In the new modern age when everyone is in a hurry, most people’s preference is to do everything online because it seems faster and easier. Companies like Amazon are profiting greatly from this phenomenon, even from people just buying toilet paper because it can be delivered directly to their doorstep.
In real estate, technology has blessed the buying and selling process greatly. Absentee buyers or sellers are able to sign documents online easily with just a few clicks of the mouse. One elderly seller recently had to be coached on how to perform electronic signatures, but once they caught on, that means became their preferred routine instead of the old time-tested method where people are usually face to face with their broker. This electronic method has been prevalent for years now but since the Covid 19 pandemic, it has taken a more prominent role in most real estate transactions, except for the closing process where in-person notarized wet signatures are still required.
The blessings of this process may be very evident, but there is a huge negative side that is rarely talked about. The plain truth is that when most people receive the emailed document, they just start clicking away, signing legal documents in just seconds without reading or even understanding what they just agreed to. Brokers send off a legal document for signatures and get it back in a few minutes from someone who is distracted by work or busy outside or maybe just sitting on their couch, armed only with a smart phone. They quickly sign and send it back to the broker and from the broker’s perspective, it is easy to tell that their client hasn’t had time to read the document.
Wise brokers take the extra time it takes to call and explain the document and its intent so their client knows, at least in general terms, what it means to them. Wise sellers or buyers take the time to review the details of documents prior to signing so they don’t inadvertently agree to something they had no idea about. Clients who have had exposure to listing documents or purchase agreements multiple times may be savvy enough to review only the highlights or custom filled lines on an agreement, but new clients, especially first time buyers or first time sellers, ought to take care to thoroughly review the full document prior to tapping on their electronic mouse.