“Can you even remember a time when you took out your credit card to pay for something and the vendor retrieved an imprinting machine loaded with carbon copy paper to produce a form for you to sign,” Brad Newton, Vice President of DocuSign APAC, said. “Chances are, these days you tap your card or use it to pay for something online. It’s effortless.”
“This is what eSignature technology is doing for real estate today. It’s completely modernising the way agencies and their clients come to agreement, and is making it far more efficient.”
By allowing agents to make the forms they’ve been mailing back and forward for more than 20 years accessible and signable in a click via email, eSignatures are revolutionising the client experience.
“Asking a vendor to sign an agency agreement on their mobile phone from the side of a footy pitch during their kid’s Saturday game is a whole different ball game, pun intended, to waiting for them to get back to work on Monday when they will do it when they are finally in front of a computer – if they remember,” Mr Newton said. “Realistically, you’ll need to call them at least twice more.”
This accelerated way of doing business has even the most seasoned of agents eager for a new way. eSignature technology delivers on that promise.
All the same, many are wondering if it’s an easier way? Does it stand up to audit? (There’s nothing quite like a bit of audit anxiety when you’re operating in a highly-regulated environment like real estate.) Do you need a computer science degree to take it on?
Are eSignatures legal?
The Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (Cth), supported by the Electronic Transactions Act 2000 (NSW), sets out that a framework whereby certain documents can be legally signed online rather than on printed paper. This is phenomenal news for real estate businesses, which have been collectively frustrated by the turnaround times and inaccuracy of paper agreements for longer than anyone can remember.
“There’s been a lot of conjecture around electronic signatures and their legality, however they’re legally binding and permissible for most documents,” Mr Newton said. “There’s no greater risk in signing contracts electronically. Actually, it’s safer. It’s easier to alter a page of paper than it is to change an encrypted, tamper-proof, sealed PDF.”
There are numerous cases where people have innocently or otherwise made unagreed amendments to paper documents which go unnoticed. Then there’s the issue of multiple drafts of the same document in circulation, with confusion as to whether the correct version has been signed. eSignature technology reduces the mistakes that may threaten the legally binding nature of a document.“When there’s a legislation change or update your draft agreements within REI Forms Live are automatically updated too, to be compliant,” David Howell from Dynamic Methods, provider of REI Forms Live, explained. “Agents see a big red symbol next to draft forms alerting them that there are legislation-aligned amendments incorporated within the current version.”
“Using DocuSign from within REI Forms Live makes signing agreements infinitely faster and easier. You can put your finger on any agreement at any time, with the added advantage of being able to transfer information from one type of form to another.” – David Howell, Dynamic Methods
Will making the switch require time and effort?
There’s little to no learning curve for executing documents within an online eSignature app. For example, REINSW can provide you with a DocuSign account, or it can be simply ‘switched on’ by clicking on a banner within REI Forms Live.
For Mr Howell, the most compelling reason to take documents online is because it saves time.
“It’s a simple fact that an agent can’t list a property until the agency agreement is in place. Similarly, with property management a signed agreement must be obtained before a property can be let and rental income realised. Delays are like pouring away money,” he said.
Taking agency agreements online is especially appealing for agents operating in rural areas, who stand to save thousands in time and petrol just getting to vendors. Then there’s the time and effort savings that go with storing and retrieving documents online.
“Paper documents require a bunch of admin, including re-keying into office systems and filing in a retrievable way,” Mr Howell pointed out.
“Using DocuSign from within REI Forms Live makes this infinitely faster and easier. You can put your finger on any agreement at any time, with the added advantage of being able to transfer information from one type of form to another – for example, details on a property management agreement to a tenancy agreement. The efficiency and accuracy gains are huge.”
Getting started with eSignatures?
If your core system is REI Forms Live, you have the advantage of being able to click on a banner within your app to activate and purchase DocuSign, and start using eSignatures immediately. Linking DocuSign to REI Forms Live is a great way to ensure you can send and receive forms from inside this environment, as an extension of what you’re already doing.
“The process of sending out a form for signing is very easy,” Mr Howell said. “After finalising it in REI Forms Live, you click on the electronic signing button and walk through the process of adding your signatories. As an agent, you never have to worry about where signatures go – it’s all pre-populated within the forms available to you.”
According to Mr Newton, it couldn’t be easier.
“We are hearing from agents that it’s reassuring to finally be able to see exactly when each signatory has reviewed and added their signature to the form. It’s taking the anxiety away from waiting for forms to come back.”
“eSignature technology is completely modernising the way agencies and their clients come to agreement, and making it far more efficient.” – Brad Newton, DocuSign
Electronic signatures are now available on REI Forms Live with DocuSign
If you’re a current REI Forms Live user, you can sign up for DocuSign directly from within your REI Forms Live account and enjoy a 70% discount from the DocuSign retail price.
Don’t have an REI Forms Live account? You can register in less than 60 seconds by going to reiformslive.com.au.
To find out more, go to reinsw.com.au/docusign