The biggest myth of the 1970’s was that by the year 2000, we would become a paperless society!

Real Estate Agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers

What happened to the paperless society?As the 1970’s brought both environmental awareness and exponential technological growth, many pundits predicted that by the year 2000 we would become a paperless society.

Obviously, something went awry somewhere.

When I started selling real estate in 1984, a purchase and sale agreement was a single sheet of paper. It contained all of the essential elements: legal description of the property, method of payment, earnest money deposit and seller’s concessions.

The only dates indicated were the date of the contract and the date of closing. And that seemed to work for everyone and we closed on a lot of houses.

Fast forward to the year 2010. After three decades of consumerism, some purchase and sale agreements exceed thirty pages. We did one that was over fifty. The expected “paperless” society has not materialized. Instead, we are buried under piles of printed legalese and conditions.

And as time goes on, it’s only going to get worse. Every lawsuit results in a new updated contract form or a new addendum. The days of “caveat emptor” are long gone.

And we have the paperwork to prove it!


Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Donald Bradbury 07/31/2010 08:45 PM
  2. Chris Webster 08/01/2010 02:59 AM
  3. Patricia Aulson 08/01/2010 09:45 PM
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Gregory Bain
Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance - Little Egg Harbor, NJ

I thought they said we would not need to use sugar or butter and we would get all our energy from nuclear fisson and the sun. Next stop was a man on Mars.

July 31, 2010 05:03 PM #48
Michael Thornton
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspector - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.0297

Richard, I kinda sorta remember that too. Oh well, at least we are partially paperless...

July 31, 2010 05:04 PM #49
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

One place I hope we never go paperless...the Bathroom.

July 31, 2010 05:07 PM #50
Corinne Guest
Barrington Realty Company - Barrington, IL
Barrington's Country Suburban Home Matchmaker

At least with email we can scan and send pdf files to everyone involved in a transaction otherwise we would be killing a tree for every home sale.

July 31, 2010 05:22 PM #51
Karen Bernetti
Staging4Smooth Transitions Connecticut Home Staging - Southington, CT

Computers and technology were supposed to make our lives EASIER and give us more free time ... that didn't happen either. 

July 31, 2010 06:02 PM #52
Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh
Century 21 New Millennium - Upper Marlboro, MD
A doctor who makes house calls.

I always marvel at how many papers an offer can consume.  Factor clients who make multiple offers before they ever get accepted and you realize what a waste this all is.

July 31, 2010 06:54 PM #53
Richie Alan Naggar Author PEARLS SERIES of books
People first then business! Ran Right Realty Riverside, Ca - Riverside, CA
on LIFE and LOVE plus Real Estate too!


Thanks for bringing that up...I remember something about it now. I think shortly after that, rumors abounded about us becoming a cashless society in the near future too.. Richqrd.....You would think email and texting would significantly reduce paper usage by now.....And my neighbor Stacy makes a good point......all that paperwork that goes in with multiple offers......whew...

July 31, 2010 07:41 PM #54
Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

Paperless would be SO easy to go to.  We could use e-signatures and save all documents on our computers, burn a disk for the file and be done with it. 

I was impressed at a closing I had this week....the closing Attorney typically gives the buyer the HUGE stack of papers they sign...this Attorney put it all on a disk for them.  

July 31, 2010 07:48 PM #55
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

I too went to a closing last month where we were given a disk.   Maybe this is the way it will be everywhere in the near future.  Paperless is an interesting concept for sure.  It would be wonderful to save the trees.... I absolutely love trees of any kind and would  hate to see them become extinct one day...

Patricia/ Seacoast NH

July 31, 2010 08:45 PM #56
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

I thought the biggest myth of the 1970s was that the Earth was cooling... 

And I am doing everything I can to be paperless...

July 31, 2010 08:49 PM #57
Cameron Wilson
Labrum Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
The Short Guy - Murrieta,Temecula,Menifee California

Today we can only fit about 6 files into the boxes we put into storage to comply with state law on records. I liked the old days in this respect.

July 31, 2010 09:16 PM #58
Paula Swayne
Dunnigan, Realtors, Sacramento (916) 425-9715 - Sacramento, CA
Realtor-Land Park, East Sac & Curtis Park -Dunniga

Hi Richard!
My 96 year old prior broker showed me a listing contract that was half a page long...I want those days back!!!!

July 31, 2010 11:04 PM #59
Robert Slick
Beach and River Homes - Georgetown, SC

I think paperless is what you make it. Buying Adobe acrobat and using e fax, email really help a lot. I often do entire transactions without printing a page.

July 31, 2010 11:12 PM #60
Ted J. Macy
Top Agents Atlanta Metro - Milton, GA

Computers just produce paper quicker than we use to be able to produce paper with typewriters!!!

July 31, 2010 11:17 PM #61
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Richard -- Great post.  Perhaps the new millenium will be the end date for the end of paper?  I would bet on that one cause I won't be here for the fallout! LOL

July 31, 2010 11:53 PM #62
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - Fleming Island, FL
Your Fleming Island Relocation Agents.

Richard, our contracts change every few months to a year and we keep adding new addenda that I can hardly keep up with! Paperless? Not hardly!

July 31, 2010 11:57 PM #63


I got in during the early 80's. Our forms were 6 copies of NCR paper; one page. Today a common contract is 15 pages. Ah, lawyers.

August 01, 2010 12:23 AM #64
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass


You make a great point. I have heard so much over the years about all of our transactions becoming "paperless", yet it has not actually happened. They seem to have grown in paperwork.

I have never seen a one-page purchase and sale agreement. That was either before my time or maybe Massachusetts has always had longer contracts.


August 01, 2010 07:39 AM #65
Michael Setunsky
Michael's Commercial LLC - Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Richard, I remember those days when a listing agreement was also one page. Today the file folders seem to get bigger and bigger. I don't think we will ever be able to do away with paper.

August 01, 2010 10:12 AM #66
Darrell Walters
W. Darrell Walters - Newnan, GA

It's interesting to me that the Paperwork Reduction Act has added a lot more pages to the overall process.

August 01, 2010 03:05 PM #67
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