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In order to determine if your current or future e-signature provider is the best, most secure choice, consider the following:

 1. Carefully evaluate free or low-cost solutions. Understandably, many real estate professionals use a free or low-cost solution made available through their local association or MLS. But sometimes you really do get what you pay for. Free or low-cost e-signature programs often require you to compromise on other features; however, compromising should not be an option when it comes to compliance and security.
2. Ensure that signatures are tamper proof. Test drive your e-signature service. Try editing a completed and signed document; PDF documents should not be editable. Are documents digitally sealed? Certain e-signature providers do not digitally seal documents meaning that they can be easily changed with commonly available editing software after they have been signed. Worse yet, those documents are not self-reliant, meaning a contract can be changed hours, days, or months later outside the system, and neither you nor your client, nor any third party down the road, will necessarily realize they are looking at a contract that has been altered.
3. How can documents be shared? Certain e-signature providers have vague requirements about how e-signature documents can be shared and with whom. Be sure to understand exactly who sees your documents and what the sharing capabilities are.
4. Consider the mobile applications. Is your e-signature solution effective in the mobile world? According to the Ombud research report, “The consumerization of IT has led end users to expect the ability to accomplish tasks on their mobile device—from anywhere, anytime. As a result, relationships within the entire transaction lifecycle must be considered to maximize the benefits of e-signature and create the best experience for all involved.” If you only do a couple of transactions a year, and your customers are generally not mobile technology users, certain low-cost e-signature options may be fine. Bear in mind, power outages can be a problem without a mobile option.
5. Take a good look at the privacy policy. Certain e-signature providers have a privacy policy that gives them the rights to the content in your account. This means they can access not only your information but that of your clients. Do you really want your clients to receive telemarketing calls because of a service you recommended to them?

Bring these questions and concerns to any e-signature provider you are currently working with…or are considering working with. Given the critical nature of this technology to your business, the tough questions need to be asked. As Gonser says, “Real estate contracts are your livelihood, and you should not settle for any solution that does not provide your business with the maximum in security and compliance.”

 For more information on e-signature safety, please visit www.docusign.com.

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