Yes they are legal. As of July 1, 2015, we can electronically sign agreements of purchase and sale in Ontario. Pat and I use Docusign. We load the document onto the site and add the people who will sign and add the markers where signatures and initials are required.
We end up with a clear PDF file that has signature tracking. But then we forward this file to another party and that’s where we’re back to scanning or pictures with a phone and illegible agreements. I wish using something like Docusign was mandatory but I don’t think that will happen.
Sometimes we get offers back where each page is its own JPG file or each of the twelve pages has such a dark background that you can’t make out any of the pre-printed text. After all of the negotiation and finally coming to an agreement, we’ll end up not being able to see what we’ve agreed to. Wouldn’t it be better if the original offer was clear enough for everyone to read?
The other benefit to using electronic signature software is accessibility for those who have any type of challenge with signing their name. There is a hosted signature option where I can bring my tablet to a client who feels self conscious because it takes so long for her to sign her signature on each page and give her the option of tapping the screen where she needs to sign.
Electronic signatures save trees! People (young and old) don’t have printers and don’t want to print. Electronic signature software eliminates the need to print anything. There is a print button, but you don’t have to use it.
Some people are worried that electronic signatures mean that people won’t meet in person any more. I sincerely hope that nobody is buying a home without seeing it (in person) with their Real Estate Broker or Sales Representative!
I don’t know that we will stop global warming with this option, but it is a step in the right direction. We’ve got something that is accessible, convenient, environmentally friendly and it doesn’t cost our clients one cent! There is a cost to the software and there is a hardware requirement if I’m going to bring a tablet to a client for signature, but I think my clients are worth the extra cost.