DotLoop provides a cloud-based online platform for Toledo’s real estate marketWritten by Kevin Moore | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ten years ago most taxes were still done by filling out endless reams of IRS forms and vacations were booked through travel agents. What a difference a decade can make. When Austin Allison of Cincinnati founded DotLoop in 2009, he sought to bring the digital revolution to the real estate industry. The cloud-based transaction platform was adopted by the Toledo Board of Realtors as the standard system for online real-estate transactions in Toledo in June 2013.
John Mangas, President of the Toledo Board of Realtors and Broker and Co-Owner of RE/MAX Preferred Associates saw that the national real estate market was shifting toward online platforms, and in 2012 he organized and led a task force to investigate the online real estate software available. “We decided we needed to have a platform in place for when this became the norm. We wanted to be in place with a single vendor in the Toledo market. We wanted to avoid the problem of having ten companies using seven different products. That’s seven learning curves! So we looked at the various products out there and settled on DotLoop because DotLoop was the best,” said Mangas.
Using a cloud-based system, DotLoop creates “loops” where buyers, sellers, agents, lenders and title companies share access to the same set of documents and can access, edit and sign them electronically from anywhere in the world.
“Say a couple looks at a house, goes home to talk about it and then give an agent a call saying, ‘We’re in; we want to buy.’ The agent’s first question is ‘Okay, what’s your schedule tomorrow?’ Hopefully, everyone can sit down at the same table quickly, but that can be a serious challenge with people’s work schedules or if they’re out of town,” said Mangas.
DotLoop stores a real estate company’s forms as templates so that an agent on the phone with an interested buyer can create a profile for the buyer, which will then autofill the pertinent information in the necessary documents, and invite the buyer, as well as the seller and any other relevant parties, to join the “loop.” All parties can view the documents, offer addendums or counter offers, and electronically sign the finalized paper work through the cloud in real time. All this can be done from anywhere in the world in just a few minutes with only a phone and a laptop or tablet.
“One of our agents used DotLoop to help a real estate investor from Australia buy thirteen properties in Toledo. The whole transaction took 35 minutes! The investor was in Australia and the agent was at his house. This is a unique example, but it demonstrates what can be done with DotLoop,” said Mangas. “In another instance, we have an agent working on an inheritance case where the client had seven heirs scattered across the country. Can you imagine, even with the convenience of email, trying to get signatures from seven heirs and their spouses on one set of documents? With DotLoop, you just invite everyone to the ‘loop’ and get a notification when everyone updates the documents with their signature.”
In years past, agents had to do a considerable amount of traveling to get physical signatures from clients. The Internet and the availability of email made that process somewhat easier, but to get multiple signatures on one set of documents each party would have to print the document, sign it, scan it and email it back. “No wonder we only sold eight houses a year back then! It was so inefficient. It’s only going to get more efficient as time goes on,” said Mangas. In 2013, RE/MAX led the Toledo market in agent productivity, with agents averaging 26 properties per realtor, and Mangas credits his firm’s enthusiasm about DotLoop for part of that success.
Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of an electronic signature due to security concerns, but Mangas said that electronic signatures are secure and are quickly becoming the norm for real estate and other online transactions. “All parties being invited into a DotLoop transaction need to have a separate email address, and all signatures can either be done with your finger on an iPad or with a generated, timestamped number. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have determined that this is a good security measure.”
Aside from convenience and time savings, the environmental benefits of putting the real estate process online are obvious. RE/MAX has an entire room dedicated to storing boxes filled with two-inch thick folders for their transactions over the last few years. DotLoop’s backup capabilities allow agents to preserve not only the finalized documents but also a complete history of edits and changes made during a document’s lifetime, all of which are stored electronically in DotLoop’s servers. Mangas expects his company to eliminate hundreds of pounds worth of paper consumption a year, not to mention the carbon emission savings from reduced travel meeting clients and collecting signatures.
Mangas describes DotLoop as “a paradigm shift for the next generation of realtors” but, while many agents and customers are quick to adopt the new platform, others prefer more traditional methods. In the view of the Toledo Board of Realtors, there is plenty of room for both in the Toledo market. “We haven’t made any kind of ‘conversion;’ we’ve just made this new online platform available for whoever wants to use it.”
Tags: Austin Allison of Cincinnati, Australia, DotLoop, IRS, John Mangas, President of the Toledo Board of Realtors and Broker and Co-Owner of RE/MAX Preferred Associates, RE/MAX, real estate industry, Toledo Board of Realtors