I am active on several social media forums and see some Notary Signing Agents complaining about the competition in their area taking away their business, fees offered that do not allow them to make a living and complaints from others that the business is slow and there is little work.
This industry has become flooded with a lot of hopeful NSAs who have been misled to believe that this is a quick and easy way to make a lot of money. I know for a fact that it doesn't take too long before they realize that this job is not what they thought it would be and they are out of business. This industry has always been one that is busy for long periods of time with periods of time when it is slow. The true professionals understand this and prepare for it.
My advice to my students is to work very hard getting in with as many companies as they can. We offer our graduates a list of companies who are top rated companies seeking highly trained certified Notary Signing Agents. It takes a lot of time and patience to reach out to them and to provide them with whatever documentation they require. It requires repeat phone calls and emails. Be the squeaky wheel so they remember you and where you are located. You WILL start to get calls. When you do, make sure that you get enough money to, not just pay your expenses, but are able to make a decent profit. Otherwise you will be one of those who quickly go out of business.
Treat every signing as though it was the only one you have! Do your best to be error free and give great customer service. It only takes a couple of signings to rise above the rest and become a company’s GO TO person.
And lastly, diversify! We offer additional training so that our graduates can add other skills to their businesses which allow them to continue to earn money even if times are a little slow. Do General Notary Work (GNW) as well. There is so much you can do to get this business and it can be very lucrative.
Instead of whining and complaining spend your valuable time doing something to put yourself above the rest! Believe in yourself because your failure is YOUR FAILURE, no one else’s!
Right now a majority of lenders are requiring only background checks from the NNA. There are other companies out there providing the identical background screenings using the same criteria but for a lower price. We want to know how you feel about the requirements that you must be background screened through the NNA only.
Please comment so we can let the CFPB know how we feel about this and maybe we can all make a difference.
When I was young our 12 inch black and white TV had only 2 to 3 channels available during the day, a drawing of the American Indian on the screen in the evening until midnight, when the Star Spangled Banner played and the TV went off. Things like cell phones, computers, video games and the internet did not even exist for me for many years so it is amazing to me that I am now dependent on the internet to run a successful business.
After retiring as an Escrow Manager I was not content to sit in the rocking chair all day so I entered into the very new field of being a Notary Signing Agent (NSA). Even though my background included working with Buyers and Borrowers and their real estate transactions, I searched for some comprehensive training but there was none available, so I dove in and trained myself.
After doing this job for a number of years I was convinced that there was a tremendous need for some really good training. There were a lot of people all over the country doing this job and for the most part they had to really struggle to learn. By 2009 I had successfully completed about 6,000 signings. I loved this job but based on my interaction with various companies and borrowers I was well aware that there were a lot of people doing this job who did not have a clue as to how to do it well. That was when I decided to create a course which would teach notaries how to become truly “Professional Notary Signing Agents”. And so in 2009, at the age of 66, I created “Notary2Pro”. I literally worked day and night putting the program together but here were some of the obstacles I faced:
And the solutions to my problems were:
It took a full year but finally giving the course away for free started to pay off and little by little we began to get referrals from title companies and signing services. Our students loved what we had to offer and began to bring in other students.
Now here we are in 2015 celebrating our 6th anniversary. WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY since the beginning! We have thousands of successful NSA’s all over the country, recognition from a lot of hiring companies who trust and value our graduates, almost 100% of our business is from referrals only and we are, little by little, accomplishing my original goal of “Raising the Bar in this Industry” and to act as an advocate for notaries everywhere.
What will the future bring? No one can know that, but for now, I am blessed to have my daughter Barbara working with me, I am happy to have a good reputation in this industry and so grateful to have lots of wonderful graduates who make me so proud every day!
One of the things I love about this business is the daily surprises that await you when you are out doing your signings.
You never know, for instance, what the houses look like both outside and inside until you actually get there. For me, one of the fun things has always been to peak into people’s private lives to see how they live. How is their home decorated? Is it clean or dirty? Organized or disorganized? And of course the troublesome question, do they have a table to use for the signing?
Here are a few tips with regard to the homes we visit.
When you are setting up the appointment with the borrower’s, try to get some idea from them what you should be looking for to help locate their home. GPS systems are great but sometimes finding a house number can be very difficult. We are heading into shorter days now so a lot of our signings will take place after dark. In the area we live in the developers here are idiots in one respect. They think it looks great to have the house number the same color as the exterior of the home. Try to find those numbers in the dark. A large flashlight (which you should always carry) is terrific but even with one finding those house numbers can be next to impossible.
So sometime during your confirmation conversation, ask if there are any distinguishing marks that differentiate their home from their neighbors. Ask what lights will be on and what will be parked in the driveway. Sometimes they will have a crazy mailbox at the curb or a statue of an animal on the lawn. Every detail helps. If all else fails, don’t hesitate to call the borrower when you are on their block and ask them to come outside and hail you down.
Coming soon, “IN WHAT CONDITION IS THE INSIDE OF THE HOUSE?”
If you have any topics you would like to see discussed in these blogs please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Use today to explore all of your opportunities. You may have to knock on a lot of doors before opportunity will come knocking at your door. Have a wonderful day.
Why is having a web presence important? It is important more now that it would have been ten years ago. More and more people are online shopping, banking and even socializing. So many people have their social media accounts like; Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Instagram, etc. that they make their presence known. We are always being bombarded by the “likes”, “follow me” and “friend” requests that sometimes we just want to unplug. Unfortunately in today’s society we can’t afford to unplug. So what do we do?
Well first of all join them; that’s right “friend” and “like” as many people as you can. Post what you can when you can especially if it is something important. Get on as many accounts as you can after all the more social media you are on sometimes the better off you are. I will explain shortly.
Even with all of these sites, there is one thing you might want to consider; a website. Why? Well, first off, without sounding hypocritical, with too much social media you can get lost in the mix. Yes, you can like, share, follow and tweet but how much of you is really there. With a website you can personalize it to suit you, your business or whatever you want it for. If you have a special hobby that you want to promote, or a business that you want to market, or even have a website as a personal biography, a website is the best tool out there. There are more and more companies that allow you to link all of your “social media” icons to your site that you will be heard one way or another.
When looking for a website make sure that you are able to not only link your website to all the social media sites but that you have Search Engine Optimization (SEO); also known as key words. They help the search engines find you. SEO and social media are important because you want to make sure that if you post something (on any one of your sites) that it leads to your website. The best example is blogging. You can blog on your website and then post on your sites that you have posted a new blog. That drives traffic to your site and you want that especially if you have a product or service that you offer. The more “contacts” you have the more the word gets out about you, your product or service.
What should you have on your website? Well, that is completely up to you. I create websites for Loan Signing Agents and I usually do three pages but for the “commercial” companies I do upwards of 20+ pages. You want to make sure that you have enough pages available to accommodate growth. You want to make sure, as I stated earlier, that you have SEO and blog capabilities. If you don’t want to blog that’s okay but it is a good way to inform people of what you are doing, etc.
Who should I purchase a website from? Well, that is another subjective answer. Besides me, well I know who I would recommend because I am familiar with what they have to offer. Do you want a site that you can build yourself even/especially with no experience; perhaps. Do you want a free site; maybe. There are some advantages but also disadvantages to a free site and I will touch on that in a while. What is your budget and how much work do actually want to do on the site? All of these are valid questions and can seem overwhelming. I am here to assist you. Here comes the shameless plug, but you will see why shortly.
The sites I create are user friendly, because I am the only one using them; which means I create, maintain and you don’t have to do anything except promote it. I have low overhead so I can offer lower rates and I am fast so I can make the changes you need immediately (realistically within 24 hours). I am also good a creating the best site for you based on a few simple questions. That being said, these websites also allow you to have photo galleries; slide shows, You Tube videos, password protection, selling features and much more. The difference between me and the other “site” builders out there is that I charge at least half to two-thirds less than what they do.
Yes, there are many (free) sites out there that boast they offer easy to do websites and templates but not all of them are easy; believe me I learned the hard way. These sites are also in the business to make money so if you want to add the bells and whistles to your site; and that includes eliminating ads; then be prepared to pay. Technically those “free” sites aren’t free. If you pay someone to build your site (me or someone else) make sure that they will make any changes you need for no charge (not the whole site of course). Make sure that they are maintaining the site, keeping it active, etc.
There are more items to consider but those are the “important” ones to be answered right now. I will blog more about web presence but for now I will leave you with this…
Now comes the fun part: deciding on a website, a domain name (the www.) and the colors. Good Luck.
If you choose to go through me and say you saw this blog, I will give you 10% off a website. You can call me at 916.777.5931,
visit my website at www.everythingelsemarketing.com or email me at email@example.com
When my husband Bill and I moved back to Northern California a couple of years ago it was with great excitement we relocated to the California Delta which is an area comprised of about 70 islands surrounded by over 1100 miles of waterway. When we lived here before we had a pontoon boat, but when we moved to Arizona, there was no reason to keep this boat in the desert so we sold it.
Now we are back and the dream was to be able to purchase a small pontoon boat that the two of us could use to putter around the rivers that surround the islands.
A few weeks ago Bill found an ad on Craigslist for a 2006, 20’ pontoon boat in excellent condition with only 156 hours on the motor. The pictures were great! It had been kept in a garage all of these years and the cost was $2,500.00. We got in touch with the owner and when she sent me an email (not a phone call); I found out that the boat was not in California but in Montana. Her story was devastating and I actually cried and felt sick after hearing it. She had recently lost her husband and her 19 year old son in an auto accident. A drunk driver hit her husband’s car and they both died immediately. She could not bear to have the boat around her any longer because it brought back so many memories.
She then told me that the boat was being held by EBay Motors and could be shipped to us in two days. We would not pay until we had the opportunity to inspect the boat. By the way she wrote, I assumed she was a woman in her 50’s who was devastated by her loss.
We told her yes, we did want the boat and agreed to the terms. We than received the official 2 page notification from EBay Motors with instructions. However, on this paperwork we were to send them the money via MoneyGram and it would be refunded if we did not accept the condition of the boat. When I pulled that out of my printer I had an immediate gut reaction that something was not right. I took the paperwork to my Assistant/Daughter Barbara. She is a huge customer on EBay and knew just who to call. It WAS a scam! My gut, as always, was right on!!
I decided to string the person (woman??) along to see if there was anything I could do to bring these people down. Suddenly the tone of the emails totally changed from this sweet grieving widow to all business with step by step instructions as to what we should do next. I reached out to the FTC and spoke with someone there about this fraud and was told that there was nothing we could do to these people because on the internet it was impossible to locate them.
However, they did tell me to send the information to: firstname.lastname@example.org and to never open any more emails, never take any phone calls and to have nothing to do with these people ever again. I followed the instructions and Craigslist removed the posting by morning the next day and I never heard another word from “Evelyn” again.
It did not cost us anything but I must admit the disappointment of not being able to have the boat was hard to take. But, we will continue to work hard, try to save money and hope to find a small used boat in good shape one of these days but it will not be an online purchase.
The owner of a successful signing service called me and she sounded a little down. When I asked her if something was wrong she told me she had a day full of “notary problems”. This was a conversation that really bothered me. We all realize that there are a lot of Signing Agents doing less than a perfect job with their signings and their customer service doesn’t exist, But what she had to tell me was really awful. She hired a couple of notaries to do signings. She found both of them on one of the better known professional databases. Both Notaries advertised that they were very experienced.
She received a call from one of the signing agents while at the signing. The question was, “I have something called a Notice of Right to Cancel, what am I supposed to do with this?”. WHAT!
She received another call from a title company letting her know that the Notary (who advertised herself as having done over 5,000 signings), did not return a Deed of Trust in the package. Come to find out the lender failed to include one in the package. My question is, WHAT KIND of Signing Agent would go through an entire signing without realizing that there is no security instrument in the package?
I teach my students the importance of going through the documents as they are being printed to double check them. They need to be the right size, right print and they need to make sure all documents did print correctly per the instructions provided them.
Well, bad on me! It never crossed my mind to teach them to make sure that there are things like a Note or Deed of Trust in the package. So this will serve as notice to all of you students, graduates and Signing Agents. Please double check your documents to make sure that when dealing with LOAN DOCUMENTS there is a Note and a Mortgage or Deed of Trust. If not, call your vendor and let them know what you need before you go to your signing.
And, to those of you who advertise your experience, you had better have the experience you claim to have because if you are lying it will catch up with you eventually. Our students are told to be truthful and never claim experience they don’t have. So if you see a bio of someone who is a recent graduate of Notary2Pro, you will see that they post other experiences and qualifications showing why will be really good signing agents. Because they are graduates of Notary2Pro you can feel very comfortable hiring them!
Occasionally you may encounter an individual who is physically unable to write a signature. In these instances, it still may be possible to perform a notarization as long as the signer can make an ‘X’ or similar mark. This procedure is called signature by mark.
I had a young man who could only make his mark by placing a pen in his mouth and applying it to the document. I visited him once a year for 5 years and we used this rule only the first time he signed. After that I knew his signature and watched him sign in this fashion.
With two witnesses present, have the signer make the ‘X’ or similar mark on the document in place of a signature. The witnesses should not be relatives, or have any connection to the transaction. The witnesses then sign their names on the document, and one witness writes the signer’s name next to the mark.
Normal certificate wording is still used for the notarization. Only the signer’s name should be included in the certificate. The witnesses’ names and signatures should be included in your journal entry. You also should check your state law for any additional requirements.
Sample: (witnesses sign, witness)
_____X____ Jim Evans, witness Susan Brock, witness
Mark affixed by George Drake in the presence of Jim Evans and Susan Brock, and undersigned Notary Public, pursuant to Subsection C of Section 7 of the Notary Public Act.
This instrument was acknowledged before me on ________________(date) by __George Drake_______________________.
print notary name, Notary Public under line
Apply your stamp/seal
There has been some conversation lately on the internet regarding loan packages that contain a form for the notary to complete and sign. On these various forms the lender is asking the notary to complete information about themselves, sign it and apply their stamp to it. The excuse is that they want to have you prove your are a commissioned notary even though your stamp/seal is all over the documents!
This is a NO NO! In most, if not all states, it is illegal for you to apply your stamp/seal to any document which you are not actually acknowledging. If the borrower is signing the document and there is no place for you to sign, then there is no Acknowledgment required. The only variance here would if there is a notation for you to attach a separate acknowledgement to the document.
If the document requires your signature, but not the borrowers, then there is no acknowledgement. You cannot notarize your own signature.
If the document requires both your signature and the borrower’s then you will most like be completing a certificate, either an Acknowledgment or a Jurat, and your stamp must be applied here.
When you are faced with one of those documents that ask for or require your stamp, just write a little note stating: “It is illegal for me to use my stamp/seal on anything other than a certificate”. This should take care of the situation.
If you have a lender who does not require a copy of the borrower’s identification, but is looking for verification that you properly identified them, you can do the following: Take a copy of the borrower’s identification, have the borrower state that it is a true copy of their identification, have them sign the copy and you can then notarize their signatures. This should satisfy the lender.
OH the weird things we as signing agents face!
I want to go back to the beginning. In early 2012, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices of service providers. They were created as an answer to the 2007 mortgage melt down which occurred as a result of the deceptions to borrowers by lenders, banks, mortgage brokers and loan officers, etc.
The following is an excerpt from a bulletin published by the CFPB. To read the entire bulletin please click here.
In April, 2012 the following was announced: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today released a bulletin clarifying that financial institutions under Bureau supervision may be held responsible for the actions of the companies with which they contract. The Bureau will take a close look at service providers’ interactions with consumers. It will hold all appropriate companies accountable when legal violations occur.
Many people, including myself, believe that this endeavor was never meant to include Notary Signing Agents who are independent contractors.
Upon learning about the formation of the CFPB and the new requirements which would be placed on financial institutions, the National Notary Association assisted a group of lenders and title companies to put together a “Signing Professionals Workgroup” (SPW). These financial institutions could not come together as a group themselves because they may be accused of breaking Anti-Trust laws.
To avoid any Anti-Trust issues the NNA used their association to allow commercial members of the NNA to form this group. The NNA purchased the domain name, created their website and act as “advisors” to the SPW. The cost to belong to the SPW was $2,000.00 each.
Since the information was released by the National Notary Association (NNA) about the creation of the Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW) many Notary Signing Agents have been frantically reaching out for information about how the creation of this group would impact them.
I believe that the NNA and the members of the SPW put their own interpretation on the CFPB bulletin and decided to run with it. They have created the misleading perception that these guidelines are going to require banks and lending institutions to be responsible for your behavior as an NSA. They want to check everything you do from the way you control your personal finances to exactly what you should be saying to each and every borrower when you enter their home or business. I think that there is definitely an element of fear and that many NSAs are intimidated by the prospect of not being prepared for this new requirement.
The SPW created several documents outlining their new demands of NSAs, including a “Code of Conduct” and a “Signing Script”, etc. In order to be hired by any member of this group the NSA must agree to meet these demands. They must also have additional training and would be required to have a specific certification and bear the title of “Certified Signing Specialists” (CSS). All of this was decided by the SPW and there has been no representation by Notary Signing Agents at any of the SPW meetings.
When the NNA and the SPW released the information regarding these demands, many NSAs were under the impression that this was soon to be law. They flocked to the NNA to make sure they were going to be “legal”. Many of you are under the impression that if you do not fulfill the demands of the SPW, you will be breaking the law.
So I want to be very clear. These demands are being placed upon you by members of the SPW only. Neither the NNA nor the SPW has the ability to create laws. Some of the demands that this group has created, in my opinion, are so restrictive and self-serving to this group that as an NSA myself I would refuse to follow them. Many people and so far a number of State officials have determined that these demands are actually putting NSAs into the realm of an employee without benefits, rather than the independent contractors we are.
The members of the SPW are comprised of a few of the major lenders and/or title companies. They are certainly not even close to being the majority of lenders and title companies who keep NSAs working. So if you are afraid you will never get work if you do not comply, keep in mind that there are a number of lenders and title companies who are not members of this group.
And do not forget. You are commissioned and are a public servant of your State. I believe that each state will have something to say about the demands being placed upon you by the SPW.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Here are the things you need to do to make sure you can continue to work as a Professional Signing Agent:
· Maintain a current commission issued by your State.
· Adhere to the Rules and Regulations of your State.
· Properly educate yourself for the protection of both the borrowers and yourself.
· Provide a background check which is compliant with the law. (This is another topic).
· Provide information to hiring companies which fulfill their requirements.
Another element, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) who issued a bulletin on October 30, 2013. I read every word of this extremely lengthy release regarding Guidance to national banks and federal savings associations and do not see how Notary Signing Agents will be involved in their roles as independent contractors. I think the intent in this guidance is yet to be determined. Until we learn of our involvement I would suggest that you do not panic and don’t let people lead you to believe that you need to spend money to be approved. Just take a “wait and see” attitude.
I want all of my current and future students and graduates to know, that whatever the outcome is, I will make sure that one way or another Notary2Pro will do it’s best to provide you with the tools you need to fulfill whatever educational requirements are demanded of you.