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A Guide to Electronic Document Signing in Real Estate

By Mike Wheatley | May 2, 2022

The offer-signing process has traditionally been a slow, cumbersome process. From using a wet signature page to having to type the contract back and forth, getting an accepted offer signed can easily take up a lot of time. With electronic signatures, everything is much simpler, faster, and more secure, especially in mortgage closing.

Electronic document signing is transforming the business of buying and selling homes. Over the last several years, many real estate professionals and platforms have come to rely on electronic signature platforms, such as DocuSign, to facilitate the process.

But how does it all work? What are the benefits compared to the ink signature? Is it legally recognized? We answer some of the most frequently asked questions about e-signature in real estate.

What is an electronic signature and what are its advantages?

The real estate industry has long relied on signatures to complete transactions. Whether it's signing a contract or closing documents, real estate deals often require a physical signature.

With the advent of electronic document signing or eSignature, it's now possible to complete real estate transactions entirely online. eSignature is the digital equivalent of an ink signature on paper, and it offers a number of advantages over traditional signatures.

For one, eSignature is more convenient, as it can be completed from anywhere in the world. Additionally, eSignature is more secure, as it provides a log of when and where the document was signed. Finally, eSignature is more efficient, as it eliminates the need to mail or fax documents back and forth. For all these reasons, eSignature is becoming increasingly popular in the real estate industry.

How does electronic document signing work?

There are several options under the Electronic Signature umbrella such as:

  • Signing a document by typing in your name and some other identifying data, such as your ID number
  • Signing a digital document with your actual signature via a stylus, or by using your finger on a touchscreen
  • Signing with credentials, which might require biometrics, password entry or encryption and coordination with a verified Trust Service Provider (TSP).

It is recommended that businesses utilize the last option in matters such as contracts, which can involve compliance issues.

Best Trust Service Provider for Real Estate

A trust service provider is a person or entity that issues and preserves digital certificates to create and validate electronic signatures, authenticate the signer, and authenticate websites in general.

For realtors who are members of the National Association of REALTORS, it is important to note that DocuSign is the eSIGN provider for its REALTOR Benefits program.

Other platforms that offer e-signatures that will be helpful for real-estate includes:

Are e-signatures legally binding?

On June 30, 2000 the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act) was signed into law o help implement the adoption of e-signatures as legally binding. as well as the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), which has been adopted by 47 states.

In the real estate industry, the National Association of REALTORS supported the "E-Sign Act of 2000" which makes electronic signatures legal as valid as handwritten signatures. This would cut paperwork and speed up real estate transactions, while still maintaining its legal integrity.

Final Thoughts

The trend towards e-signatures isn't slowing down anytime soon, as more and more real estate agents and vendors jump on board to simplify the process. Whether you are a real estate broker using DocuSign as a tool in your day-to-day home buyer document preparation or a homebuyer prepared to spend extra time in the closing room, now is a good time to know what e-signatures mean for the future of real estate transactions.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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