American Association of Notaries Articles
How to Get Your First Assignment as a Signing Agent
Many of you may have obtained your notary commission at the request of an employer so that you may provide in-house notarial services at the workplace. Others of you may have simply become a notary because you imagined it was an interesting pursuit, not quite knowing where you would go with your notary commission once you obtained it. As a public servant, your notarial fees - though they vary from state to state - are quite minimal; understandably you may wonder how you can parlay this new credential into a profitable venture.
Many notaries have taken the next step in their notarial careers by becoming a notary signing agent. Notary Signing Agents are duly commissioned notaries who provide mobile notary services to various entities such as banks, title and escrow companies, and law firms. While mobile notary signing agents may perform any and all of the notarial tasks allowable in their jurisdiction, most signing agents are primarily involved in the execution of loan packages for individuals who are refinancing home loans, obtaining an equity line of credit, or buying or selling a second home. Signing agent services can be performed on a full-time or part-time basis, either as a full-time career or simply as an additional source of income, depending on the notary's availability and personal desire.
Before embarking on a signing agent career, it is a good idea to refresh your understanding of notarial tasks and procedures and become very familiar with all of the laws and statutes of your particular state. It will be important when serving as a notary signing agent that you perform your duties with skill and confidence; potential clients will expect this from you and take your knowledge of correct procedure for granted. Once you are confident in your basic notarial skills, it is again prudent to seek out training specific to the signing agent role, that of executing bank and loan documents. This training is important because as a signing agent you will be presented with documents and legal instruments such as settlement statements, deeds of trust, and rescission documents with which you are likely unfamiliar. Training will familiarize you with these and other types of documents you can expect to see on a regular basis and explain how they should be handled at the loan signing table.
There are many resources on the internet from which to choose when pursuing this education. We highly recommend the NotarytoProTraining Program found at http://notary2pro.com/, which offers a very high level of training in everything you need to know about how to become a skilled notary signing agent and also offers certification that is recognized throughout the industry. Receiving certification is an important plus that will set you apart from other agents who do not have it.
Once your training is complete, you are ready to receive your first assignment as a notary signing agent. The easiest way to make yourself available for signing agent assignments is to sign-up with companies - called Notary Signing Agencies - online. You can simply type the words "mobile notary companies" or "notary signing agencies" in your search engine, and multiple companies and their websites will be shown. Notaries should systematically enroll with as many companies as possible to increases their chances of being called for an assignment. Be sure to read the provided information on the website carefully to determine the area(s) serviced by the agency. Most agencies service entities nationwide, but some may only service a local area such as the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. This will not be a place to sign-up if your commission and jurisdiction is for the State of Texas.
You may be asked to execute a service agreement or contract that states what the agency expects from you and what you can expect from the agency. Make sure you don't sign until you've read every word and agree with everything that has been written. There are also lists of documents that most all agencies will request, such as a W9, a copy of your notary commission, your notary bond and/or errors and omissions insurance policy, a copy of your driver's license, and your tax id. It is a good idea to keep digital copies of these documents on your computer so that you can simply email them to any company who requests them. These agencies will ask you which areas you are willing to cover, such as specific counties in your state or individual zip codes. They will also want to know what hours you are available; that may be full time, evenings and weekends, or whatever your schedule permits.
Some companies offer a flat fee for specific types of jobs such as $100.00 for a refinance or $50.00 for a loan modification; others will ask you what fees you charge for these jobs. If you are just starting out, you may not know how much to charge for these assignments. Social websites such as LinkedIn have forums for notaries to exchange ideas and questions; join up with these resources to find out what other notaries in your area are charging so that you can remain competitive. Once all of your information has been submitted, you will be called for an assignment as soon as the company has a job in your area.
When you receive an assignment from a signing agency, you are working as a third party service provider. The signing agency is finding competent notaries on behalf of another entity. Another way to receive signing agent assignments is to directly market yourself to these other entities such as banks and title companies. When you work as a third party service provider, your fee is divided with the provider, which is the agency.
You can command a higher fee if you work directly with the bank or title company because then there is no middle man with whom to share the fee. It is a smart idea to make up business cards and flyers or brochures delineating your range of services and listing your credentials and certifications so that you will make a professional impression on those from whom you're seeking assignments. You can seek out all of the local banking institutions, title and escrow companies, or real estate offices in your area, either by going door-to-door or by sending introductory packets by mail. It is a good idea to follow-up with a phone call to make sure your package has been received.
Obviously, there is much work involved in marketing yourself as a signing agent. It is a worthwhile investment; the rewards can be great. Excellent marketing added to sharp skills and training equal a good start to your new career as a notary signing agent.