In the past 10 years, technology has revamped every area of the real estate industry. The public sees this most readily in websites and virtual tours, and other modern marketing tools. However, it’s also taken hold of the behind-the-scenes portion of real estate, and has made the handling of paperwork easier for home buyers and sellers.
We’ve seen it oftentimes – an out-of-state buyer comes to Wilmington on a weekend trip to view houses. After leaving, they decide to put an offer in on one of the homes they viewed. In the past, this would have required typing up the paperwork and faxing or mailing the offer to the buyer, who would sign it and send it back. This could take considerable time, especially if the buyer didn’t have a fax machine or the paperwork got lost in the mail. In today’s real estate market, where homes are going under contract just days after being listed, delays in submitting signed offers can be costly.
Similar can be said for out-of-state sellers or sellers with strict work schedules. It’s not always possible to meet in person to sign the listing paperwork or pending contracts. This means sellers often face the same obstacles as buyers.
Nowadays, real estate agents can type up the offer paperwork and send it over email. Of course, this requires the buyer or seller to print off the paperwork, sign it, scan it, and email it back, and not everyone has the printer/scanner to do that, so they have to go to Staples, Kinkos, or the like to make it happen. If they’re located in a rural area, that can be just a much a hindrance as a fax machine or mail.
Luckily, electronic signature services such as Docusign and Dotloop now exist. These programs give clients the ability to sign and fill-out paperwork right on their screen. There’s no printing, scanning, faxing, etc. All clients are required to do is have an email address and it even works on mobile devices.
How does it work? Each service is a little different, but, basically, clients receive an email notifying them that they need to sign a document(s). They click a link in the email, choose a signature style, and then are walked through “signing”, including initialing, check marking boxes, and filling in text boxes as needed. Most actions require just a click to complete and each signature/initial is digitally secured. After all the paperwork is signed, they can choose to create an account, so they can retrieve the paperwork later on, but aren’t required to do so.
It’s important to note that electronic signatures aren’t always allowed. Short sales and bank owned homes usually require “wet ink” or hand signed paperwork due to bank policies. In that case, buyers and sellers need to be very prompt on getting paperwork returned, especially when it’s a foreclosure with a 3 day deadline for submitted offers. But, most often, digital services are an acceptable method for signing real estate paperwork.
The Cameron Team provides access to electronic signature services for our clients whenever possible. If you have any questions about buying or selling in the Wilmington area, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.