Shopping Centers Today

NOV 2014

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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Page 52 of 71

n a business world increasingly reliant on smart- phone technology and cloud computing, perhaps the signing of contracts by putting pen to paper might seem a bit "old school" — and that is why the traditional method of finalizing deals may soon get relegated to the his- tory books. weingarten realty investors is one of the first shopping center landlords to create a platform for accepting electronic signatures. the Hous- ton-based reit now uses these e-signatures on the lease documents for its roughly 125 properties across texas and Florida. the company introduced the system this spring and plans to keep pushing it out to its entire portfolio, upwards of 250 properties across 21 states, over the next 12 to 15 months. sign oF tHe times electronic signatures are just as legal as a pen on paper, and they make deals happen a lot faster too By Beth Mattson-Teig n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 4 / S C T 53 residential realtors have been embracing the use of e-signatures to speed transactions and reduce the paperwork associated with purchase agreements and mortgages. a recent survey by the national association of realtors found that about 50 percent of the realtors polled are using e-signatures at least part of the time. but e-signatures have been slower to take hold in commercial real estate. "Just because no one else is doing it, we questioned, 'why can't we?' " said Patrick manchi, weingarten's vice president of the central region. manchi worked with the firm's legal depart- ment to research the technologies and the legal aspects of e-signatures for lease documents. wein- garten opted to work with docusign, a tech firm that provides products and services for signing and managing documents online. landlords and leasing agents have always had to wait to receive the original documents rather than a fax copy or a scan. weingarten's e-signature protocol enables the firm to accept a docusign signature on an electronic document signed from a computer or mobile device. "it really saves in many, many areas for us," said manchi. the signed documents eliminate the paper trail. Final copies may be routed electronically to all the parties. weingarten expects to realize considerable efficiencies and savings by eliminating the print- ing and sending of original documents by mail or special delivery. those savings add up. wein- garten completes some 1,200 renewals per year, and the firm estimates that the electronic dis- tribution of documents saves roughly between 1.5 and 4 hours per renewal among the leasing agents, lawyers and assistants. there is also no longer any need to print each renewal — saving anywhere from three to 15 pages there. "it is somewhat of a 'green' initiative too, to reduce the

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