Thinking of Becoming a Notary Signing Agent?
I recently received a call from a woman asking if I would mentor her as a notary signing agent. She explained that due to unforeseen circumstances, she needed to find more flexible employment. As fate would have it, a notary signing agent (NSA) had come to her home for a signing, and she expressed her interest. The notary told her it was good money with flexibility and suggested she get her notary commission and give it a try.
Taking the notaryís advice, this woman went out, got her notary commission and stamp, and called me looking for work. Unfortunately, what the notary didnít tell the customer was everything else required to be a loan signing agent. If you are a notary looking to be a NSA, here are some important things to know before embarking on a potential new career:
- A yearly background check and an errors and omissions insurance policy is required by most companies. 1) Not every background check is created equal. A cheaper check usually means they arenít searching all the necessary records or for the appropriate length of time. Do some research, call† companies youíd like to work for, and see if they have a preferred background check vendor. 2) A $25,000 errors and omission insurance policy is standard, but there are some title insurance underwriters that require $100,000. If you arenít certain what coverage amount works† for† you, speak to an insurance professional regarding your set of circumstances. 3) Some states require a surety bond as a condition of your commission. 4)††Certain companies, as proof of competence, ask that you complete a yearly training certification. The cost of this certification varies depending on the company providing the† † † † † † † † † † † †training. Check with your customers to confirm if they have a preferred vendor.
- In addition to your notary stamp, there are other necessary tools of the trade. You need a ďsmart phoneĒ to check your email for messages and orders. A typical loan package averages about 150 pages, so thatís about 300 pages per signing with one set being returned to the title company/lender and the other staying with the borrower. Depending on how many signings you do a week, you will be printing thousands of pages. Thatís a lot of wear and tear on the average printer as well as an exorbitant amount of toner you will go through. You will likely have to invest in a business-class printer that prints both letter- and legal-sized sheets and has the ability to scan and fax.
- If you donít have previous experience in loan signings, you are going to need some training. There are several good programs available. Do your due diligence before deciding on one. If possible, get a mentor. Itís helpful to have some personalized guidance when you first start out.
- Donít forget you are a mobile notary. Depending on where you live, how much work you want, and the number of notaries in your area willing to travel, you may be doing more driving than you are accustomed to doing. Thatís an increase in gas expense and wear and tear on your car. Also, your car insurance premium may change as your vehicle is now used for your business.
- Most importantly, you will be dealing with all types of people from different walks of life and you will be entering their personal space. Not everyone lives like you do. Not everyone is nice or easy to deal with. Not everyone has a clean house or well-behaved pets. You need to be able to remain professional and calm and organized in the face of adversity while still doing your job.
Being a notary signing agent carrier is a serious business -- it is not a hobby. Notarizing mortgage documents leaves very little room for error; you can expose yourself to substantial liability from the borrowers, from the customer, or for violating any of your state notary laws.
The market is saturated with notary signing agents. There are over 4.5 million notaries nationwide, and tens of thousands are already experienced signing agents. Before you start, get an idea of your local competition by visiting an online notary locator or speaking to a notary already conducting loan signings.
Research the average pay for a loan signing agent in your area and determine what your expenses will be. Can you be profitable in this industry? Can you wait 30, 60 or 90 days to be paid? Are you aware that there are companies that are not reputable and donít pay their signing agents?
Finally, check your stateís requirements and applicable laws. Is your state an attorney state? Many states allow only attorneys to conduct, or be involved in, a real estate closing.†
This information isnít intended to dissuade you, but to prepare you for what is a very rewarding career for most notary signing agents. Knowing at the outset what is required will help you better decide if being an NSA is right for you.
Marcy Tiberio,†is a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries