I have been a huge fan of DocuSign for quite some time. Our clients can be traveling the world and we get signatures on contracts swiftly — oftentimes within minutes — and this can provide a competitive advantage in certain situations. The only issue is that setting up the signature process can be somewhat time consuming, especially if there are multiple parties to a transaction or if several addendums need to be signed.
Fortunately our friends at DocuSign recognized this challenge and came up with two new solutions — Templates and Intelligent Document Recognition. Using these new features, I was able to reduce the time for setting up a contract for signature from 20 minutes to 2 minutes. It is game changing.
Templates allow you to take frequently used documents, such as a real estate purchase agreement, and pre-define all of the locations on the agreement where the participants need to take action. You specify the “role” of the person signing a particular section of the document (such as Buyer 1, Buyer 2, Buyer’s Agent, Seller 1, Seller 2, etc.) and then drag and drop the “electronic sticky tabs” on to the agreement for the actions that need to be completed such as “sign”, “initial”, “optional initial,” or “date.”
Intelligent Document Recognition (IDR) simplies the process further. You can tell the system to automatically recognize a certain document as a “real estate purchase contract,” for example, by looking for certain attributes in the document. These attributes could be the title of the document or some other unique identifier. To set it up, you start the IDR tool and draw a box around the sections of the document that identify what it is. Once you have completely set up the template and IDR, you can upload it to DocuSign and it is ready for use.
How does this all work in practice? I may be write an offer that includes three components – a Residential Purchase Agreement, a Wood Destorying Pest Addendum, and a Statewide Buyer and Seller Advisory. These documents can accomodate up to two buyers, and there is a space for the buyer’s agent to sign.
First, I set up my templates for three different roles — Buyer 1, Buyer 1, and Buyer’s Agent. I set up all of the appropriate places to sign/date/initial. Because the California forms have nice titles on them to help identify what they are, I used the IDR Tool to draw a box around the titles so that the system automatically recognizes the document type.
To prepare the offer for signature, I log into DocuSign and upload the individual documents that make up the offer. As I upload each document, IDR detects it and asks me a question such as “Do you want to apply the California Residential Purchase agreement template?” Next, I specify the names/emails for the different parties to the transaction and press “send”. What if I only have one buyer but the template is set up for two buyers? No problem. During the send process, just click “delete” on Buyer 2 and everything associated with that role will be automatically removed from the document. How cool is that?
It is a little more expensive to use these new features. You will need a DocuSign plan that supports DocuSign Professional, Templates, and IDR. They have a plan that starts at $35/month which should be more than sufficient for most real estate professionals.