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State, national Realtor groups expect full online homebuying within a year

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The ability to track and complete residential real estate transactions in San Diego County and throughout the state will be keyboard-friendly in the first half of next year.

The program is being developed jointly by the California Association of Realtors and the National Associations of Realtors. The service will be available to Realtors who subscribe.

The paperless transaction service will be available through Real Estate Business Technologies LLC, (REBT) a company that was formed two weeks ago. REBT is a subsidiary of C.A.R.

C.A.R. is 70 percent of the partnership and NAR is 30 percent, said Dale Stinton, NAR chief financial officer and chief information officer. The NAR invested $1.2 million in the venture.

The new company's first board meeting is Dec. 1, Stinton said.

The program, referred to as a transaction management platform, also known as transaction management services, boils down to one-stop-shopping online.

The terms refer to combining services that pull together the major components of a real estate transaction, according to Stinton.

"In a nutshell, we're trying to piece together all the major pieces of the real estate transaction electronically so that it can be done much easier," he said.

He estimated the service will be available to Realtor subscribers between nine months to one year from now.

"We've actually been talking about this as one of our strategic planning items for at least a half dozen years," Stinton said.

Once a buyer or seller enters an agreement with a REBT member, the agent will provide access to the system. The buyer or seller will register by creating a private user name and password, which will allow access to the appropriate transaction documents.

The service isn't replacing the personal relationship a buyer or seller builds with his or her agent, but supplements it, said Josh Sharfman, CEO of REBT.

The service gives the consumer immediate access, 24/7, to the transaction, including to a timeline that shows deadlines for contingencies. In addition to seeing the status of the transaction, the program makes it more transparent for the consumer.

"It should contribute to a successful close of the transaction itself," Sharfman said. Transactions may fail when a detail falls through a crack or a deadline is missed.

Today, the offline transaction process is the same, except that documents are paper and are faxed or delivered by couriers. This takes longer than online transactions.

The subscription cost hasn't yet been determined, he said.

Although transaction opportunities are available online though lending or title companies, C.A.R. forms, known as WINForms, aren't available.

"What is unique about this offering is this is not a (private) venture," Sharfman said. "We are creating a solution owned by Realtors, and Realtor shareholders and stakeholders. We exist solely to service our membership -- in that regard, we are a Switzerland or neutral -- a neutral playing field for our members."

The new company is accepting charter subscribers, who will have access to the system before it's available to other subscribers. Those who join the charter group will have the opportunity to influence the program's development, Sharfman said.

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