Real estate technology company a la mode inc. has released a free public beta version of a digital document and e-signature application for mortgage professionals, called SureDocs.

The product is essentially a printer driver that allows users to generate Adobe Acrobat PDF files from other standard file types and to assign e-signature tags to digital documents. Users can then send e-mail notifications about the documents, and the recipients can access and electronically sign those documents on the Web after verifying their identity.

“We have plans to make a tailor-made version for real estate agents, real estate appraisers and many other professions,” said Chris Low, executive vice president of products at a la mode.

The company has tested the tool privately for a couple of months, Low said, and eventually the company will charge a subscription fee for the service. There are no plans to charge on a per-transaction or per-document basis for the tool.

The completely digital real estate transaction is something of a Holy Grail for the industry, and several companies have created technologies and tools to help digitize and automate the transaction process, which historically has been paper-intensive and time-consuming.

“This is one of the smoothest and easiest to understand products we’ve ever built,” Low said, adding that the aim was to make the digital document experience very transparent and efficient. Users of the product view digital renderings of documents and use the computer mouse to click on icons and drag and drop the items to the appropriate place on the documents to indicate where an e-signature is needed by a borrower or a co-borrower, for example.

Recipients of these SureDocs documents can view the documents by creating an account with a username and password. Low said document signers can choose the type of digital handwriting script that they wish to assign to their signature, and the SureDocs system logs information about each e-signature.

“An e-signature is more accurate and more secure than a handwritten one – we log the name, the password, the date, time, second – the spot on the page and the IP (Internet protocol) address that the signature came from. We know from which computer (the user) did the signing and when,” Low said.

This signing process has traditionally taken hours or days using standard modes communications, such as fax machines or mail, while the SureDocs process can cut this process down to a matter of minutes, Low said.

A la mode CEO Scott Kinnaird said in a statement, “SureDocs, particularly released in public beta, will seed the industry with thousands of eMortgage and e-signature capable brokers and professionals.” He added, “It’s rare in any segment for a company to release a public beta that would normally retail for $499.”

Users can download the SureDocs tool from the Web site, and the tool activates when users choose to print a digital document. Rather than printing to a paper printer, the tool “prints” documents as a SureDocs PDF file and allows users to make changes to the file. Once documents are complete, the documents are automatically uploaded to a secure, encrypted Web site.

The document process complies with federal laws such as the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which relates to consumer privacy, and the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) laws, according to a company announcement.

Electronically transmitted and signed documents can save brokers and loan officers paper and printing costs, shipping costs, and time, the company announced. “RESPA’s three days for disclosures is forever to a borrower in today’s market,” said Brad Eaton, a la mode’s vice president of mortgage products, in a statement. “Every wasted moment is a moment your competitors can take that borrower away from you.”

Founded in 1985, a la mode develops desktop, mobile, and Web tools for the real estate and mortgage industries. The company has offices in Salt Lake City, Orlando, Oklahoma City, and Washington, D.C., and is home to more than 250 employees.

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