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 notary’s advice, this woman went out, got her notary commission and stamp, and called me looking for work. Unfortunately, what the notary didn’t 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 aren’t searching all the necessary records or for the appropriate length of time. Do some research, call companies you’d 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 aren’t 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 “smart phone” to check your email for messages and orders. A typical loan package averages about 150 pages, so that’s 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. That’s 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 don’t 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. It’s helpful to have some personalized guidance when you first start out.
- Don’t 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. That’s 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 don’t pay their signing agents?
Finally, check your state’s 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 isn’t 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
Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries, Inc. seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information and ideas for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary educations, and securing their notary stamps and notary supplies but makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained. Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.
Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.