Craig Franklin Chambers, Attorney at Law

May 1, 2014

Problems with E-Contracts in Real Estate Transactions

Denver Real Estate Law and Family Law Blog. (Vol 1.34) May 2, 2014

By Craig Franklin Chambers Esq.

7851 S. Elati Street #204, Littleton, CO 80120

The Littleton Lawyer

As a Littleton attorney specializing in custody, divorce and real estate law in Denver, The Tech Center, Littleton, Englewood, Roxborough Park, and Highlands Ranch, I have noticed many changes in the real estate business in the last few years. One change is the widespread use of CTM e-contracts and similar digital contracts.

These forms are the standard Colorado Real Estate Commission contracts for all Colorado real estate transactions including residential, income, land, and commercial properties and all of the related forms. But instead of meeting the client with a paper version of the forms, the real estate broker emails the client the forms and the client agrees to the terms of CTM, chooses an electronic font, or signs with a mouse, and signs the documents with an electronic signature. The document remains in a cloud on the internet for signature and review by the parties at any time.

Realtors pay for this service, and most realtors love it for its speed and convenience. Sounds great, right? You can present and consummate a real estate deal entirely over the internet.

But as both a real estate attorney and a real estate broker with over thirty years experience, I have several concerns with these e-contracts.

First, as a trial lawyer I am familiar with the rules of evidence, and electronically signed contracts with a chosen "font" may or may not be binding. Electronic signatures are required in some types of legal cases but in the world of law and rules and forms, a paper copy with an original signatures is required to be maintained for every electronic pleading in the court system. Also, like all things on the internet, electronic digital signatures may be subject to alteration and fraud.

Another concern is that not all buyers are equally sophisticated. I have found it is part of my job to make sure a client understands the terms of the documents he is signing. Sometimes small problems can escalate in a real estate deal and many of these problems could be avoided if the parties were more careful in drafting the real estate offer.

I think most people appreciate the time, concern and professionalism it takes to meet and go over at least the first real estate contract word for word.

My last concern is that an industry such as residential real estate brokerage sales which is traditionally a very personalized service business is already becoming too impersonal. Sellers are already able to determine the value of their home on the internet, and prospective buyers can easily find homes to view on the internet as well.

If the purchase of real estate becomes impersonal, the value of the real estate broker diminishes even further. I suppose change is inevitable in the real estate business, as in all business, but from my experience something is lost every time something is gained.

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    Denver Real Estate and Family Law Attorney
    Licensed to practice law in Colorado since 1997, I have a B.A. from Vanderbilt University and a law degree from the University of Denver.

    7851 S. Elati St. #101 Littleton, CO. 80120

    303-972-2552

    craig@craigchamberslaw.com