Document Cheat Sheet for New Notary Signing Agents
You will need to become familiar with common documents before you start your career as a signing agent. Practice is the best way to gain confidence in presenting loan document to borrowers.
Obviously, you will need a stack of practice loan documents. As you have probably learned, finding a set of sample loan documents is not easy. We have located a couple of sources to share. Check the links below. (Links can become non-existent overnight, so if you want to save the documents for future use, you should do so fairly soon.)
Please note that the list of documents below is not inclusive of all mortgage loan documents that signing agents will encounter. The same is true for the sample loan documents at the links provided above.
We will comment on the order in which the documents should be presented. Before an appointment, many experienced notary signing agents put the documents in the order that they prefer to present them.
The specified order of the first seven documents below is the order that many signing agents find to be best for relieving borrower anxiety. They say that borrowers usually relax and everything falls into place if you present the first few documents as suggested. Other signing agents say that the order doesn’t matter; they can preside over signings no matter what order the documents are in. It is a personal preference.
It should be noted that some lenders and title companies will include instructions in packages regarding the order in which the documents must be presented. In such cases, you must follow those instructions.
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Please note that there is a descriptive statement for each document after its title. Generally, the documents that require notarization will state “Notarize.” after the description.
Become familiar with every document in every loan package that you can get your hands on; introduce them by stating the title of the document, giving its brief description, and state after making the introduction, “Please sign here when you are ready.” If there is a notary certificate attached to the document, you must ask the borrower(s) to acknowledge, swear, or affirm, as appropriate before signing. Once it is signed by the borrowers, signing agents usually notarize the document and move to the next one. Some signing agents wait until the end of the signing and perform all notarizations at once. Because strong opinions exist on this topic, we will not comment on whether they must be notarized immediately after the document is signed or at the end of the package.
1-Settlement Statement – This document shows all the settlement charges involved in your loan. It is self-explanatory. Please take time to look over the numbers.
2-Notice of Right to Cancel – This document allows borrowers to cancel the loan within three days from today. Please note the date [point to the date]. In other words, you can sign today and change your mind if you are not happy with something that you read in the documents later tonight. That way, you will not feel pressured to read every single word of the documents during this appointment. The lender requests that you both sign three of these. I will keep one; you will each keep two signed copies. [Whether it is necessary for all three copies to be signed at the table is another issue that is hotly debated by notary signing agents. Please ask your hiring entity if you are unclear.]
3-Deed of Trust or Mortgage – This document is also called a “security instrument.” It gives the lender an interest in your property; it will be recorded in the public (or real estate) records. (Notarize.)
4-Promissory Note or Real Estate Note – The note states how much you have borrowed [point to it], the length of time that you have to pay it back [point to it], and the interest rate [point to it].
5-Initial Escrow Disclosure – This discusses your escrow account.
6-Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement – This explains all costs of your loan.
7-1st Payment Letter – This explains when your first payment is due.
As noted above, the order of presentation of the remaining documents do not matter.
Uniform Residential Application – This is the application that you filled out at the beginning of your loan. You are requested to sign it again to confirm that it is accurate.
APR & Finance Charge Summary -- This explains the cost of your loan.
Itemization of Amount Financed Borrower(s) – This explains the amount financed.
Borrower(s) Acknowledgement of Receipt of Disclosures – This document says that you acknowledge receiving applicable disclosures.
Attorney Representation Notice – This document explains that the attorney who drew the documents does not work for you; he or she works for the lender.
Borrower Affidavit – Please review and state if you swear (or affirm) to the truthfulness of the contents of the document. (Notarize.)
Borrower's Closing Affidavit Borrower - Please review and advise if you swear (or affirm) to the truthfulness of the contents of the document. (Notarize.)
Certification and Authorization to Release Information – This describes when the lender may have to release information about you, the borrower.
Document Correction Agreement – This says that you will work with the lender to provide any additional information or funds required, if any, to complete the loan package. (Notarize.)
Error & Omissions/Compliance Agreement - You will work with the lender to provide any additional information requested to complete the loan package. (Notarize.)
Limited Power of Attorney/Correction Agreement – This is another document that allows correction of the documents for clerical or scrivener’s errors. (Notarize.)
Name Affidavit – This document lists names that you have been known as. Please sign as stated by names that you have been known by. Do not sign by names that do not apply to you. If it does not apply to you, you may want to complete the blank with a couple of words that explain that. (Notarize.) [Note that whether or not a signature is required on this type of affidavit varies significantly.]
Notice of Assign, Sale or Transfer of Servicing Rights – You understand that this loan may be sold or assigned to a loan servicer.
Notice of No Oral Agreements – This says that there are no oral agreements between parties that are not documented in the loan documents.
Collateral Protection Insurance Notice - You understand that you must keep the property insured.
4506-T Cover Sheet – You agree that the lender may collect a copy of your tax return from the IRS.
Form 4506 -- You agree that the lender may collect a copy of your tax return from the IRS.
Patriot Act Form – This relates to identification of the borrowers. It is required.
Signature Affidavit – This document lists names that you have been known as. Please sign as stated by names that you have been known by. Do not sign by names that do not apply to you. If it does not apply to you, you may want to complete the blank with a couple of words that explain that. (Notarize.)
Below are documents that may be called “title documents.”
Marital Status Affidavit – This document requests that you swear to information about your marital history. (Notarize.)
Refinance Affidavit – In this document, you confirm information about the property related to your loan. (Notarize.)
Survey Affidavit – This document relates to facts about your current property survey. (Notarize.)
Affidavit of Debts and Liens – This document makes statements about liens that you may have on the property that relates to your loan. (Notarize.)
Homestead Affidavit – This says that you state this is your primary home, your homestead. (Notarize.)
TIP: Many documents may be duplicated by the lender and title company. Each may have their own forms that they want completed even though they seem just like one that has been completed already. Do not be surprised if there are various forms of several documents to be signed and don’t skip any because they seem like duplicates. Just collect signatures and notarize as requested.
Signing agent “script”
Most signing agents become so familiar with documents that, by their tenth signing, they have a patented script of their own, which they can recite easily. Don’t be concerned if it seems extremely difficult the first few times. Download a set of documents and start working on your script today!
Borrowers have questions. Some have several and some have one or two. Learn where to find the answers. You can only answer a question that is in black and white in one of the documents. Point to the answer and say, “Does this answer your question?”
You can answer a question about when the first payment is due or how much the interest rate will be. You cannot answer, “Why am I being charged this much for a loan origination fee?” Call your hiring entity when a question of that nature arises.
Completing notary certificates
Neatly print on your notary certificates. Check to make sure that every notary certificate has the correct venue (state and county) on it. The venue is where you are during the notarization.
If a document has a jurat and an acknowledgment attached to it, it is not up to you to decide that you will not complete one of them. Complete both.
Do not add a certificate to a document if one is not already attached to it. If your state will not allow the wording on a certificate, you may attach a certificate and complete.
Some companies ask for an extra notary certificate to be returned with the documents. Ignore that request. You cannot return a loose notary certificate for them to use on any other document.
Never backdate a notary certificate. You MUST date your certificate with the date on which you are completing the notarization.
Do not notarize the document if the party isn’t present!
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Notice of Disclaimer: The information provided herein is not intended to be an authoritative statement of law. Notary laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and may be interpreted or applied differently depending on your state’s statutes or situations. By providing this information, we are not acting as your attorney. We are providing this information based on long-established and recognized notarial standards and practices. If you have legal questions regarding acts or conduct as a notary public, please consult with an attorney or refer to your state’s statutes or other appropriate legal resources.
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.