Ontario home buyers and sellers will soon be allowed to provide electronic signatures on real estate documents.

Changes to the Electronic Commerce Act take effect July 1, making electronic signatures legally equivalent to handwritten ones in real estate deals.

Current regulations require real estate documents, such as agreements of purchase and sale, to be signed by hand on hard copies.

Patricia Verge, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association, calls the changes to the act "great news for realtors as well as consumers," and says the option to sign electronically will make home-buying and selling more efficient.

Five other provinces, including Quebec, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, allow electronic signatures for real estate transactions.