A Baker's Dozen: Top 13 Reasons to Sign Documents Electronically in Real Estate Transactions

Posted by Jolenta Averill on Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 at 11:12am

pen and paper

Many agents and their clients take the electronic signing of documents for granted when carrying out real estate transactions. But for those who might balk at the idea for whatever reason, we urge you to read the list of advantages below and consider using electronic signing in the course of your next real estate transaction. 

 

It's All or Nothing

1.) Did you know that in Wisconsin, if you don't consent to exchanging documents electronically with your Madison Realtor, no other parties in your real estate transaction will be permitted to exchange documents electronically? Sounds kind of unreasonable but it's true. In Wisconsin, all parties must consent to the exchange of electronic documents within the same transaction or no one can do so. Since the vast majority of people are online during at least a few occasions per day (if not more), the imposition to sign documents offline typically comes as a big surprise and, at best, a very unwelcome inconvenience. If you’re at all hesitant to sign documents electronics because you’re not familiar with signing software, not to worry. We can walk you through it in person or over the phone or create a video tutorial just for you so it’s easy as pie. 

 

Deadlines Are Binding

In real estate transactions, deadlines are binding if and only if all parties have signed documents by a certain date and time. So if you & your agent (or you & your spouse) are not physically in the same location at the time an offer is received, you may miss the opportunity to respond in a timely manner unless you've established consent to exchange documents electronically. Similarly, if you’re buying real estate & you need to respond within a certain timeframe to a vital piece of communication requiring written consent, electronic consent could mean the difference between smooth sailing and a missed deadline. 

 

Paperwork Can Be Copious

Without the ability to exchange documents electronically, you or your agent, as well as the other agent and their clients, will be forced to drive across town (or further) every time a document needs signing. Examples of documents that routinely need to be signed in the course of any real estate transaction include (but are not limited to): counter offers, amendments to the offer to purchase, inspection amendments, closing date adjustments, closing credits, loan commitments, FHA disclosures, FIRPTA addendums, etc. Bear in mind that even if there are several buyers or sellers and they live in different places, that won't matter. Whether an adult child is getting help with a purchase or it's an estate involving multiple heirs, each and every party on all sides of the transaction will have to provide "wet" (in-person) signatures, sometimes with witnesses. Depending on how restrictive the delivery measures of those documents are, that could mean unnecessarily racking up hundreds of dollars in overnight mailing costs.  

 

No More Missed Deadlines

If documents are not received by a specified deadline, a buyer or seller could wind up compromising the agreement or even being in breach of contract. As an extreme example, in the case of a buyer it could mean being forced to accept a property in "as is" condition. For homeowners who are selling, it could even mean losing the sale if documents aren't delivered by the binding acceptance deadline. 

 

Green is Beautiful!

Exchanging documents electronically utilizes far less fossil fuels, less paper, and is more environmentally responsible. At Lake & City Homes Realty we encourage everyone to consider the impact on the environment that their choices have. We have even gone so far as to replace our gas fueled vehicles with all electric cars and trucks. 

 

Electronic Signing is Easy

Did you know you can sign documents electronically on any platform including smartphones, tablets, laptops, as well as desktop computers? Unless you’re on a smartphone, you won't have to draw your signature either. Pick from several signature styles & just click away. In addition, electronic signing applications are designed to be "responsive" which means they will display correctly regardless of the platform you use to sign. Again, easy as pie. 

 

Electronic Docs are More Legible

When you exchange documents electronically you don't experience the degradation of quality that typically arises when faxing, photocopying, scanning, printing, & rescanning. Crisp, clean, legible, fresh copies can be printed for your records. And you won't be asked to re-sign documents because of legibility issues. 

 

Electronic Signing is Free

Your Realtor pays good money for professional electronic signing software so you don't have to! What's more, no party in the transaction will have to waste another penny on gas, toner, paper, envelopes, ink, stamps or snail mail with tracking. 

 

Electronic Signing is Efficient

Who doesn't like to save time? The convenience, efficiency, and time-saving measures inherent in electronic signing means everyone gets to spend more time doing what they want to do as opposed to printing, hand-signing, and driving signed documents across town. Conversely, when we package up documents to be signed electronically, signing typically happens within minutes or a few hours. And you can  always print out a paper copy if you feel more comfortable looking documents over in hard copy format first prior to signing digitally.

 

Avoid Missing Opportunities

In a seller's market, buyers need clear signals in order to perform in ways that benefit sellers. And sellers need buyers to respond in certain ways if they want to attract timely offers that will get their home sold fast for top dollar. If a buyer loves a property but is getting a slow response (or even unclear signals about when a response from the seller might be expected), they might move on to another opportunity. In fast-moving markets where short deadlines are the norm, it could mean fewer offers or offers that expire before they can be responded to--clearly not a good situation for any seller.

 

Keep It Legal

One of the most important reasons to exchange documents electronically in real estate transactions is that, quite simply, real estate transactions are no small matter and need to be taken very seriously. After all, a real estate transaction is usually the biggest financial decision of someone's life. When you sign documents electronically the program stamps each signature with a unique identifying number and comes with a full audit trail for every envelope opened, completed, or voided. The piece of mind knowing that it can easily be shown whether or not deadlines were met is worth the initial discomfort involved in trying something new. We would even call it "learning", however if you can click on the yellow prompts (for your signature or initials) and then hit "Finish" when you're done, you'll pretty much be a pro in under 10 seconds flat! Don’t leave anything to chance. In case there is ever any kind of legal dispute, the audit trail from the documents you digitally signed are the definitive authority on what happened when in the transaction. 

 

Electronic Signing is Secure

The extensive security measures built into electronic signing software means that the process is authenticated. I have personally signed thousands of documents via DocuSign and ZipLogix (my personal favorites, although definitely not the cheapest) and I sleep well at night knowing that the signing of my clients' real estate documents is secure. 

 

Electronic Signing Keeps You Organized

As soon as all parties to a transaction have signed a given document, a PDF copy of that document is instantaneously sent to all signers' inboxes. You can then download a copy to a folder, print it out, forward it to your mortgage lender, as needed. Fast, fun, easy, & instantly gratifying!

 

We hope this baker's dozen of reasons to sign documents electronically convinces you how easy and attractive digital signing is and why it's a smart choice for anyone—buyers and sellers alike—involved in Wisconsin real estate transactions. 

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