The Pros and Cons of E-Sign in the Real Estate Transaction

In the world in which we live in today, if you haven’t been asked to electronically sign something, you’ve been hiding underneath a rock.  Our comfort level with E-sign has rapidly evolved in the last ten years. Electronic signatures in real estate transactions are fast becoming the norm instead of the exception.

For purposes of simplicity in this post, I am going to refer to electronic signatures and digital signatures as one in the same, although they are different.  Digital signatures are used in the real estate business and are much more secure than electronic signatures.  If you’re geeky and want to read about the differences, click here to learn more.

Before we touch on the pros and cons of e-sign, a common misconception needs to be cleared up.  I often hear from consumers and agents alike, “Are they legal?”  The short answer, “Yes.”

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) was introduced in 1999 and has been adopted by 47 U.S. states (Pennsylvania is one of them), as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  UETA allows electronic signatures in real estate transactions as long as the parties to a contract agree to proceed electronically.

The ESIGN Act is a federal law passed in 2000 and grants legal recognition to electronic signatures and records if all parties to a contract choose to use electronic documents and to sign them electronically.

UETA and the ESIGN Act solidified the legal landscape for use of electronic records and electronic signatures in real estate transactions by confirming that they carry the same weight and have the same legal effect as traditional paper documents and wet ink signatures.

Now that they boring legal stuff is out of the way, here are the pros and cons:  Continue reading