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Electronic Access Coming for New York Offering Plans

The digital revolution keeps unfolding - bringing with it remarkably easy access to information that once required time-consuming trips to libraries or courthouses.

For anyone interested in the purchase or sale of New York real estate, the latest electronic tool is the availability of offering plans in digital form.

Offering plans are statements of the many rules governing a condominium or a co-op. These descriptions have historically been kept in bulky books. The books are so bulky that the state has had to maintain additional warehouse space upstate in order to store them all.

Now, however, attorney general Eric Schneiderman has announced a new policy of making them available electronically. Prospective home buyers who request an electronic version of offering plans are supposed to be able to receive them on CD-ROM, on DVD, or some other digital form. The change could take effect as early as March 1.

Making information available in digital form does tend to raise privacy concerns. But the state says that offering plan information would be encrypted so that it could not be altered. The information would include not only the original offering plan, but also any amendments to it.

The AG's office seeks to make the entire catalog of offering plans available in digital form. In the future, real estate lawyers may be able to file these offering plans electronically.

Producing digital offering plans will require an initial investment in optical character recognition software. But the hope is that it will produce cost efficiencies going forward.

Source: "Offering Plans to Read on Your PC," New York Times, 1-27-12

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