paperless real estate transaction management

Real estate agents and brokers know that having a paperless transaction management program is a must-have to remain competitive, compliant and become more productive. But there’s another huge benefit to a paperless real estate transaction that is often overlooked: it’s remarkably Earth-friendly.

Being more eco-friendly remains important to a vast majority of Americans. In fact, 79% of Americans “agree that they consider themselves an environmentally conscious person,” while only 6 percent strongly disagree, according to a Harris Poll conducted last year.

The impact of paper
Consider for a moment, the amount of paper the average real estate agent handles during a single typical transaction, from the marketing materials and often hardcopy of a CMA at a listing presentation, to the contract, addendums, title, appraisal and documents at the closing table, the stack of paper would likely be as thick as an old telephone book for a major city!

Now think about the fact that there are typically 5-6 million new and existing homes sales each year, and the fact that the typical sales transaction still provides multiple sets of paper documents for all the parties involved, and we are talking a huge negative impact on our environment.

Now according to experts, it takes a little more than half a tree to make 10 reams of 100 percent, non-recycled 20-lb. copier paper. One ream of 500 sheets of paper uses about 6 percent of a tree. The bottom line is that if every real estate agent went paperless, we could potentially save millions of trees each year.

But the positive impact on our environment is even greater when an agent and broker use paperless transaction management. That’s because the amount of energy savings also is huge. To produce one ton of paper, or about 400 reams, it takes more than 11,000 kilowatts of energy: that’s about the same amount of energy the average household uses in 10 months! 

It also takes a lot of water to produce paper. Did you know it could take more than 13 ounces to produce a single sheet of paper? It takes more than 19,000 gallons to produce just a single ton of copy paper. And then there is the impact of waste: 35 percent of all the discarded material in the U.S. is paper and paperboard.

Here’s the biggest conundrum: despite the rapid increase in technology, over the last 20 years, the usage of paper products has more than doubled: increasing from 92 million tons to 208 million tons.

Converting clients
One of the challenges that real estate agents and brokers often point to as a reason why we are not seeing more paperless transactions and e-signings is a resistance from clients who are not comfortable with technology. This is where a conversation about how eco-friendly e-signings can help you win over a client during your paperless transaction management process. When you share with a customer all the ways that eliminating paper benefits the environment – and knowing that most people say they want to be eco-friendly – you may find this is one of the most powerful ways to get customers to set aside their resistance to signing digitally.

That’s because you are offering clients a quid pro quo – if you use esign versus going through a paper-filled process, this is how you will directly help the environment. For Millennials, who are already more likely to be comfortable with a digital transaction, sharing information about how they are helping the Earth can help make them feel good about what they are doing.

We know that transaction management programs, like Form Simplicity that was created for Realtors by Realtors, will eventually be used universally, and that day is getting near. Now is an opportunity for those who have not yet embraced the paperless transaction and secured a paperless transaction management program to commit to going green in 2017. You will not only benefit your business, you will feel good about it, and so will your clients.