Paperless. I'm sure you've that word echoed around before. The real estate industry is slowly becoming more and more paperless. Real estate brokerages and agents use electronic signature (e-signature) tools, more lenders accept e-signatures by the day, and buyers and sellers alike initial and sign contracts on their computers, tablets and phones. What makes something paperless? And what technology tools are out there to help you achieve this? Some of the main paperless tools that are out are there are services that allow for e-signatures - electronically signing a document without having to print the document out. E-signatures first became known under Congress with the ESIGN (Electronic Signatures in Global and National) Commerce Act. Basically, the Act stated that e-signatures were, and should be considered, just as valid as "wet" signatures.
DocuSign is the first e-signature service that comes to mind, and is used by several Century 21 Redwood Realty real estate agents. DocuSign allows you electronically sign anything on any device, send documents for others to sign, and store documents in a cloud. DocuSign integrates with Google Drive, Dropbox, Box.net and Evernote, along with your camera app, to access the documents.
DotLoop is similar to DocuSign in its abilities - you can electronically sign, send documents for others and store documents in a cloud. What makes DotLoop unique are its "loops" - the initiating person in the transaction invites other people to the loop - and that it also includes a full transactional system. The broker is able to view all documents within the submitted loops to look for compliance issues.
Other e-signature systems that are available to Northern Virginia, Washington DC and Maryland real estate agents are the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' ("MRIS") Authentisign and zipForms' zipLogix Digital Ink which allows for digital signatures within the zipForms system.
The newest kid on the e-signature block is HelloSign. HelloSign is a free service available to be added to your GMail through a Chrome extension, and is also available as an iOs app for iPad and iPhone. Simplistic in its nature, HelloSign provides a quick and easy alternative to the above systems in allowing you to quickly create a signature using your mouse or finger (depending on your device) from your email or the app. HelloSign is working on rolling out paid features as well that will include advanced management and e-signature branding. Currently, the person receiving the email has to be using a supported browser, but plans are in the works to include Firefox and Safari as well soon.
E-signatures aren't just for real estate anymore; they can be used on a number of documents requiring your signature! If you're in the real estate industry, however, paperless isn't the wave of the real estate industry future...it's the now of real estate reality. If you're a real estate agent, you should have an e-signature solution. Whichever e-signature service you choose to use, don't be afraid to start. If you're a buyer or seller looking for an agent, you should choose a real estate company like Century 21 Redwood Realty that encourages and uses e-signatures. Don't be afraid to start going paperless.
(Image taken by Zepfanman.com, Creative Commons Attribution)