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There's a Whole Lot of Cranky San Francisco Realtors Out There

These days, you might be seeing a lot of SF Realtors walking around with more gray hair, muttering curse words under their breaths and breaking out to into hives.  You see other SF real estate agents pulling out clumps of hair, going into cold sweats and breaking apart their computer equipment with hammers.

So what’s going on?

It’s not the real estate market.  The SF market is actually doing remarkably well as compared to the last few years.

So what has us going crazy?

First, the back story…..

Well, as technology improves, we as a real estate industry have been working towards paperless transactions.  For years now, in San Francisco, we’ve been using technology (most of it web-based) that was brought to us by the California Association of Realtors (CAR).  It was called WinForms and it had all of the forms we needed to do our jobs.  It had both California forms and San Francisco forms (because, come on, we do EVERYTHING differently in San Francisco, so of course, our forms need to be different too!)

In addition to WinForms, we were able to use DocuSign to quickly and efficiently create electronic signatures on documents.  It meant we could email a contract or a disclosure to a client for their electronic and binding signature.  No faxing and more importantly, no paper.  All forms were saved as PDF’s.

Well, the San Francisco Association of Realtors (SFAR) at some point decided to add a new system to the mix to host the San Francisco Forms and more.  The idea was to integrate four separate components – Tax Records, MLS, Form Writing AND Electronic signatures.  The Forms component is run by a company called InstaNet and is called Transaction Desk.  The Electronic Signature component is called AuthentiSign.  In theory, this entire 4 part system was supposed to work seamlessly.  All integrated, saving us time and resources, like paper work.

But like a lot of things that are supposed to work great in theory, in practice… they don’t always fall into place the way that they should.

So where does it go wrong….

If  we compare the CAR to mommy and the SFAR to daddy, and San Francisco real estate agents to the children, all the poor kids know is that mommy and daddy are in the middle of the a NASTY divorce, the kids are stuck in the middle and mommy and daddy are each talking some crazy smack about each other and we don’t know who to believe.

We’re not really sure the details of the story.  But as SF real estate agents that aren’t involved in the divorce, we don’t know what to believe.  Mommy says daddy is a deadbeat that owes her money.  Daddy says mommy is a liar and is just a stubborn bitch that isn’t willing to compromise.

In December, we were told of this awesome product the SFAR was going to bestow upon us.  Shortly after, we were told the CAR was taking away the use of our forms on their platform.  They created their own forms for SF agents to use, but SFAR told us not to use those forms – they’re sub-par (and I’ll admit, they are.)

An agreement was struck to give us use of the SFAR forms on the CAR platform till the end of January (if you’re keeping track, mommy and daddy fought for two months before the divorce settlement) and as of February 1st, we were left along with just SFAR’s platform.

Now this would all be fine and well – except for a few major problems.   The SFAR’s platform is still not fully functional.  The interface is cumbersome, there are lots of bugs in the system and parts of it, like AuthentiSign don’t work at all.  As far as AuthentiSign goes, we were told it was all fine until 1 email mid-last week from one of our Zephyr managers that is trying to help navigate this mess and then finally, an email from the SFAR on Friday telling us THAT part just doesn’t work!

Since SFAR announced to members that it will be providing Authentisign™, Instanet Solutions’ electronic signature service as a free member benefit, many REALTORS® have tested it out and provided us with invaluable feedback.
Although Authentisign™ integrates seamlessly with Instanet Solutions’ TransactionDesk™, and allows documents and forms requiring signatures to be easily e-mailed, faxed, or uploaded into a signing, there are some aspects of the service which are in need of improvement in order to meet the expectations that SFAR has for the service. For example, members are reporting that they are unable to complete signings and that the templates needed to facilitate automated tagging of forms are not yet in place.
Authentisign™ is the most recently developed component of the TransactionDesk™ platform, and unlike the balance of the system, is not yet ready for member use. We apologize for any inconvenience the premature offering of the service has caused.
As we wait for the updates, SFAR is advising members to continue using DocuSign® for the time being. Once Authentisign™ is updated to be a reasonable substitute for DocuSign®, members will be able to take full advantage of this free service.

Now let’s not forget, we’ve been going to trainings on the new system and struggling to make it work for almost 2.5 months. If we were to add up all of the hours wasted by all SF Realtors spinning wheels on a product that doesn’t work, I’d guess it’s in the thousands.  And while, at least at Zephyr, our support staff is doing the best they can to try to help us work through the kinks, we’re still left with a lot of frustration.  To give due credit, the powers that be ARE working on the bugs.  But in the meantime, several San Francisco agents have even started a support group on Facebook – together we cry, laugh and report problems that hopefully get reported back to the software developer.

Ultimately though, we really just want mommy (CAR) and daddy (SFAR) to get back together.  We’d like them to both be there for us like they promise they will be when they collect our dues.  We’d like them to be honest with us and tell us where things really went wrong for them.  And, of course, we’d like them to figure out a way to make it so that we don’t have to resort to a variety of creative backwards solutions to get our jobs done without pulling out more clumps of hair.

Mommy, daddy, if you’re listening…. please make up.  Your children are the ones suffering in your divorce and soon, we’re all going to need to go to family counseling. :-/