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Buy a house, save a tree…

Written by Mark T Fiedler - The Mark and Sheila Team
April 16th, 2010

On April 8, 2010, the Federal Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) published a decision in the form of Mortgagee Letter 2010-14, wherein they are now accepting digital signatures (e-signatures) on real estate documents, including contracts. DocuSign Inc., a leader in the e-signature field has been leading the charge to get e-signatures accepted by more agencies and for more purposes, including broad usage by real estate brokers.

E-signatures have been legal in the U.S. for over 10 years now, but only recently have they become more commonly used for real estate sales.  The Mark and Sheila Team has been using the DocuSign e-signing system for just under 2 years now. (We were one of the first brokers in the Albuquerque / Rio Rancho Metro Area to adopt it.) Now, getting signatures on time-sensitive real estate sale contracts, disclosures and other contractual agreements is quick, easy and convenient for our clients – especially since about 40% of our clients are living out of the area while they are buying or selling a home with us.

The e-signing process is so quick and simple, anyone with an internet connection and an email account can affix their initials, signatures and dates to a document electronically in about half the time it takes to do so with a pen. A client of ours who used the system for the first time today to sign all the documents needed to list her home, actually said it was “fun” to use. I’ll take that reaction to one of our systems anytime….

Although about 98% of all mortgage lenders, banks, brokerages, title and relocation companies accept e-signatures on real estate sale documents, most lenders still want wet-ink signatures on paper forms to create notes and mortgages. Once they have them, what do most of these companies do with the signed paper documents? They scan them to electronic form. (Insert scratching of head here.) Then they file (lose) the papers in warehouses.

Several companies, including Stewart Title, offer a complete E-Signing Room system for closing of real estate transactions and paperless signing of notes and mortgages. Only a few mortgage lenders, and even fewer New Mexico County Recording offices are prepared to accept electronic filings at this time, but within a couple years we may be able to sell a house without cutting down 3 trees for each transaction.