By Maria Patterson
As markets continue to heat up across the country, real estate agents vie to be first to the finish line in the race to secure listings and win bids for buyers. The quickening pace of the transaction process combined with a consumer base that now expects to do business in an online environment has made e-signatures an increasingly critical component of real estate success. But buyer beware. Not all e-signature technology is the same. In fact, some can do more harm than good.
The benefits of e-signature technology are clear. According to a recent Ombud research report, e-signature solutions yield, on average, an 80-percent reduction in turnaround time and a $20-per-document savings. The 2013 NAR Member Profile reveals that more than 50 percent of REALTORS® used electronic signatures in the past year, and given the ease, speed, convenience and competitive advantage the technology offers, that adoption rate is only expected to grow.
While the advantages of using e-signatures are indisputable, the challenge for today’s real estate professional is to know the difference among the services provided by e-signature firms. Full transparency of the details of each provider’s program is a must.
Tom Gonser, founder and chief strategy officer at DocuSign, a real estate industry standard for e-signature (and a NAR Member Benefits Partner), advises that brokers and agents become fully informed on exactly what their e-signature provider offers. “For example, how certain are you that your e-signature service complies with state and federal laws, creates enforceable contracts, and protects your data and the data of your clients?,” says Gonser. “For real estate professionals, regulatory compliance is one of the biggest concerns, and you are probably paying a healthy sum for E&O insurance. Despite this, many in the industry turn over the most important aspect of a contract—the signing—to services that may not create legally reliable and defensible contracts.”