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Choosing an Electronic Signature Solution

June 21 2013

This is the latest in a series of 'Buyer's Guides' that feature questions to ask and options to consider before making a new purchase. See our previous guides to purchasing a CMA, CRM, and Document and Transaction Management solution.

esignature tabletWhat are electronic signatures?

Doubtless you're all familiar with the basic concept of electronic signatures. After all, this popular technology is an exceptionally great fit for our document-intensive industry. Still, there's no time like the present to develop this basic familiarity into a more complete understanding of technology that can truly make a difference in your business.

Although each electronic signature solution serves the same primary purpose (allowing greater speed and flexibility in the signing of documents), they are all slightly different. So let's look at some questions you should ask electronic signature providers and learn about some of the companies that are leading this category.

Questions to Ask

There are some important questions to ask when buying any real estate technology product and some that are unique to choosing an electronic signature solution.

First, let's look at general questions you'll want to ask.

  • What are my objectives for this piece of technology and will this product help me achieve those objectives?
  • What is my budget?
  • Does my broker, MLS, or Association have any agreements with any vendors that might help me obtain this product at a discount or for free?
  • Does this product work with my current computer operating system?
  • What kind of customer service and training programs are available? Are there webinars and, if so, are they recorded so you can view them at any time? Is the vendor's online help sufficient? What are the telephone support hours?
  • Is this technology Web-based? If it is, how much functionality will be available when the tool is being used offline.
  • Will it work on my iPad or other mobile device?

After you've asked and answered these questions, you can get down to the electronic signature-specific questions.

  • Does this technology support the forms that are required in my MLS? What other formats are supported (i.e. .pdf and Word documents)?
  • Does this technology integrate with my document and/or transaction management solution?
  • Does this technology support biometric as well as digital signatures? (Learn more about the difference in this article: "Not All Electronic Signatures Are Created Equal."
  • Can clients sign using a tablet or Smartphone? What other functionality does the mobile app have to offer?
  • Is this a Cloud-based tool (in other words, one that "lives" online rather than installed on my computer)? If so, what functionality is supported when the technology is being used WITHOUT Internet access?
  • Which electronic signature solution is the rest of my brokerage using? Is there a preferred electronic signature provider for my MLS and/or Association?
  • What features has the vendor put in place to make these signatures secure and to confirm signer identity?
  • What features are available for tracking the status of an eSigned document and what kind of notifications will I get?

Your Options

For more information on these options, download our 2013 Technology Guide2013 Technology Guide. Here are several leading companies that offer electronic signatures.

  • DocuSign®: Undeniably one of the cross-industry leaders, DocuSign is a powerful tool for gathering electronic signatures. DocuSign offers a feature-rich mobile solution and integration with numerous popular products for document management, transaction management, and more. DocuSign is the official electronic signature provider to the National Association of REALTORS®.
  • Instanet Solutions: With Authentisign, Instanet Solutions has created a electronic signature solution that "works the way signings do in real life." Whether you're on your desktop computer or your tablet, Authentisign offers an intuitive user interface for electronic signatures that is fully integrated with their tools for transaction management, document management, and forms.
  • zipLogix®Digital Ink® is integrated with the popular zipForm 6 solution; however, users can also sign .pdf files created outside zipForm. The unique purchase model has no monthly or annual fees – instead, each purchased credit allows the user to send a transaction as many times as needed to complete the deal.

Next Steps