Of the many game-changing technologies that have revolutionized the real estate industry over the last decade, perhaps none have been as profound as the advent of electronic signatures. Electronic signature platforms bring unparalleled speed and convenience to every step of the transaction by streamlining the process of signing and accepting offers, filling out forms, and verifying contingencies.
Experienced real estate agents know that not all contracts turn into a sale. They fall through. They expire. Someone breaches the contract. Many agents have devoted numerous hours gathering signatures on contracts that may or may not turn into a sale.
Increasingly, and not surprisingly, more and more transactions are being created, negotiated, finalized and executed electronically. From a real estate perspective, virtually all documents other than those that are being recorded are exchanged electronically. But electronic signatures come with their own disadvantages and problems. The same speed that makes e-signatures so convenient can also result in a sense that they are not “real” or that signatories have been somehow rushed through the process. This can result in misunderstandings and even legal liability.
The Benefits of E-Signing
Electronic signatures became so popular so quickly because they offer a number of significant improvements over old-fashioned, real-life signatures. These include:
For real estate agents and brokers, the e-signature technology allows a user to sign a document from virtually anywhere. Since many e-signatures are supported by cloud-based software, documents can be signed from any mobile phone, tablet or laptop, omitting the need to be in an office. This means that while you are busy with showings, meetings or closings, you can simultaneously send important documents to your clients and partners. In turn, your clients and partners are also able to conveniently sign documents and return them to you from any location and any device.
Everyone is so busy these days, so it can be difficult to find time to meet with clients for signatures. With e-signatures, everyone can sign as soon as documents are prepared, then electronically transmitted to the other agent saving time for everyone.
This is especially helpful for you as an agent or broker, since it frees you up to keep the transaction moving while you are on-the-go. In the real estate industry, time is of the essence, and a 10-minute delay in getting a signed offer to a seller could potentially cost your buyer the deal.
● Efficiency and Accuracy
Any agent can tell you about the mountain of incomplete documents that are returned and the countless hours spent duplicating efforts on revised paperwork. E-signature technology can require mandatory information and signed fields, ensuring a document is not submitted unless it is 100 percent complete. In addition, electronic signatures decrease the need for filing or handling paperwork so you can dedicate time to more prominent tasks.
Because e-signature technology is supported by cloud-based software, it can quickly reduce expenses. With e-signatures, you no longer need to consider paper, ink, shipping costs (including envelopes and postage) or additional mileage to deliver documents as part of the budget for document processing.
E-signatures provide additional security features like timestamps, serial numbers, and other elements to ensure the reliability of the signature. When integrated with a transaction management system, they also automatically remove signatures if later changes are made, ensuring that the client’s intention is clear.
Retaining Electronic Records
Real estate brokers and their agents may electronically store documents, such as listing agreements and cancelled checks, to satisfy California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) state recordkeeping rules. To use an electronic format to retain documents, a broker needs to ensure the digital document:
- Accurately reflects the information in the agreement or other document being retained
- Remains accessible for later reference.
For example, brokers and their agents need to retain records of all activities completed on behalf of a client, including trust fund accounting records and disclosure statements, for three years. UETA allows them to satisfy this requirement by storing all related documents in an accessible electronic format.
Storing documents electronically also satisfies any requirement for a document to be provided or retained in its “original form.”
How Can e-Signatures Help Your Real Estate Business?
During the buying process, you know it is imperative to close the deal as quickly as possible. If you typically schedule an in-office appointment to review and sign offer letters, purchase and sale agreements, and closing papers, finding a time that works for both you and your client can be difficult. Not to mention the mountain of paperwork that greets clients when they arrive.
To speed up the process and to improve the home-buying experience all around, provide your clients with electronic signing. No more paperwork to mark, manage, and store, and no more time-constrained, in-office appointments for physical signing.
With most electronic signing software, document tracking is built-in so that you know where each document is in the process. Nothing gets misplaced, home buyers and home sellers are guided with simple instructions, and a document won’t move forward in the signing process without the proper signature or initial.
What Happens at Citrus Heritage Escrow?
During the escrow period, our title department begins researching and examining all historical records pertaining to the subject property. Barring any unusual circumstances, a commitment for title insurance is issued, indicating a clear title or listing any items which must be cleared prior to closing. The commitment is sent to you for review.
Your escrow officer follows instructions on your contract, coordinates deadlines, and gathers all necessary paperwork. For example, written requests for payoff information (called “demands”) are sent to the Seller’s mortgage company and any other lien holders.
When choosing an escrow company there can be many important factors to evaluate. Fees, location, staff and even recommendations from friends and colleagues are all things to consider. With Citrus Heritage Escrow by your side, you can rest assured that when you receive your settlement check, you’ve gained the maximum benefit from your home sale or purchase.
Call us today with any questions or concerns. Our professional Escrow Agents will help you through this exciting yet confusing process. (951) 335-7200