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Are electronic signatures secure enough for property management?

I have sort of a thing about perfecting my electronic signature so that it closely resembles my paper signature from a ballpoint pen. The stylus is a little cumbersome and the round point just doesn’t give me that feeling of control with the pinpoint accuracy of a Mont Blanc. I’m a little more deliberate so the real Tim Blackwell is etched in, well, plastic.

You can do so much by signing electronically these days. In my case recently, I made two credit card purchases at a hobby show that required an electronic signature – one on an iPad and another on a smartphone. Both dealers used the little, plastic swipe adapter called Square that plugs into personal devices in a flash. Signing the small iPhone screen was a little difficult but I did a fairly good job of making my mark. And whether my script was on the money wasn’t an issue. The point is the signature was good enough to bind me to the transaction. I trusted both vendors and didn’t have second thoughts about my signature being compromised.

Electronic signatures: Safe and secure for property management

E-signatures today are not only legally binding, but they are a safe and secure way of doing business. And when it comes to property management companies, eSignatures come in very handy, whether inking a resident for a new or renewed lease or signing off on a work order from a contractor. When leasing an apartment online, the mobility of eSignatures makes it possible for a renter to sign leases anywhere, anytime.

More and more companies are going the electronic signature route; banking and insurance companies have been using the technology for years. One high-ranking official for an eSignature provider claims that 1.6 million personnel are using the technology at a savings of $1.3 billion per year. A lender who does business mostly in Ohio and Michigan says that 90 percent of the company’s loans are done electronically – right down to the dotted line – and that speed in completing transactions has helped increase loan volume by 50 percent. Gone are the days of calling a courier to take documents across town to get a signature, eSignatures are more widely accepted as the way to do business.

Time is money for property management companies and owners, and using electronic signatures to complete transactions—whether business-to-business or for the purposes of finalizing new leases or renewing existing ones—makes sense. With more than 70 percent of U.S. households now connected to the Internet, executing online lease agreements with e-signatures can help fill units quickly.

Understanding the security behind electronic signatures

Electronic signature authentication systems are designed to create a unique fingerprint or stamping that ensures the authenticity of the signer and the document that was signed – as effective as the old-fashioned way. Generally, processes identify the signer and document, seal the electronic signature to the e-document, and store the sealed document in a secure place. Attempts to tamper with the signature are usually visible.

Signers may be required to set up an account with login and password to verify their signatures and create a seal that is placed on the document. Once the seal is administered, the document is safely stored and maintained to strict compliance and governance standards set forth by the Electronic Signatures Act (ESA), which was signed into law in 2000 and has been adopted by 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Binding agreements through the electronic “John Hancock” have been signed, sealed, and delivered in a number of ways, including a mouse-click on a box marked “I accept.” Even emails have been held to constitute writings that form a legally binding agreement.

Through the power of electronic signatures, online leasing or something as simple as signing off on a major repair with a contractor is a safe, secure way of doing business for property management companies that eliminates the headaches of getting one’s John Hancock by traditional means.

Not to mention cutting down on office supplies.



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