4 risks to creating your own real estate forms and contracts - and how to avoid them

Creating your own forms may seem like a simple task, it's easy to copy and paste, right? What's the harm? The looming risks associated with compliance, errors, time consumption, exposure to fraud, and more.

4 risks to creating your own real estate forms and contracts 
- and how to avoid them

The ease with which we can produce forms and documents on our computers today means many real estate agents and property managers play a game of Russian roulette every time they send out a contract to clients.

While it may be a simple thing to type or copy and paste the words and create sections for filling in, how do you know that the information you’re seeking, and the way you’re asking for it, is accurate and compliant?

Sure, it’s important that your forms and contracts match your branding and presentation standards in real estate. However, even more vital is that the data you’re collecting and the terms and conditions associated with it, meet with current legislation and don’t expose you or your client to unnecessary legal risks. The cost of using contracts that are not up to date can quickly run into tens of thousands of dollars, plus reputational damage.

A form and contract platform is much more than just a series of templates, documents and PDFs. A good form and contract platform has safeguards built into it to ensure that the templates you use are up to date with the latest legislation, protect you from risk and integrate with your CRM and workflow software to allow you to work faster and more efficiently.

Below we’ve outlined some of the biggest risks of managing your own library of templates for forms and contracts and how to avoid them.

Forms easily become outdated

Legislation changes quickly and regularly in real estate. Keeping up with them can be a full-time job. Sometimes it can just be a clause or a line - Still, the ramifications can be huge.

Forms Live works with lawyers from Colin Biggers & Paisley who have a watching brief to ensure our forms always reflect all aspects of current legislation and that any changes made are immediately acknowledged, acted upon and updated in our system.

The cost of getting it wrong

Fair Trading doesn’t care that you intended to update a contract and just didn’t get time. Use a contract that refers to expired legislation and you risk legal action from your clients that can have huge consequences for your business.

At any time, if an issue is identified on your forms, you’ll have to be fully transparent with clients about the mistake you made on the form they’ve just signed. Like it or not, this causes distrust and negatively impacts your reputation as a reliable agent or manager.

Inside Forms Live, we differentiate between legislative areas that cannot be edited, and sections that are customisable to reflect your own company’s terms and conditions. This prevents anyone in your team inadvertently making changes they shouldn’t, while allowing flexibility to do things your way.

Time wasted on the wrong work

Managing your own forms and contracts is a never-ending job. You’ll need a resource in your team whose role is to constantly work on keeping forms up to date, reviewing legislation and keeping them in order. This person should ideally have a legal background and be a proof-reader extraordinaire.

They’ll also need to alert your team each time there are changes, and work out how to deliver forms and contracts in a way that makes it impossible to use the wrong ones. They’ll even need to work out how to integrate signing solutions so you can use digital rather than wet signatures so you can turn around contracts in hours rather than weeks.

This isn’t a one-time thing that you build and then forget about. It’s a case of constant maintenance, updates and technical integrations.

With Forms Live, we update our contracts and forms immediately upon legislative changes, remove old templates from use (past contracts are not affected) and send users alerts to know what has changed and why.

Exposure to cyber fraud

Your forms and contracts contain valuable data that is now actively sought after by scammers, phishers and organised crime. Inside your forms, you have data including names, addresses, identification, and even bank account details.

As a business owner, you’re legally responsible for protecting this data and taking reasonable steps to manage this risk. An emailed link that allows anyone to access and edit a form is a dangerous breach and exposes your business to very expensive and stressful work to try and undo the damage.

The Forms Live platform strives to use best practice security methods, incorporating features such as two-factor authentication to keep you, your clients and your team safer. The platform also protects your data behind the latest encryption protocols, ensuring it's as secure as your online banking.

Digital forms are accessible from anywhere

The Forms Live platform is particularly handy when it comes to filing forms. How many times have you forgotten a form in the backseat or saved it somewhere on your work desktop? Our digital forms are fully cloud-based, meaning they can be created, edited, sent, signed, and, of course, filed and accessed from anywhere, on any device. Plus you can see a full history of who has interacted with the form and when.

The faster turn around time

Asking clients to download a form, print and scan to return is not just tedious to do, slow to execute and a cyber risk, it’s a terrible customer experience. Let your clients sign on glass via their mobile or computer, not only is the transaction more secure, it will turn around in hours (If not mere minutes) saving you time, money and stress.

Our customisable forms

We understand you want your forms and contracts to reflect your brand. You have your own special terms and conditions in some instances, or useful information you like to share with clients. The Forms Live platform allows you to brand your contracts, add your own Appendix, even share and create permission levels around it so that only those authorised can make changes. Plus we have hundreds of other templates in our system that you may not have thought of using yet!

Let Forms Live handle the form creation and upkeep, since it’s what we do best, so you can focus on keeping clients happy.