New Requirement for Electronic Signatures
March 18, 2016
Last year, the Commission released a bulletin to the industry on the use of e-signatures in facilitating agreements and service contracts. Since its release, we have received some questions and comments on the policy and its practicality. After several constructive discussions with licensees, the Commission has amended its policy on document retention with regards to electronic signatures. Brokerages are no longer required to maintain physical copies of certificates of authenticity (confirmations including the service name, a time stamp and the confirmation number to authenticate the signature) in brokerage transaction files.
However, in lieu of the physical copies, these confirmation documents must be saved electronically at the brokerage should the Commission require a copy for inspection or investigative purposes. Be mindful that electronic signature services will evolve and if a service becomes obsolete the Commission will still require access to confirmation documents.
The Commission would also like to remind licensees that the Commission does not promote, prefer or otherwise endorse a particular brand of electronic signature software. The broker is directly responsible for verifying that any electronic signature service used to produce signatures on agreements creates legally binding brokerage/service agreements and agreements of purchase and sale for real estate. Failure to do so could result in disciplinary action. The Commission recommends that brokers seek legal advice as part of this verification process.