70%of envelopes are completed in under 1 hour
85%of envelopes are completed in under 6 hours
> 5Contracts are sent for signing within 5 minutes of an auction
Offr is a fast growing prop-tech business working across UK and Irish markets. Launched in September 2019, the young company is already making waves within the property sector, modernising a typically conservative industry and getting property transactions done faster and more seamlessly, while improving the user experience.
Offr’s founders joined forces to bring their expertise in property and technology together to tackle the problems facing the property market: The length of time it takes for property deals to go through, the inefficiency of the estate agent business that conducts those transactions, and the lack of transparency for the end user
Creating a digital platform and enabling users to transact remotely and at any time has been revolutionary for an industry that normally relies on face-to-face interaction where documents were always physically executed in person. As part of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, DocuSign offers eSignature: the world's #1 way to sign electronically, which Offr is using to transform and streamline outdated and cumbersome processes.
Integrating eSignature to provide users with a seamless and fully digital experience
As a totally digital company, Offr recognised that signing was a crucial part of their business offering, as signatures are needed so many times and by so many different stakeholders throughout the property journey.
For this reason, Offr founders Robert, Niall and Philip were extremely particular when choosing a signing solution. Co-founder and CEO Robert understood that a recognisable and trusted brand was important because, as a business, Offr deals with many professional stakeholders including auctioneers, estate agents, and solicitors—many of whom are highly cautious when it comes to technology. Buy-in was needed from these stakeholders. DocuSign offers the world's #1 e-signature solution, meaning Offr users could trust it.
Many of Offr’s customers had no previous experience using an electronic signature before—having a simple solution that could be easily deployed and used was key. Offr CTO, Niall Dawson, was impressed by the simplicity of DocuSign eSignature. From a technology point of view, Niall was looking for an easy and flexible solution that could be seamlessly integrated with other systems—“I was blown away with how much you can do.”
DocuSign eSignature has been integrated into Offr’s platform since the day of its launch and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback.
Conscious of users' fear of making mistakes, Niall and the DocuSign team used the DocuSign eSignature API to build a simple workflow providing step-by-step guidance.
Real estate agents can have a certain fear of technology because they have little professional experience with it. Typically their experience and expertise has been in analogue processes so often they would be nervous of making costly mistakes in multi-million pound transactions
Making the most of electronic signatures
Offr has implemented eSignature everywhere in their business, wet signatures do not exist, internally or externally.
During the pandemic, in the middle of a lockdown, the organisation completed a fundraiser that set out to raise €1 million but ended up raising €3 million. This entire investment was closed online and was Ireland's first fully digital, fully remote investment transaction, with everyone working from home, including the lawyers. All investor pitches were made online, all legal documents were marked up and issued online, and all 41 signatures (many international investors) were executed using DocuSign eSignature.
There are two main uses for eSignature in the user journey:
At the start of the journey, an agency agreement is used by the estate agent to sign up new clients(who are sellers). This agreement, which lays out the terms and conditions of what will occur during the sale has to be signed by the seller.
And, towards the end of the journey the contract for sale needs to be signed by both the buyer and the seller in a private treaty (i.e. traditional) sale process, or in an auction process, where the auctioneer signs the contract on behalf of the buyer and seller.
In the case of an auction, once the auction is complete, Offr automatically generates a ‘signing page’ which has all of the details that the buyer, seller, solicitor and auctioneer need. This document is executed using eSignature and is embedded in the full contract that is produced for the specific property that acts as the main contract, is sent to both solicitors and is the legally binding contract that records the transaction.
In many cases, it is not Offr’s immediate customer that is signing these documents. The estate agent is Offr’s customer, but because eSignature is integrated into the workflow, their customers (buyers and sellers, tenants and landlords) are able to sign documentation. This has opened up an ecosystem where everybody involved in a property transaction has visibility into the agreements and can quickly execute contracts and move things along. As Robert notes: “This is where eSignature adds real power.”
eSignature is saving time, resources, money and paper
Offr offers two principal sale transaction types as a service to the industry: auction and non-auction. In both cases, electronic signatures have resulted in more efficient processes that are faster, less costly and less wasteful of resources and paper.
Non-auction is a variety of purchases including commercial, second-hand residential property and new homes. For non-auction property deals the time saving is dramatically reduced. Traditionally, when a property is being exchanged and all parties are ready to sign contracts, the buyer would have to make an appointment to travel into the buyer’s lawyer to physically sign two copies of the contract. Then that lawyer would have to send that set of contracts to the seller’s lawyer where the seller would have to countersign the contracts in person. The seller's lawyer would have to send one set of signed contracts back to the other lawyer. “That signing process alone took 2-3 weeks. With eSignature it takes 2 minutes,” Robert adds.
For auctions, before eSignature was implemented, auctioneers would have to print out all of the contracts in duplicate. These contracts would have to be physically signed with a wet signature by the buyers and sellers, or by the auctioneer on their behalf, and then sent to the sets of lawyers on both sides of each deal. It would not be uncommon for contracts of sale to weigh in at dozens of pages and if a change is ever required, the entire contract had to be reissued. Here, eSignature has been able to reduce costs as well as improving turnaround time and environmental protection
Offr is using eSignature to keep other businesses transacting
As a digital business, Offr has been able to function efficiently throughout the pandemic. From a customer perspective, it has seen a big increase in activity as traditional companies within the property industry have needed to quickly transition online. In order to support the industry, Offr made the decision to waive their monthly licence fees for a six month period in order to help businesses transition online.
Prior to the pandemic, the Offr team was spending as much time explaining the benefits of using online processes to the industry as they were about their own products. In 2020, they no longer needed to have these conversations—“there was no resistance to the idea that online processes should be used,” notes Robert.
There has been an irreversible shift in the property industry as Offr leads the way in the modernisation of the conservative industry—leveraging technology to give organisations the ability to continue to sign contracts and keep business open.
“I think that there's probably about five years worth of change accelerated into the last five months.” Robert Hoban, CEO, Offr
New users of Offr’s platform have been pleasantly surprised by how easy DocuSign eSignature is to use. After an initial walk-through, most are able to run the process themselves. This has proved invaluable to traditional businesses setting up the system remotely.
“There’s no big integrations required, there's no coding required—and it takes just a couple of minutes to add the Offr button to the agent’s website. That's been a big win for agents in being able to transition very quickly.”
Recently, there have been land sales that were destined for the physical auction. But within seven days of the auction itself, the auctioneer made the last minute decision to switch to an online auction. The companies contacted Offr and having never been a user of Off’s software, were fully set up within 24 hours and in under a week had successfully sold properties using eSignature to execute the contracts.
As Offr continues to trail-blaze digital transformation within the property industry, it will continue to work with DocuSign to bring innovative, useful technology to their customers.