The California Association of Realtors’ (CAR’s) proprietary forms zipLogix software is now integrated with Cartavi. Cartavi is a cloud-based transaction management service that was recently acquired by DocuSign.

Prior to the integration, users had to complete their zipForm, download it and subsequently upload it to Cartavi to complete the transaction. Post integration, CAR members can fill, share, digitally sign and archive their forms in one place — assuming they have access to the internet and the zipLogix servers are running smoothly.

first tuesday insight

Since “integration” is the buzzword here, you may be interested in the affiliations of each of these organizations. Bear with us — it’s a bit convoluted and incestuous.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) holds a 30 percent stake in zipLogix, the producers of zipForm. zipLogix is wholly owned by a subsidiary of CAR, who insists its members be locked into using zipForms as the industry “gold standard.”

Although CAR pitches the use of its forms as a “free” membership benefit  (provided dues are timely paid and membership never lapses), the outrageous increase in CAR membership fees that occurred just after the new millennium coincides perfectly with their implementation of the online forms, then known as WINforms. In fact, it was at the ushering in of the new millennium that forms became CAR’s primary product for extracting revenues from its willing members.

Wait — it gets better.

NAR invested an undisclosed amount in digital signature company, DocuSign, in 2009. Shortly thereafter, DocuSign was integrated into zipForms and sold right back to CAR members at a fee (in addition to their membership dues, naturally). Oh, and remember Cartavi, the “cloud-based” solution? DocuSign acquired them in May, according to Inman News.

Are you getting the antitrust tainted picture yet?

Through these so innocently termed “partnerships,” NAR/CAR is building what is perhaps the greatest monopolistic double dipping scheme in the history of real estate. First we start with the “required” zipForm, which CAR profits from handsomely by building the fee into its already inflated membership dues. After all, CAR owns zipLogix, so this first dip in the agent’s pocket is within reason, save for the sneaky semantics.

Then, once the captive audience is created through the perpetuation of the myth that trade association membership is required to access the MLS, they dip again. This time it’s through DocuSign and its new subsidiary, Cartavi, which appear to the CAR member as a service offered by a privately held company. But, in fact, fees paid by members for these services go directly back into NAR/CAR’s pockets. This business model is like selling someone a beer for three dollars and then charging them another dollar to open it.

What really boggles the mind is why any educated professionals would allow themselves to be so regularly fleeced by the very organization that claims to protect them. Especially in light of the fact that there are others who producer far superior and much less expensive California real estate forms (shameless but accurate plug).

Related articles:

Crash-proof connectivity with first tuesday forms

CAR’s sleight of hand – the stealth meaning of “free”

 Airing CAR’s laundry – dirty forms

Re: “DocuSign and zipLogix Integrate to Streamline the Home Buying Process” from