Some new developments are coming to pass in the legal world as it relates to real estate. You may or may not know that the province of Ontario was the first jurisdiction in the world to provide electronic registration of land-related documents. In order to enhance the security of the system, the Ontario government's Real Estate Fraud Action Plan has outlined its new Access Requirements. The people who are currently registered to use the system are required to re-register in order to continue to use it. The Ontario Bar Association has been sending fairly regular reminders about this, so it will be interesting to see if any deals are actually delayed because of the transition.
By way of background, the electronic system that will probably be used in your real estate transaction is provided by a company called Teranet - it is through this company that documents are created and modified online on behalf of the vendor and purchaser - no personal attendance at the Land Registry Office and no back-up hand written paper signatures are required. Only authorized people are allowed to access the electronic system. Because of the risks associated with electronic transactions, and a concern about fraud as it relates to real estate, the Real Estate Fraud Action Plan was developed.
It is pretty interesting to hear the old war stories of real estate lawyers and conveyancers as they reminisce about the "old days" before electronic transactions - how they used to drive to the Land Registry Office in Hamilton to close a sale transaction only to have to sprint to Newmarket to make sure the subsequent purchase closed on time. It was apparently very chaotic and one delayed deal could have the domino effect of delaying a bunch of closings. I imagine it like the world before online banking and cell phones. Since I have been a lawyer, approximately 82 percent of land registrations are processed electronically. Personally, I have only been to any Land Registry Office for research. Since I missed the Land Registry Office heyday, I will just have to take comfort in the fact that the Ontario government is making efforts to keep the online tools secure.
The Service Ontario website offers much more detailed information about the system and what the government is doing to protect consumers from real estate fraud.