Real estate eSignatures 101: everything you need to know
Consumers today live in a world where they can access entertainment and healthcare, get takeout, and even buy groceries with a simple click on their device. It makes sense that they’ve come to expect the same hassle-free standard in everything they do, including in their real estate transactions.
The trend toward digitalization has been clear for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic put it into hyperdrive. Contact-free options for everything went from being nice-to-have to an absolute must. The real estate industry was no exception – the customer journey in real estate also has gone digital. And when 97% of home buyers are searching online, open houses are virtual, and interior design happens in an app, paper contracts seem just a small step above stone tablets.
Customers expect better. So, if you’re still meeting clients with clipboards and binders, it may be time for an update.
Standard PDFs won’t do the trick
Even if you’re using PDF forms rather than paper, you’re not home free. A basic PDF doesn’t solve any of the key limitations of paper–it’s basically paper on a screen. It isn’t mobile-friendly or flexible, it isn’t inherently secure, and it doesn’t include any real-time feedback or validation.
PDFs are labor-intensive as well. Transferring the information from a standard PDF into a usable digital format can require hours of manual data entry or complicated workarounds. Depending on the type of PDF you’re using, you might even need to utilize optical character recognition (OCR) and parsing technology to extract the information you need. That’s why rather than simplifying processes, standard PDFs often make them more complex, and even more expensive.
Take the first step
Digital transformations don’t happen overnight, and if you’re like most real estate agents, you may not have a lot of resources at your disposal to invest in the process. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting started–the most important thing is to take the first step.
Real estate eSignatures can be a great place to start building a digital customer journey in real estate. Since real estate transactions are notoriously heavy on paperwork, it can be a real barrier for clients, especially the younger GenZers who are starting to enter the market.
By transferring to electronic signature real estate contracts instead of paper documents, you can make the paperwork a lot less painful–both for you and your clients. But how do you implement eSignatures? What is the best electronic signature for real estate? We’ve broken it all down for you, so keep reading.
Types of real estate eSignatures
The first thing to decide is what type of real estate eSignature you need for every document and contract. The European Union's eIDAS regulation defines 3 main types of eSignatures:
- Simple (or basic) electronic signatures
- Advanced electronic signatures
- Qualified electronic signatures
The key difference between them is the security level: the simple electronic signature is the least secure of the three, and the qualified electronic signature is the most secure.
In the United States, there are several industry-specific laws about electronic signatures rather than one set of laws that apply to all industries. However, there are 4 basic tenets that determine the legality of an eSignature, including:
- Signatory intent: Clear evidence that the signatory intended to sign his/her name to a document.
- Consent to sign electronically: Both parties to a contract/document must clearly express their consent to sign digitally.
- An accurate corresponding record: The platform used for any eSignature must keep a record associated with the signature that can demonstrate the process by which the signature was created.
- Record retention: The record of an electronic signature must be accurately reproduced and available to any party entitled to the data.
If an eSignature follows the guidelines, in most cases it will be considered legally binding in the United States. Learn more about types of eSignatures.
EasySign includes various levels of electronic signatures that follow the above tenets and legal requirements. The tool makes it simple to review, eSign, and send any legally-binding form, claim, or contract. The platform also makes it easy to understand what type of eSignature you need for every document in your real estate practice. And, if you decide that you want to expand your digital customer journey, that’s easy as well. EasySend’s real estate eSignature tool is part of a powerful suite of digital transformation solutions designed to meet the needs of the real estate industry.
Benefits of electronic signature real estate contracts
Still not sure? Let’s look at 5 key benefits of using a real estate eSignature tool.
Get things done faster and more efficiently
Physical paperwork slows things down, big time. Let’s face it–no matter how organized you are, sorting through piles of paper is very time consuming. No filing system, no matter how good it is, is going to allow you to access the information you need as fast as a computer can. And when you’re trying to land a client, that data can be critical.
It’s not only filing either. Physical papers need to be collected and data needs to be manually entered into databases–very labor-intensive. If you outsource, it can get expensive. If you don’t outsource, the time you and your colleagues spend doing those tasks could be better spent drumming up new business. Going digital, especially using a streamlined platform, makes it effortless and much more efficient.
Improve customer experience
And what about your clients? They have to take time out of their busy schedules to bring paperwork to your office, or to come to your office to sign contracts that require physical presence. That means coordinating schedules and setting aside valuable work hours–something not every client can or wants to do.
EasySign can transform any clunky form into a seamless digital client experience. And real estate eSignatures often eliminate the need for physical presence when signing contracts. Your clients can sign whenever, and wherever they want, minimizing friction and reducing the chances that they’ll decide to opt out of the process. You can even set up forms so that fields are automatically filled with data about the customer that you already have in the system. Your customers will appreciate not having to fill in the same information again and again on every form, and are likely to remain more engaged and positive about the entire process.
Minimize human error and improve accuracy
“To err is human”, says the proverb. No matter how professionally competent you are, chances are, you’ll make mistakes every so often. With your clients, who aren’t real estate professionals and may be encountering property contracts and forms for the first time, the chances of mistakes happening are even higher.
In the high stakes world of real estate, those mistakes could be costly. So, why take the risk of an incorrect filing or invalid contract? With real estate eSignatures like EasySign, automatic validation rules make sure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed, in every form or contract you use. They make the process easier and less stressful for your clients, and you can rest easy with the peace of mind that everything has been done correctly.
Even if you use strict security procedures and are careful to lock your valuable documents in a secure file cabinet, there is really no way to keep physical documents completely safe. Things like fires, theft, flooding are always a risk, and there is no way to ensure that documents won’t be damaged. But when files are digitized and backed up on secure servers, you’re adding a level of security that simply isn’t available for physical documents or for scanned documents sent by email. It’s not only physical risks either. Electronic signatures can reduce fraud by making it difficult for someone to copy and paste an electronic signature from one document to another.
Yet digital threats and legal requirements for digital document security are updated frequently and it can be tough to stay on top of them on your own. EasySign’s electronic signature tool makes it simple. The tool is compliant with GDPR, SOC 2, ISO 27001, PCI DSS, and HIPAA and updated whenever necessary. And that’s not all–our Audit Trail capability lets you log and track any action taken on any digital journey and review it as a sealed, legally-binding PDF.
We’re all responsible for our planet and for doing our part to improve sustainability in our daily practices. If your office is full of piles of paper, imagine the forests that were destroyed to produce all that paper. Paperless transactions significantly reduce the amount of environmental waste created in the world and by going paperless, you’re helping to save those majestic, carbon-neutralizing forests. And your desk will be neater too….
It’s never been easier to do your job better
Here at EasySend, we believe in the benefits of digitizing the customer journey and want to make it easier for real estate agents to make the transition. By offering EasySign, the best electronic signature for real estate, we’re making it absolutely painless.
Esignature solutions can make it easier to finalize all kinds of real estate agreements:
- Property information forms
- Buyers/Agent agreement forms
- Mortgage calculators
- Buyers' questionnaire
- Mortgage applications
- Commercial rental agreements
Learn more about EasySign.