WAV Group had the opportunity to speak to Marc Lafrance of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) about their launch of digital signatures to all REALTORS in Canada. In an announcement, CREA is now offering REALTORS Instanet’s Authentisign and soon the DocuSign Electronic Signature products tightly integrated in their proprietary real estate forms product, WebForms®.
Canada has been successful at offering a national forms solution as a driver of REALTOR professionalism for more than a decade. Today, more than 51,000 REALTORS are using WEBForms®out of a total membership of about 116,000 REALTORS across Canada. WEBForms® is considered the second most highly adopted and valued member service by Canadian REALTORS, second only to REALTOR.ca. With the addition of electronic signatures, Canadian REALTORS are fully equipped to increase their effectiveness and provide the best possible consumer experience during a real estate transaction.
CREA has done a great job of removing barriers to electronic forms adoption. CREA acquired WEBForms® from Fraser Valley Board of REALTORSin 2001 as the cornerstone of their document automation strategy. WEBForms® has full MLS integration across the nation, making forms population efficient, and reducing manual data entry by REALTORS. In the United States, both Zipforms and Instanet Forms have had the ability to integrate MLS data for years, but sometimes that feature was not enabled due to the data management fees. The California Association of REALTORS introduced a similar program in January, waiving the MLS data integration fees in their state for ZipForms.
Education about electronic signatures will be an important initiative by CREA and their member boards in 2013. Like the United States, when and how to use electronic signatures will be an important lesson for all practitioners in Canada. REALTORS need to understand that the most important feature of an eSignature product is the ability to trace and record the history of the signature by all parties. Beyond that, some provinces in Canada like Ontario and Manitoba have not passed legislation that allows the purchase and sale agreements to be signed electronically. CREA has two initiatives to move digital signatures forward. First, they lock out digital signatures from forms that cannot be electronically signed to avoid REALTOR mistakes. Secondly, they are putting an emphasis on their lobbying efforts to advance the adoption of digital signatures in provincial law.
In this first phase of the roll out, CREA choose not to license Instanet and Docusign for all REALTORS. Rather, they have negotiated favored pricing for agents who want to get a jump-start on adopting this technology into their business. This is a smart strategy while user adoption grows and supporting legislation advances. This is not part of a CREA non-dues revenue strategy. 100% of all discounts are passed along to the REALTOR. The Al A Carte pricing is less than $40 cdn per year.
Lafrance said that working with Instanet and DocuSign has been a breeze, and the integration was very smooth. It is a great day for Canadian REALTORS. Watch for the next big development for WebForms®, full document management.