There has been a lot of talk about how to keep real estate transactions safe if they continue to take place in a digital space rather than a physical one. While we’ve already become accustomed to sending and signing forms electronically, the next phase is all about making sure every step of the process is protected. This is where “tokens” come into play.
We already use tokens in several forms as part of many digital interactions, including online banking. If you ever look at your bank statements online, you’ll notice that every transaction has a long number attached to it. This number distinguishes the transaction from any other, even if they have the same payee and amount. That number, in digital lingo, is called a token. You can also think of this string of numbers as a key or digital stamp that proves that the transaction is unique.
This same concept of using tokens to track each individual transaction is likely to work its way into real estate, but with a slight twist. Instead of tracking the flow of money, tokens will be used as a way to track the paperwork that flows back and forth during a negotiation. Tokens can also be used to protect an agent’s online marketing presence, which can be especially important when identifying who represents a listing.
When dealing with the paperwork associated with contract negotiations, document tokens can be used to save signed contracts. If any disputes arise along the way, there’s clear proof as to the version that was used to finalize the transaction. A document token can also be used for documents that support the chain of title if the true owner of a home, or a deceased’s will, is ever questioned.
The concept of a token begins to evolve on the marketing side of things, though the premise is still the same. An agent can create digital marketing assets that are secured on a document token so that it becomes clear who has ownership of the document, and by extension, the information contained in the document. It also opens an opportunity to explore new ways of using documents to market ourselves and our listings.
Currently, we all rely on a mix of websites, newsletters, social media and other platforms to disseminate information in bite-sized chunks. These outlets all have our company branding, so audiences can be reasonably assured that the site isn’t run by an imposter. But our industry’s future will be more successful if we have a way to convey larger amounts of information all in the same place. One way to achieve this goal is to turn to digital paperwork that has digital security backing it up so that clients know they can trust the source.
Allen Alishahi is president of ShelterZoom, the technology company behind DocuWalk. For more information, please visit www.docuwalk.com.