Industry NewsTechnology

E-signatures a real estate reality

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Editor's note: Part 1 of a two-part series. Jen Bowman had an eager buyer in Chicago, and clients in Georgia and South Carolina. There was one hitch: She was vacationing in Italy. With only her laptop at hand, she still completed five real estate contracts using a service that secured all the necessary signatures electronically. Since then, the Georgia broker associate has been sold on digital John Hancocks. "That's the future of the business. It's a huge time-saver. There is less paperwork," said Bowman of Keller Williams Realty in Decatur, Ga. For Bowman, electronic signatures are the sign of the times in the real estate industry. But she is ahead of the curve. Some experts estimate just 8 to 10 percent of active U.S. real estate professionals are embracing the technology -- even though it has been a decade since e-signatures earned the same legal weight as traditional "wet" signatures. That's a far cry from the bold predictions that the federal El...