Electronic Signatures Gaining Acceptance

Real Estate Agent with Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.


Q. I want to sell my Crofton home, but I live in California. Will you mail the paperwork to me?  Fax it?

A. Paperwork that required mailing 10 years ago and scanning/emailing just 2 years ago can now be signed and sent electronically. Let me explain…


ComputerYour autograph is no longer necessary on real estate sales contracts, addenda, and other documents used to buy, sell, and lease real estate.  E-signing is the latest item on a long list of technology innovations since I started in this business. I love it!

The e-Sign Act (2000) and Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (1999) made electronic signatures binding, but there are still a few hold-outs in the banking world that won't accept digital signatures. In these situations, many people use electronic signing in their initial negotiations and then follow up with a copy signed the old fashioned way – with pen and paper – after the agreement is complete.

However, FHA is on board (FHA Letter) and so is the National Association of REALTORS (NAR White Paper), as well as many lenders.

Here's how e-signing works:

1. Your agent goes online to an e-signature company (such as Authentisign or Docusign) to create a new signing. The first step is to name the signing, such as “123 Crofton Parkway - Lease.”

2. Your agent will identify each participant in the new signing by entering their name, email address, role in the transaction, and whether they are a signer, reviewer, or copy recipient.

3. The document (or two or three…) will be uploaded by your agent. It's done the same way you add an attachment to email.

4. Your agent will then go through the document to identify each place where a signature or initials are needed. It's a simple “drag and drop” process. If cross-outs or written changes are needed in the document, your agent will do that electronically and create an initial box next to it.

5. After reviewing the document to make sure nothing has been overlooked, your agent will go to the final step – i.e., sending it to you, accompanied by an email message with any comments or instructions.

6. You receive an email containing the document, along with step by step instructions, and submit it for authentication.

7. After your document is authenticated by the e-signature copy, it is forwarded to the next party. Once all parties have signed, the final copy will be sent to anyone identified as a reviewer (such as your agent) and a copy will be delivered to everyone listed in Step 2.

8. Now all parties have an electronic file of the completed document, which you can save as a PDF file and print for a hard copy.

My clients have used electronic signing for leases, listings, contracts, and random follow-up documents such as the home inspection addendum. Obviously it's ideal for people who are out of the area, but even clients who live in the greater Crofton area love the convenience.

Don't be surprised if there's an electronic signature in your future, especially if you buy or sell a home. This ranks right up there with fax machines, cell phones, online listing data, and electronic lock boxes… just a few of the other technology innovations that have made life easier for consumers and real estate agents alike.

Posted by the author to Focus on Crofton on 11/18/11

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This infoMargaret Wodarmation was provided to you by Margaret Woda, an Associate Broker with Long & Foster Real Estate in Crofton Maryland. Contact Margaret today for general real estate information or to learn how she can help you buy or sell a home in Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton, Davidsonville, Gambrills, and Odenton. 

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Erica Ramus 11/21/2011 11:24 AM
  2. Cheryl Ritchie 11/22/2011 01:04 PM
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Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

Thanks for explaining the history of digital signatures.  Like you, I'm a pre-fax Realtor and think digital signature are great time savers.  The only disadvantage is they make it very easy for the client to not read the purchase contract or listing agreement.   So the agent must be sure the client understands what they're signing.

Nov 21, 2011 06:21 AM #9
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Dee - I, too, was leary of them.  ... but I knew they would be necessary to maintain a competitive edge with military relocation.  Now I love it!

Joe - My company and multiple list service both use Authentisign, as well.  So far, so good!

Wayne - I think they should be, at closing,but it will be hard in some circumstances.  I have sellers who are located in Germany and Kuwait... E-Signing has been essential to the paperwork we've done to date.

Cheryl - I haven't used docusign, but I'm sure it works the same as authentisign... and I love it!

Bryan - I would qualify as one of "the older agents" both in birthdates and years in the business.  I think using e-signatures has more to do with having a comfort level with technology than it does with being "old."



Nov 21, 2011 08:36 AM #10
Erick Blackwelder
Cell: 703-677-1120 - Woodbridge, VA
Text or call Erick now at 703-677-1120.

We use digital signatures at one time or another on every transaction.

Nov 21, 2011 08:46 AM #11
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


Brilliant info.  I love how you took us step by step through the process.  I am looking forward to 2012 being the year of electonic signatures in Atlanta.  Don't know why we waited so long.

All the best, Michelle

Nov 21, 2011 09:03 AM #12
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


What would we do without e-signatures?  Fax, mail and email, that's what.  It is essential that we use e-signatures now, they make life a lot easier and you received signed documents much quicker.  I am all for paperless transactions and so are my clients, for the most part.

Nov 21, 2011 10:52 AM #13
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

So far I haven't used them, and no buyers or sellers I've worked with have had any interest in using e- signatures. Seems like most still prefer to read every page, ask questions as they go, and then have a hard copy. Older people especially prefer writing their own name, and many times I need things notarized, so not sure how doc-u-sign would work when the lady I'm getting notarized signatires from is in an assisted living facility or nursing home. I just talked with an older lady in Manassas and she doesn't even have a computer and doesn't use email. I can't see things going 100% paperless, but apparently doc-u-sign and simialr companies have their place.

Nov 21, 2011 11:20 AM #14
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

Margaret-- I have been using these since 2010 and so far we are the only firm doing this in our area. I reblogged.

Nov 21, 2011 11:25 AM #15
Tamara Inzunza
RE/MAX Executives - Alexandria, VA
Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living

What a lifesaver, and a timesaver indeed. I work with a lot of traveling clients, and using electronic signatures is such a big help.

Nov 21, 2011 11:35 AM #16
Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities
Charlemagne International Properties - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A.

Great information for consumers new to e-signatures.  It is the way of the future and now is the time to get familiar with signing important documents online.  You're a skilled educator and providing a wonderful service with posts such as this one.

Nov 21, 2011 11:36 AM #17
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News
I" m a huge fan of electronic signatures. They have made it so easy to deal with our out of area clients and saved countless hours sitting I. Rush hour traffic getting that one last initial.
Nov 21, 2011 01:45 PM #18
Steve Warrene
Your Town Realty - Lower Burrell, PA
Pittsburgh Real Estate Investment Specialists

Margaret, Technology is great.  I love the idea of electronic signatures. 

Nov 21, 2011 02:06 PM #19
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Margaret - Esignatures are becoming much more common. I find that the banks are the biggest resisters.

Nov 21, 2011 02:34 PM #20
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Margaret, these are great step by step instructions on how to use it. My older clients are still reluctant to sign this way.

Nov 21, 2011 09:34 PM #21
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Steven, I'll bet they are helpful in the mortgage business!  I did check with the lender on my recent sale transaction, and they do accept the electronic signature... at least on the contract.

Barbara, I'm so glad I tried it... 'sure beats scanning and emailing, which was also pretty easy.

Eileen, the first time I used e-signature wasn't a co-op situation and didn't involve negotiating, so it was a breeze.  Little did I know that it would be equally easy with a more complex transaction.

Lloyd, I agree.  It's still necessary an agent to go over the paperwork with their client!

Erick, that's the beauty of electronic signatures... you can use it to get that one missing initial...


Nov 21, 2011 11:33 PM #22
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Michelle - Even after I used the electronic signature on a lease and a listing, I was very nervous about a contract... I couldn't imagine how to deal with writing in a complex contract negotiation.  I need not have been nervous.

Evelyn - We're in such a "now" world, where no one wants to wait for anything.  E-signing fits right in.

Jeff - Let me suggest you experiment with e-signature... perhaps with another agent who is equally hesitant.  My first time using it in business was a lease in which I was the listing agent and the procuring cause for the tenant.  It was not a complex transaction, nor were there any negotiations.  I prepared the lease, sent it out, and a half hour later had it back from the tenants.  By the next morning, we had a completed document with the landlord's signature... without anyone leaving home.

Erica - It's gotta be tough when you're the only firm doing this.  Our multiple listing service uses the same e-signing company that my real estate firm does, so it's becoming more common in our market.

Tamara - That makes a lot of sense... I thought I'd use it most often with military families, but I've also used it in local transactions.

Nov 21, 2011 11:51 PM #23
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Norma - I was afraid to try it... 'afraid it might be too complicated for my clients... 'afraid I'd make a mistake.  My concern was needless because e-signatures are very easy to use.

Cindy - You're right... this is a great convenience for out of area buyers, sellers, and renters, but especially at those times when you need just one initial.

Steve - If you haven't used e-signing yet, you might want to try it in one of those situations when you need one missing initial... or perhaps an add-on addendum, such as responding to a home inspection...

Christine - I haven't encountered that yet, but that's what I've heard.

Sandy - I can understand, and I think their hesitations are the same ones I had... fear of the unknown.

Nov 22, 2011 12:06 AM #24
George Lawson
Moreno Valley, CA

"This ranks right up there with fax machines, cell phones, online listing data, and electronic lock boxes" ... oh so true, Margaret. And we'll be left out in the cold if we do not adapt. Thanks for a great post!

Nov 22, 2011 05:15 AM #25
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

George - Sounds like you, too, survived real estate under those primitive conditions.  The interest thing for me is that I sold more houses in those days.  Doesn't make sense, does it?  LOL.

Nov 22, 2011 11:46 AM #26
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

Reblogged with this intro!

Here is a great explanation on electronic signatures. I have immersed myself in Docusign training the last few weeks. Our office has a new product coming down the pike but I could not hold off any longer. When your clients are in different states or on a ship, now is now!

Nov 22, 2011 01:06 PM #27
William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

I would love for my area to start using this, but alas. Maybe I'll reblog this, or send it to my broker and see whether he'll take the bull by the horns and run with it. One can only hope...

Nov 22, 2011 03:42 PM #28
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