There’s a lot of e-signature and real estate transaction platforms available with various features. E-signatures, digital signatures, signature stamping – what does it all mean? How do you find out what features actually work for you, and what features are irrelevant. Here’s a list of all the commonly used terms to give you an idea of what apps are actually offering.
- Smart forms: Smart forms are agreements & forms that have initials/signatures already marked for buyers/sellers/agents. Agents don’t need to manually drop the initial tags, dates and text boxes since the forms understand the intelligence behind the agreements to save agents some time. Once you identify the different parties in the agreement smart forms know who signs which field. Also because of the intelligence involved, the smart forms can track information from the negotiation process allowing for a very sophisticated audit trail.
- Upload PDF’s: Agents can upload PDF’s into e-signature and transaction management applications to sign, negotiate and share with their offices. The upload PDF feature allows agents to upload a form and manually drop initial/signature tags. This also is a necessary tool if agents receive an offer from an agent who is not using an e-signature tool.
- Sharing permissions: Sharing permissions allow team agents or agents with assistants to share and work on the same agreements based on the permissions chosen. For example, an admin could assist a REALTOR with creating their agreements but would not have permission to sign or share with the clients. Also agents would have the ability to give permission to an agent on their team to sign on their agreements.
- Custom templates: Custom templates allow for agents to create agreement, form and clauses combinations that they use on a regular basis (ie. residential, condo, etc). This allows for them to create an agreement even faster if the framework for their agreements are ready-to-go.
- E-Signatures: Electronic signatures are signature generated on a computer or mobile device. These signatures are marked with a mouse, trackpad or finger on a touchscreen and would be unique to each person. Agents and clients often find this most comparable to signing with a pen on paper.
- Digital Signatures: Digital signatures are automatically generated signatures with generic cursive writing from a typed name. Under the signature there often will be code or serial number as a security measure to verify that the correct person is signing and may have additional information stored depending on the application (ie. geographic locations, email, time/date). These signatures may not be very unique looking but still carry a lot of information to ensure authenticity.
- Signature Stamping: Signature stamping is when a signature is created within the app and saved to be used anytime. Doing this lets you quickly go through a document and simply click where you would like to sign. Some people are wary about signature stamping as there is no way to ensure the person actually signed a field since the signature can be saved and there is little to no information save to ensure authenticity.
- Signature Progress: Signature progress is when there is some kind of indicator to show how many signatures have been completed and how many are left to sign for each person involved in the agreement. This way agents can ensure no signatures are missed.
- Guided Signing: Typically when viewing an agreement online, agents and clients will scroll through the document trying to find which signature/initial tags they are meant to sign. With guided signing, each signature/initial is clearly marked for each person making the signing process clearer and faster.
- Automatic Signature Placement: Signatures are automatically placed on some agreements, like smart forms listed above. This saves time from having to manually drop initial and signature tags which can be particularly tedious when creating an Agreement of Purchase and Sale with many amendments.
- Version tracking: When creating an agreement on paper, agents typically scratch out parts they want to amend. With electronic agreements, applications create a new version of the agreement each time so it is a clean agreement with the updated price or condition. Version tracking allows for all the amendments to be tracked and the versions organized in chronological order and by which party initiated that change. This eliminates the paper trail and allows for complete transparency for all parties.
- Digital Editing: When an electronic agreement is created and an amendment is made, typically agents would have to start from the beginning and generate a new offer from scratch. Applications that offer digital editing allow agents to make amendments live on the agreement, while still making it clear and transparent as to who is making those changes.
- Transaction Status: Transaction status’ are a clear identifier to show whether an offer in incoming, outgoing or completed. Additionally, some applications will show when action is required and what the latest actions were on the document. This will make it easier to manager offers if there are a few active at one time.
Tracking & Storage
- Compliance checklist: Typically initiated by the brokerage, some applications can have a compliance checklist requiring certain documents to be submitted depending on the agreement. It will clearly show if a form is missing, easily ensuring compliance brokerage-wide.
- Audit report: Audit reports show a detailed outline of when an agreement is created, when all amendments were made and what those changes were. Sometimes these reports will be even more detailed and include samples of signatures, geographic locations of those signatures and a copy of all the versions of the agreement.