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E-documents could save you thousands

Real-life contract
Real-life contract
Doug Vogelsass

Perhaps you think I am exaggerating. Even if we agree that using electronic document programs makes contracts easier to read, ensures that all parties have legible and up-to-date copies, is faster and more convenient than the previous model of faxing or scanning documents and sending them back to be printed for revisions and signatures, is it possible that it can save you (the client) thousands of dollars? Not only is it possible, it happened for our client just this week.

Electronic signature software is a fairly recent development and has been somewhat slow to catch on, but I truly believe that it is fast becoming an indispensable tool in Austin real estate. In a time in which parties to a real estate transaction may never even meet in person, electronic delivery of documents has become the norm. But we are still evolving.

It used to be that your agent would write a contract by hand (or typed into an e-document), print it, have you sign it then fax it or scan and email it to the agent of the other party. That agent would then print it, scratch out and revise portions of the contract and fax or scan and email it back. This process repeats itself until an agreement is reached. Of course this results in a very messy and often illegible contract. Tedious. Time-consuming. And prone to mistakes.

Enter electronic signature software. By allowing parties to sign electronically, documents are always crisp and clean and nothing needs to be scratched out. You simply re-type your revisions and click to sign. The next party to sign is then notified via email that the document is ready. Neat, clean, fast and not as prone to errors and omissions. But how did that save our client thousands of dollars?

We received an offer (see picture) on our client's home in East Austin that seemed to be typed and printed by the buyer's agent, then physically brought to the buyer to sign. Apparently there was some discussion about the offer and they decided to change it. If you look closely at the offer price, it appears as though the original offer was whited out and the new figure of $160,000 was written in. That let us know the buyer most likely originally considered offering more than that. But how much more?

Now look at the earnest money section. In Austin, earnest money is often 1% of the offered price. In this case the earnest money was to be $1,650. Could it be that the buyer was willing to begin her negotiations at $165,000, but wanted to see if we would take $160,000? We believed that to be the case, and countered as if their offer was $165,000. Sure enough, we settled on a price much closer to our counter-offer - and above $165,000 - putting several thousand dollars into our client's pocket.

Austin is a tech-savvy town with tech-savvy citizens. Shouldn't your real estate agent be utilizing available technology to best serve your interests and your pocketbook?


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