June 15, 2010
One of the latest and greatest efficiency factors in California real estate is the use of electronic signatures.
It is made possible by California’s Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (“UETA”) (Civil Code Sections 1633.1 et seq.) and the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (“E-Sign”) (15 USC Sections 7001 et seq.).
The primary stumbling block to electronic transactions has been security and authentication issues, but they have been resolved.
In reality, the document appears before you on your computer screen. You are asked to select a font type you like and a marker begins to tell you where to click your mouse. When you do, your name is imprinted where the sender previously indicated.
This feature is so sound that no signature, contract, or record relating to an approved document or transaction can be denied legal validity or enforceability solely because it is an electronic format,
There is no question that E-Signing is helpful and efficient and very “green”. As an early user of this technology myself, willing clients and I have saved dozens of reams of paper. However, there are clearly some documents that are not suited for E-signing. This is proven by personal experience and by law.
E-Signing legally excludes wills, codicils, or testamentary trusts, adoptions, divorce or other family law matters, and many legal notices.
Some of the documents which are excluded in real estate transactions are
seller financing disclosures, home equity sales contracts, provision of conditional sales contact/note and security agreement to mobilehome/manufactured home owner,
Notices under Mobilehome Residency Law,
condominium defect disclosures, handling of security deposits, inspection notices rental application screening fees, three-day and eviction notices.
Some clients may think initially that electronic signing is efficient, but some of us will always be more comfortable with paper and pen when executing a document.
E-Signing is totally voluntary but has specific requirements for obtaining consent to receive disclosures required by law to be given in writing.
As in all transactions, there is room and opportunity for fraud. Don’t take chances with your money and your peace of mind. If you are good at reading documents on line, E-signing is a good tool.
If you are more comfortable with pen and paper, let it be your business decision and stick with it. While it is the “green way” to go, there are times when it is not helpful in understanding what you are signing.
When in doubt, contact a knowledgeable and capable real estate attorney for advice.
Kay Wilson-Bolton is a real estate broker and has been serving West Ventura County since 1976 with offices in Ventura and Santa Paula. She can be reached at 805.340.5025. http://www.realestatemagic.com