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Q. Are electronic signatures acceptable on real estate documents?

A. Real Estate agreements and documents are not enforceable unless signed by the parties involved. An electronic signature is a legal tool intended to accomplish the same function as a handwritten signature which is an agreement to terms of a contract.

State and federal statutes and guidelines have been established so that electronic records and signatures carry the same weight and legal effect as traditional paper documents. There are no legal barriers to this technology being used for a real estate transaction. An electronic signature is only valid if the signer intends to sign the paperwork (there must be intent) and must separately agree to and consent to the use of electronic signatures.

Parties involved in the real estate transaction are considered consumers and there may be "required information" such as agency disclosure, or lead paint notification to be signed electronically. This can be done if specific consent is given by the consumer anytime prior to signing paperwork.

All signed paperwork needs to be in a format that can be retained and reproduced, and be accessible to all parties. An electronic
signature must be attached to or logically associated with the documents being signed. As electronic signatures become more user-friendly, signed documents and files can be readily shared thus reducing the need for hard copies and paper files.