innovation

Earnest Money Spoils The Online Transaction

by Victor Lund on August 26, 2015

The Inman Connect conference does not often have many brand new ideas. But if you look hard enough, they are there.  A year or so ago I met a company that was focused on transforming home prices to Total Cost Of Living prices (TLC Engine). This year, I met Lynn Leegard who co-founded a company called TrustFunds, with the tag line of Earnest Money Made Easy. Coincidentally, both TLC Engine and TrustFunds are both services offered through NorthstarMLS, based in Minneapolis, MN. Northstar CEO John Mosey seems to have a knack for launching very unique services that solve significant problems in his market. Commute costs, utility costs, and insurance costs play a major role in home ownership in Minneapolis (as is the case in most major cities). The higher price you pay for a home closer to the places you work may be less than what you would pay for a lower priced home that has a further distance to travel to work. TLC Engine runs that equation. It is a great solution. Likewise, TrustFunds is a great solution. Forms, transaction management, and digital signature solutions offered in the Northstar market area are delivered through an online forms and transaction management platform called Instanet. Everything can be done online except the transfer of earnest money, a.k.a. the deposit the buyer puts down on the house with their offer. As a result, agents end up running around picking up and delivering checks even though everything else can happen online. A clever Minneapolis area attorney and REALTOR® came up with a solution. As a REALTOR®, chasing earnest money was painful. Moreover, the security of managing, collecting, and tracking earnest money payments was even more challenging. I think of it as PayPal™ for Real Estate. Using the buyer’s email address, agents generate a request for earnest money to their buyer. They click the link and securely key in their bank routing and account information. From there, the money is transmitted to the proper trust account.  TrustFunds tracks the payments, and notifies everyone involved in the transaction. This is an elegant, simple to understand product that will take our industry the last mile to handle transactions electronically. What do you think? TrustFunds: Lynn Leegard 888-249-1616 x 104, www.trustfunds.us.com Disclosure – NorthstarMLS is a WAV Group Client.

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