A single evolution to your process can increase buyer convenience and improve documentation at the same time
By ZOE MILLER
In the year 1215, King John signed the Magna Carta.
It’s eight centuries later, and in many situations, we’re still ratifying agreements the same way—a signature on a dotted line. At least King John only had to sign his contract once. One estimate suggests that the typical homebuyer signs or initials various documents 108 times before the deal is done.
And yet, a single change to your purchase process could significantly reduce not just hand cramping but time spent reviewing and filing documents for buyers and your internal team as well. As CRM software becomes an essential tool to track the journey of each buyer from prospect to homeowner, e-signature technology has become a powerful additional capability. An e-signature solution allows for a fully certified and legally binding signature to be applied to an agreement through digital means.
It’s a Better Buyer Experience
This may go without saying, but e-signatures exponentially increase the ease of completion for both homebuyers and home- builders. Buyers are likely familiar with setting aside a few hours, if not longer, to close a home purchase—taking an afternoon off work or leaving the kids with a sitter so they can sit and weary their hands with a flurry of signatures.
E-signatures also facilitate executing on a contracts package more easily through an automated, pre-set workflow. Each necessary party in the sequence—from buyer to agent, builder to escrow officer—receives a fully executed version of the package, with confirmation that all necessary signatures are present and accounted for. The e-signature platform can provide each signatory with their own copy and save an additional copy to a secure digital archive as well.
In addition, throughout the building process, e-signature provides an added layer of convenience. Warranty work orders and other necessary documents can be executed via e-signature. This saves time for the buyer and the builder, moving the process forward faster and with the additional tracking capabilities of e-signed documents. Your warranty/customer service software may include a mobile e-signature process so your team or vendors can collect the homeowner’s signature via phone or tablet.
It’s More Accurate and More Secure
According to research by IDC, more than a third of businesses say they have encountered issues with the validity of paper agreements. There’s nothing more confusing or irritating for homebuyers than being asked to return for another signature or another document. More than half of those businesses also said they have problems subsequently finding documents because of misfiled or lost documents.
The risk for mistakes and lost documents only increases with the number of documents involved—and as any homebuyer or builder can attest, buying and selling homes involves a stack of agreements that’s politely described as “comprehensive.” Because an e-signature is a fully digital process, every step can be tracked and documented with precise detail. Documents can’t be accidentally left behind or unexpectedly lost. All the signatures and all the data attached to those documents remain within the platform.
It Saves Money
Reducing use of paper and ink is not just good for the environment, it’s good for the bottom line. One of the industry’s leading e-signature providers, DocuSign, estimated back in 2010 that they had already saved 14,230 trees by reducing consumption of approximately 837 tons of paper. In case you were curious, that’s enough to line the edge of the continental United States twice, and just 2,000 sheets shy of circling the equator. It’s likely that as a builder, you have reams of paper taking up space in file cabinets and boxes from any number of past transactions, plus a time-consuming method for maintaining that archive. With e-signatures, that entire repository of past transactions becomes digital.
There are also savings from a time management perspective. Think of every member of your team that is required to interact with each home sale. That sale may have up to 40 documents attached to it, ranging from a purchase agreement to options orders to avigation easement disclosures. Imagine each of those interactions requiring just a review and a click versus the onerous process of passing paper documents and transacting business on paper. According to e-signature provider SmartVault, utilizing e-signature can result in routing a document 25 times faster than traditional paper methods.
Zoe Miller is a principal at Computer Presentation Systems in the Sacramento area. The 25+-year veteran of the homebuilding industry sets the company’s development strategies and oversees its daily operations.