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E-signatures now legal for real estate deals

Todd Smith with Sharon Shortt, who was the President of the Quinte District Real Estate Board when she brought the issue of e-signatures forward.

Todd Smith with Sharon Shortt, who was the President of the Quinte District Real Estate Board when she brought the issue of e-signatures forward.

More than three years after first being introduced, Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith’s bill to make electronic signatures on real estate transactions law in Ontario will come into effect July 1, 2015.

First introduced in May 2012, the bill was wiped from the Order Paper when Premier McGuinty prorogued the House and resigned that October. The bill was reintroduced in March of 2013 when it passed second reading and was adopted into the 2013 budget.

“I’ve said all along that this bill couldn’t have happened without the Quinte and District Association of Realtors bringing it to my attention,” Smith said. “It’s a pity that it’s taken three years to finally make it law.”

Under current rules, when a home or property is sold, dozens of hard copy documents such as offers and agreements of sale, must be signed by hand. Allowing these transactions to be signed electronically will also make it easier to send documents electronically and save time for anyone buying or selling property, especially when the two parties are separated by distance.

After passing third reading as a part of the 2013 budget, the section of the Bill dealing with electronic signatures was subject to regulatory review by the Attorney General’s office. The two-year review concluded and electronic signatures will be law in the province effective July 1. Thirty European countries allow for the use of electronic signatures on real estate transactions as do most Canadian provinces and American states.

“We started with electronic signatures, it’s my hope that we’ll be able to convince the government to do the right thing with the ‘Raise a Glass to Ontario’ Act next.”

Smith’s bill to cut red tape for Ontario’s beverage alcohol sector passed second reading in February. The bill amends the Liquor Control Board Act to help wineries, craft distilleries and breweries get better distribution in Ontario restaurants and the LCBO.

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