by Belinda Schuster, CCIM, NWI Commercial Real Estate
We live in an age of Electronic Communications and digital systems that are gradually replacing old systems of paper and file cabinets. The digital systems are increasing efficiencies and convenience; it also comes with a new set of standards, guidelines, and procedures. Today the bulk of communications happens between Real Estate agents and their clients through text and e-mail
Brokers and clients are now negotiating provisions that might end up in a contract, over electronic means. In the past, this was done over the phone. Brokerage firms must address through written policy how to save these electronic records to ensure that they are not lost.
There are risks involved when negotiating via email and especially text messages. The problem is that the communication is often relatively informal, and does not constitute a contract. We are used to sending quick text messages to our friends and family who understand our messages in a certain way. However, with clients or other agents, there is a risk of saying something that is taken the wrong way or even worse, sending a text message to the wrong party. What might be at risk is accidentally revealing a client’s confidential information. You cannot ask someone to UNsee a client’s information once a message is sent.
Guidelines in place are Emails and text messages may be filed in paper form or electronic form. For firms that prefer paper files, the text message or email may be printed and filed along with the other documents of the transaction
If firms choose to operate under a “paperless” system, the agent can save or transfer every text message or email to a database or cloud system, which will store it safely.
The use of texts and emails are up to the broker who creates the policy. Emails and texts records must be securely filed, in the event of a dispute, and are part of a company’s risk management. Emails and text records are also, part of a developing area in case law.
This article is part of series “How Technology has impacted Commercial Real Estate”. My next articles will be on Electronic Signatures and Tools to Keep Emails and Text Messages Secure.
Belinda D Schuster, CCIM, License IN #14041809 NWI Commercial Real Estate, 158 S Napoleon, Suite 106, Valparaiso, IN 46383, www.nwicre.com