taking some of the pain out of the process by enabling buyers, sellers and their representatives to seal the deal without having to leave the comfort of their computer.
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“The underlying problem with real estate transactions is it involves multiple people in multiple locations,” says Austin Allison, co-founder and chief executive of DotLoop, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based Internet real estate collaboration software company. “Anyone who has bought or sold a home knows how cumbersome the paper work can be.”
In an effort to overcome those problems Allison, along with his co-founders, launched DotLoop in 2008 with the idea that a real estate transaction can be as efficient as buying a book at Amazon.com. According to Allison, easing the process of buying a home is becoming increasingly important since the latest homebuyer generation are used to communicating through technology in their everyday lives. “Younger buyers are dominating the market. It was becoming an inconvenience for me and my clients,” says Allison of why he started the company.
DotLoop is a collaborative workspace the lets the parties involved in the real estate transaction work together online, eliminating the need for faxing, emailing and printing documents. The software allows everyone to share and access the same documents.
“It streamlines the signing process, the signing happens electronically,” says Allison, noting that the software is growing rapidly s and bounds with DotLoop being used in more than 700 cities. Keller Williams Realty, which has 80,000 agents in 700 locations across the country, is one example of a client of DotLoop.
Without software like DotLoop buyers and sellers would have to meet in person to get signatures and any changes the attorneys made would require more in-person signing. Through Dotloop.com, buyers and sellers can view the real estate transaction documents on their computer, iPhone or iPad.
The software relies on digital secure electronic signatures, which Allison says enhances the security of the deal because every single activity within the collaborative workspace is tracked and archived. Before a user signs a document he or she must go through an authentication process. The first time the user clicks on the paperwork the systems creates a password for the electronic signature. That password is used to verify the identity of the person every time he or she clicks on the button where they are required to sign. “These electronic signatures are legal and enforceable,” says Allison. “It’s utilized in almost every industry.” Traditionally with a real estate transaction there is a lot of back and forth and markups all over the documents, leaving them ineligible and open to interpretation. “This system cleans up from a security perspective.”
The software is free for buyers and sellers leaving the real estate agent footing the bill. Real estate agents can invite the other agent into the loop, giving the agent access to the documentation for free. Allison noted that most real estate agents pay $20 a month for the software.
For real estate agents, Allison says the software enables them to get a transaction completed faster and at the same time provide more security and transparency. He says all the parties on the deal can save 20 to 40 hours on each closing using his software.
DotLoop isn’t the only company aiming to streamline the real estate process, but according to Allison, there aren’t any companies that solve the major problem of speeding up the signing process. “There’s companies that let you sign digital documents, companies that allow you to create documents and companies that allow you to manage the documents,” says Allison. “The other technology fails to solve the large problems in real estate which is why these technologies have been out there but none have gained adoption,” he says.