Electronic signatures are being used more and more often in real estate deals. They are safe and fast. In fact, I have just processed my first contract offer using electronic signatures. I have to say I liked it a lot. At Roger Martin Properties, our client base is heavy on doctors, attorneys and other busy professionals. I expect electronic signatures to be quite popular with them as well.
E-signature technology has been around since 2003, when Congress enacted legislation that made electronic records and signatures legally binding. In the case of a real estate offer, all documents are secured “in the cloud” and completely encrypted so that only the proper individuals can read and sign them. A court-admissible audit trail is created for each document, and every change is logged, dated, and time-stamped. To read up on the legal intricacies of electronic documents, go to www.docusign.com.
In practical terms, this means that we can now eliminate a lot of time spent faxing/emailing offers to multiple parties who sign individual documents. The obvious benefit to our clients is that we can respond more quickly in a competitive bidding environment. And it will be especially useful for international or out-of-town customers.
Be aware, however, that title companies still insist on pen-and-ink signatures on your final closing documents – and then only after first viewing your photo ID. And of course, we can still use paper copies if our clients prefer that method.
But for now, those electronic signatures were really convenient. They made it possible for me to finalize my client’s offer while I waited in line to purchase my sack of dog food!
Note: this article also ran in the Real Estate News column of the Houston Chronicle on February 27, 2011.