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

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Richard Weisser Realty

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. D B 07/31/2010 01:45 PM
  2. Christopher Webster 07/31/2010 07:59 PM
  3. Patricia Aulson 08/01/2010 02:45 PM
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Gregory Bain
Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance - Little Egg Harbor, NJ
For Homes on the Jersey Shore

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.

Jul 31, 2010 10:03 AM #48
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

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

Jul 31, 2010 10:04 AM #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.

Jul 31, 2010 10:07 AM #50
Corinne Guest, Managing Broker
Barrington Realty Company - Barrington, IL
Barrington, a Luxury, Country Suburban Lifestyle.

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.

Jul 31, 2010 10:22 AM #51
Karen Bernetti
Southington, CT

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

Jul 31, 2010 11:02 AM #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.

Jul 31, 2010 11:54 AM #53
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author


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...

Jul 31, 2010 12:41 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.  

Jul 31, 2010 12:48 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

Jul 31, 2010 01:45 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...

Jul 31, 2010 01:49 PM #57
Cameron Wilson
Labrum Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
The Short Guy - Murrieta,Temecula,Menifee Californ

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.

Jul 31, 2010 02:16 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!!!!

Jul 31, 2010 04:04 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.

Jul 31, 2010 04:12 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!!!

Jul 31, 2010 04:17 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

Jul 31, 2010 04:53 PM #62
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

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!

Jul 31, 2010 04:57 PM #63
Terry Chenier
Homelife Glenayre Realty - Mission, BC


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.

Jul 31, 2010 05:23 PM #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.


Aug 01, 2010 12:39 AM #65
Michael Setunsky
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.

Aug 01, 2010 03:12 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.

Aug 01, 2010 08:05 AM #67
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