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RISMEDIA, April 23, 2010—a la mode, Inc., announced that its SureDocs e-signature system, which has already been used for nearly four million mortgage document signing events, is being broadened to include market-specific versions for appraisers and real estate agents.

More than 100,000 professionals in the mortgage, finance, agent, appraisal and inspection fields currently utilize a la mode’s desktop and server-side applications to complete various aspects of nearly 50% of all real estate transactions.

The deployment of appraisal and agent versions of SureDocs, on the heels of FHA’s confirmation that it now considers e-signatures on third party non-lender documents to be just as valid as previous “wet ink” paper signatures, is a huge step forward in truly creating paperless loans with all of the documents being “first generation” electronic files.

As Dave Biggers, a la mode’s chairman noted, “Many of the supposedly paperless loan files out there are full of scanned copies of traditional paper documents. That’s both environmentally and financially expensive. With SureDocs, signatures are applied on screen to purely digital documents, which don’t need to be printed unless the user needs it. It’s better all around.”

As an added improvement over old analog processes, the identity of those signing the documents is independently verified and the document custody chain is tracked and documented using an audit file hosted on a la mode’s servers. Any attempt at forging identities, or making fraudulent changes to appraisals, contracts, property condition disclosures, loan files, or any other SureDocs-signed document, is easily tracked and verified using a secure Web browser. Documents are also transmitted to parties using secure GLB-compliant multi-layer protocols.

SureDocs for Appraisers
SureDocs for Appraisers has already been released, with a version directly embedded at no charge into the company’s new TOTAL 2010 formfilling system. A standalone version compatible with competing forms products is on the way as well.

The impact of SureDocs on the appraisal industry is expected to be significant. a la mode’s formfilling products are used by over 50% of all appraisers nationwide, and a la mode’s Mercury Network backbone forms the platform on which the vast majority of appraisals are ordered, managed, or transmitted between lenders, appraisers and AMCs.

Appraisers have been vocal about anti-fraud efforts for years, especially as XML-based data delivery has become the norm and Fannie Mae’s Collateral Data Delivery initiative looms on the horizon. XML versions of an appraisal are easily manipulated and then reprinted with the appraiser’s simple “picture” signature intact, so an investor could be unaware that key data in the report has been altered or removed entirely.

With SureDocs, PDF appraisals can be transmitted, together with the full XML data, without increasing the risk of mortgage fraud. SureDocs stores a “digital fingerprint” of the PDF files on its verification servers, so auditors can authenticate the version they have versus the original and instantly detect any unauthorized changes. The PDF contains notices to that effect, and each signature imprint contains a serial number unique to that document. Capturing and then re-using a true e-signature on a modified document becomes impractical as a result.

SureDocs for Agents
Many of a la mode’s users of SureDocs have actually turned out to be real estate agents who are using the mortgage product for contracts and disclosures. Making a dedicated agent version was a natural next step. SureDocs’ flexible print driver architecture means that any type of document, regardless of industry or source, can be “printed” from any application to the SureDocs application, and immediately displayed on screen ready for signing or transmission.

As documents are printed to the SureDocs engine, it learns the formats and recognizes them on subsequent uses. So, a contract from a given board or a particular state disclosure form only has to be set up for signature tags one time. The next time the same type of document is sent to SureDocs, it knows where all the signature tags need to be.

Local boards can “train” SureDocs to handle their entire library of hundreds of pre-designed forms in a single day. Plus, the custom Microsoft Word documents often utilized by individual brokers for specialized cases are just as easily set up on-the-fly. If a file can be printed to a PDF, it can be set up as a recognized document by SureDocs.

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