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January 22, 2017

How long does it take to get through a signing?

Filed under: Best Practices — Tags: , — admin @ 11:52 pm

Most Notaries allow around an hour for a signing. But, for a HELOC, Reverse Mortgage, or other longer packages, the timing can be unpredictable.

I did a huge construction loan for someone. I was in and out in 20 minutes with a 180 page package. He was a business professional and knew the drill. He didn’t read. He just signed. There are others who read all day at your expense.

One Notary claimed her average signing is 45 minutes. But, it depends on the lender and the type of package, type of borrower, number of pages, etc. Another Notary on Linked In claimed 45 minutes to an hour. A third Notary claimed 45 minutes as well. A forth Notary kept track of her signings over the course of a year and came up with the figure or 45-75 minutes unless there are multiple signers in which case it might take 15 or more minutes longer.

Older clients (the kind that leave their left blinker on for half an hour in Florida) might need 90 minutes for a signing. They can barely see their pen, so how can they possibly know what they are signing?

The considerations for how long a package will take to complete should be thought about in this order.

Age determines how long a package will take to complete more than any other factor. Elderly people cannot see well, can’t hold a pen well sometimes, and get very tired. Allow a lot of extra time for Reverse Mortgages, Hospital signings, etc.

Professional businessmen can get in and out of a signing quickly, unless they make you wait for their busy partner to arrive which might take an additional ninety minutes without waiting time unless you negotiate well.

# of Signers
If you have five signers, you might be there for a while. They will have more bathroom breaks, more showing up late, and if even one doesn’t have proper ID, that throws the whole game off.

# of Pages
A fast signer can get through a long package quickly. But, a “reader” will take forever. The type of sign(er) is more important than the type of sign(ing) as a professional signer can whip through a 300 page loan faster than a nit-picky suspicious “reader” can get through an 80 page signing, especially if they have to call their lender.

Prepared Lender
If the Lender on the loan prepares his borrowers well, the signing will go fast. But, what if you get a Lender who waits until the last minute to fill in the blanks. You will be at the signing over an hour with a Lender like that. I had a best client who never prepared his borrowers well. The money was not bad, but they really took advantage of my time. Most Lenders have a few screws loose, and the Notary is the one who pays for that.

# of Notarizations
I was a fast Notary and could do 11 notarizations for two people = 22 notarizations in less than half an hour. But, it is a lot faster to do one notarization especially if the signer whips out their ID quickly (use a stopwatch for measuring that.)

Ending Joke
Here is a Maine joke for you guys.

TEXAS NOTARY: I once had a signing so big it took me three hours to complete

MAINE NOTARY: A-yup, I once had a printer like that


March 6, 2016

Should you send the Fedex right away?

Filed under: Best Practices — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:41 am

I remember out old blog which was a favorite entitled, “Don’t put the Fedex in the drop box.” This article should be entitled, “Put the Fedex in the Staffed Station’s drop box as fast as possible.”

My question that I asked many Notaries was…

A Notary did a signing for Joe. Joe signed all of the documents except for the Flood Disclosure which he wouldn’t sign simply because his lender Chad never got back to him about the document. Joe and the Notary waited for 20 minutes with no return call. So, the Notary loaded up the documents and put it in the Fedex. The Notary is driving away and it is about noon-ish. Should the Notary take the Fedex straight to the Fedex station or wait?

Answer #1.
Most Notaries claim that it is good to hold on to the package just in case the Lender calls. But, if the Lender calls, do you really have time to go all the way back to the borrower’s house to sign a single document and stay on the phone for half an hour? Don’t you have anything else to do with your life? The Lender never gave you instructions to wait, so why wait? Additionally, there are many reasons why waiting could sabotage the loan. 123notary has heard of various situations where a Notary forgot to come to an appointment or drop a package. These include:

(a) The Notary got another rush job at the last minute and forgot all about dropping the package off.
(b) The Notary’s six year old daughter hit her head and he had to come rushing home and forgot all about the Fedex.
(c) The Notary got hit by a car and was so shaken up he forgot to send the package.

In real life, unexpected situations come up more than you would expect. If that Fedex doesn’t get sent out, the borrower could lose his loan and his lock. There is no reason to keep the package. The document that was not signed was NOT A NOTARIZED document. The borrower can handle it on his own.

Answer #2
Drop it off as fast as possible.
The Lender might not like that you didn’t wait. But, why should you let him waste your time unless he is paying for your time. It is the Lender’s fault for not explaining the document to the signer before the signing. It is the signer’s fault for not signing the document. Why are you holding yourself hostage for the convenience of people who sabotaged their own signing? They are not paying you for your delay. Go on and get to your next item of business and let these nitwits deal with their own problem. The borrower’s copies will have a copy of the disclosure or the Lender can email another copy.


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December 16, 2015

I’m just the Notary

How often do you say, “I’m just the Notary?” It’s like saying, “I don’t know, I just work here.” What does a Notary really need to know? For one, you need to know your state’s Notary laws, and they might not do a good job of teaching them. California, New York, Louisiana, and Florida invest more effort in teaching their Notaries than the other states do combined. But, many Notaries are unaware of many Notary laws that affect them.

Can I send a loose notary certificate in the mail? Many Notaries think it is okay to send loose certificates in the mail. You could lose your commission for that in some states.
Many Notaries think it is okay to Notarize someone with a name variation that is shorter on the ID than it is on the document.
Many Notaries think that the Title company is the all-ending authority when it comes to determining what is legal to notarize at a loan signing.

The Notary is the final authority in deciding what can be notarized and what can’t be. If you didn’t study your notary handbook, you might not know the correct answers, but you are still the one in charge. So, act like you are in charge. You are NOT just the Notary. You are a state official whose function is to prevent fraud. Try to see your career in that light and you will do it completely differently — and hopefully much better.

Perhaps you are not supposed to discuss the terms of the loan with the borrower. But, do you know where the borrower can find out when their last payment is? Do you know where info about the APR, the Rate, and the Prepayment Penalty are? Do you know which document discusses late fees or collateral? There is a lot to know as a loan signer, and most people just wing it and say, “I might not know the answer when you ask me, but I’m fine when I’m at an actual signing.” That is not acceptable. If you are a professional loan signing agent, you need to know your documents as well as your Notary law as well as knowing how to follow directions.

So, be more than just the Notary, and be a pro at doing all that you do! This begins with doing a lot of reading of handbooks and Notary courses as well as actual loan documents.


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Loan Signing FAQ’s that borrowers ask


July 6, 2015

Get certified by whomever you advertise with in the long run.

Filed under: Best Practices — Tags: — admin @ 12:53 pm

If you advertise with the NNA, get certified by them. If you advertise on Notary Rotary, get certified by them if they offer such a program. And if you advertise with 123notary, get certified by us. Don’t fight it. Just do it, because your listing won’t look professional without it and our browsers will notice the difference even if you don’t think it matters.

But, I would make sure you like 123notary before getting our test. If you are advertising with us, and haven’t decided if you want to make our relationship a long term deal, you might consider waiting. If you are sure you want to list with us for at least two years, then definitely invest in our certification as your listing will not produce the same number of jobs without it.

Give us a fair chance too. Many notaries who have a stripped down listing claim that they get little business from us. The fact is that there is business going around on our site, but that goes to notaries who have the most professional looking listings in their area. The ones with reviews, an informative notes section, high placement, 123notary Elite Certification, and perhaps a company name will get the first call most of the time. If your listing says, “I am a mobile notary, please call me,” that is not enough information to attract a serious buyer. If you try to write a great notes section and get a few reviews, then serious customers might call you for work. Don’t judge us until you have prepared your listing to be up to fighting strength, otherwise we’re not playing on a level playing field.

Many notaries mention that they are NNA certified in their notes section on our site. We learned that this statistically doesn’t result in any more or any less business. It is just a redundant note about yourself. Most notaries on 123notary are NNA certified, so claiming their certification differentiates you from the crowd as much as claiming that you have two arms and a nose. So, does everyone else. You need content on your profile that is different and better than the rest if you expect to get any serious business, and this takes work. Taking an hour or more to brainstorm about what to put in your notes section can really make a difference. Reading what others put in their notes sections will give you ideas.

Passing our certification test puts you in the top 25%
3% of our notaries are Elite Certified, and 25% are regular certified. Ask yourself if you want to be in the bottom 75%, or the top 25%? Put yourself in the position of a Title company looking at notaries on our site. Who would you call first? Would you call someone with the Elite emblem on your listing or someone who has no certifications? Would you call someone with a well organized comprehensive notes section or one with a one-liner? You might know how great you are, but others do not. So think from their perspective and prove how good you are. Get tested by impartial 3rd parties.


May 5, 2015

Ways notaries can lose clients

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 12:38 pm

We have thousands of notaries on our site. For the most part, very few ever get in trouble for anything. But, sometimes they do, and here are some ways they do it.

(1) Posting slander on social media
In this age of the internet, power has been given to the people. The little guy can stand up and state his mind and others can hear what he had to say. The downside of this is the many people have engaged in a lot of slanderous activities on the internet which has compromised the integrity of the information out there. There are many false accusations and people who vent their frustrations on legitimate businesses. Well many businesses including signing companies are fed up. If you post slander about them, and they figure out who you are (yes, they are watching) you could get blacklisted. Additionally, they might have friends at other signing companies who could blacklist you too. Keep in mind that notary forums are very valuable places for notaries to share experiences with companies. Most signing companies out there are less than exemplary as you well know. So, without sharing information, other notaries have no way to protect themselves. But, by overdoing it, you are endangering yourself, especially if you use a trackable account! (gulp)

(2) Giving opinions about the loan
How stupid is that? You are not there to give opinions, you are there to get the loan signed. Sometimes a borrower is being charged too much interest and you know they are being ripped off. It is not your place to say anything. They had their chance to ask their Attorney and do their research. This is what the borrower chose. Let them deal with it. Notaries often have a soft spot for the elderly and I don’t blame them. The elderly and very poor people tend to get ripped off the most in today’s society. One notary told an elderly person that the lender was ripping her off. I heard about this first hand from the notary, and the notary was right. It is questionable if what the notary did was ethical. Yes, she was protecting an elderly person, but she was sabotaging someone else simultaneously as well as her own career. I would make up your mind before you go out on a single closing what to do if you suspect someone is getting ripped off. Do you say anything or keep your mouth shut? On the other hand, I do recommend pointing to terms in the contract if you know where they are and making sure the borrower reads and understands them — especially if they are the vulnerable type. That way you guide them to protecting themselves rather than saying the wrong thing and getting your head chopped off!

(3) Not following directions
If the loan is to be signed Sally S Smith, and Sally’s ID says Sally Smith, you might need a Name Affidavit, but if you don’t sign the way the Lender asks, the loan has to be redrawn and resigned! If the Lender says no cross-outs and you do a single cross-out, the loan has to be signed all over again on a different day. You are causing a serious problem and the borrower could lose their lock. You could be causing thousands in damages by failing to follow easy directions. If there is a problem and you are asked to call Chad, but you call Title instead, you are likely to get fired. Often there are written instructions for how to sign the loan. Follow these as well as oral instructions. Keep out of trouble. There is enough trouble in loan signing without you causing even more trouble!

(4) Dressing unacceptably
I was just reading a forum discussion yesterday. A lady was asking if it was all right to wear shorts to a signing. Of course the answer is that it is not all right! Try to wear business attire. Jeans are not recommended, and shorts are out. Try to have your hair nicely cut and combed, wear formal shoes, and look like you work for a law office or bank even though you don’t. In a sense you do work for a Title company even if it is as a subcontractor. So, look the part. It doesn’t make a difference to the quality of your work how you look, but people often get upset when you don’t look the part.

(5) Failing to get docs back on time
It is not rocket science how to get documents back on time. If you take them home when you are done, you might forget or get busy the next day. If you wait to apply your seal until after you leave the signing, you might forget. Get the documents in the box in a manned (or womanned) Fedex station the night of the signing. Drop boxes are risky. Put in that extra effort to make sure that all works out correctly by avoiding situations where you might forget to drop the documents, or a particular box might not be serviced. I went for several years with no incident, and then there was one time when my Fedex was in the box for a week in Koreatown. They had a new driver who didn’t realize that box was on his route. Ooops. I got blamed for his mistake, so be vigilant and take precautions! Make sure the package gets to them — or else.


January 6, 2014

Can a Notary notarize a Will or Living Will?

To make it quick and simple — Yes, a Notary can notarize signatures on a Will, although it is generally discouraged unless given written instructions by an Attorney. Wills are normally witnessed, but not notarized. But then, why be normal?

Can a notary witness a Will?
YES, a Notary can witness the signing of any document. However, it is discouraged for a notary to be involved in any transaction as a witness or Notary where they might have beneficial interest or financial interest! If the notary benefits in any way from a Will being signed or is closely related to a beneficiary, they could be said to have beneficial interest. Anybody eighteen years of age or older who can sign their own name and watch someone else sign can be a witness to a will. It is that simple!

Can a notary draft a Will?
Document drafting might be considered part of the practice of law in your state. You can ask your state bar association if a Notary can draft a document, or if a notary can draft a legal document. The answer is most likely no. Unless you are trained and authorized, I would stay away from document drafting of legal documents since it is so sensitive!

Then who can draft a Will?
Ask an Attorney to help you draft a Will. Ask the Attorney if the Will should be notarized or only witnessed. The witnesses of the Will can also be notarized by the way!

What about a Living Will?
Living Wills are typically very long documents drafted by Attorneys who specialize in Health Care legal documents. Health Care Power Of Attorney documents are close relatives of Living Wills. Living Wills are typically notarized and often need a notarization in the middle of the document as well as at the end of the potentially dozens of pages.

Can a notary notarize a Living Will?

How about a Dying Will or a Won’t? Or a Living Will that doesn’t have a pulse! I know a Notary who is dying to notarize a Won’t with or without instructions from an Attorney!

(1) Yes, Notary can notarize signatures on a Will, although it is generally discouraged w/o written instructions from an Attorney.
(2) Document drafting may or may not be considered practicing law in your state. Ask the Bar Association.
(3) The difference between a regular Will and a Living Will is that the latter has a pulse.

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October 19, 2013

Cross Out and Initial

Cross out and initial

What if you are in the notary business and you just made a mistake, or someone else made a mistake in a document. Simple, just cross out and initial, right? Maybe not. Putting aside the question of the legitimacy of a document with cross-outs, the future document custodian might not like cross-outs.

Picture yourself as a lender (I know it’s hard). You are having a loan signed, so you can sell the loan to yet another bank. That other bank doesn’t like it when people cross out and initial. It looks sloppy and unprofessional to them. So, as a notary, what do you do when there is a problem with a document? You ask your contact person what they want to do.

They can either redraw the document at great expense, coerce the borrower to sign the document “as is”, or have you cross out and initial. Let your contact person make the decision so they get in trouble — not you!

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October 8, 2013

Interview with Title Source

Me: “Many of our notaries like working with you. Can you tell me why? What do you do that is so good?”

Zee: “Notaries are intrigued by our system, our technology. We try to put it in order in our edocs. About 95% of our closings will require notaries to print out. We get things done in a timely manner. Our website is easy to logon to and provide a service. We also try to give notaries work within their area– within 20 miles.

I do instruct notaries that they can contact our scheduling team and get them to the lender as needed if there is an issue at a closing. Someone is always available. I do ask notaries not to discuss any specifics of docs with our scheduling team.

We give notaries a score 1.5 to 3.5. 1.0 is the best. If they earn a good score they get more work or a raise. Their score includes completion time–including dropping the package at FedEx; quality of work: if there is a signature missing, that would be a defect. Confirmation-turn time is also important. The fee they charge is also part of that. A good fee for us is $65, and another $20 for edocs. A refi might be $90. I pay my national companies $125 for a signing; I would also pay that to a good notary. I have to have a loan assigned to a notary within 2 hours. I let the notary tell me what fee they want. I can’t guarantee them they will get many orders at, say, $125. But if I build you a profile today, I will put you at the top of the page. Our site will help you build your profile. There is no fee to do that. We call those who say $85 before those who say $125.

When we look on 123notary we may look by zip code or by city, but lately we are limiting the notaries to those who are NNA or Lexis-Nexis background screened. Those background screenings are the best.

We give instruction sheets. If there is something specific the client wants, we put it on the instructions.

We usually do not hire notaries who have fewer than 2 years of experience (fewer than 500 loans). We absolutely would hire a new notary with experience in a financial area. Any experience with the mortgage industry. Sometime real estate people have good experience. We close loans all over the country. We have a quiz or test that we give first if a notary wants to sign up– about 10 questions. You have to listen to something before– various questions about situations: they look at a video (2-3 minutes) and then answer questions. They have to get all the questions right. ”


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June 20, 2013

Optional info on Acknowledgment Certificate

So, you are a notary? But:

(1) Do you fill out your certificates thoroughly?

(2) Do you know what the optional or additional information section of the acknowledgment certificate is?

(3) Do you know what a certificate is?

(4) Do you know what the Acknowledgment wording is in your state?

(5) Do you cross out the his/her/their or (s) in capacity(s)?

Most notaries don’t do their cross outs which is illegal to skip. And the Secretary of State is too busy to catch up with all of the notaries in their respective state.

What is in the optional information section, and should it be optional?
(1) Number of pages in the document

(2) Document name

(3) Document date

(4) Capacity of signer

(5) Other signers who signed the document but, were not notarized on that notarization

(6) Right thumbprint of signer

Why is this important?
There are a lot of frauds out there. California law requires notaries to STAPLE (legally, the word used is attach) the notary certificate to the corresponding document. But, do you know how many people detach the staple? Title companies complained about my staples because they detached everything I stapled. They are inviting fraud if you ask me. It looks tampered with if they detach documents. Very sketchy. If I were the Secretary of State, I would investigate anyone who unstapled a notary document and might have them arrested for suspected fraud!

If a fraud wants to take an Acknowledgment OFF one document and attach it to another, it will be hard work if the optional information is all filled out. The number of pages would have to measure up. The document date would need to correspond. The Document name would have to be consistant as well. Most frauds would have not go that far, and might make a mistake matching all of the statistics since they were not trained well (probably). But, imagine if you submit an Acknowledgment certificate that has none of this information? You could conceivably reattach it to ANY document that the signer signed — an invitation for others to commit fraud.

Therefor, I believe that it should be required by law in all states to fill in the optional information section — hence renaming it the required additional information section. Be square and deter fraud today!


April 28, 2013

Best Practices: When it is legal to notarize a document twice?

Q. When is it legal to notarize twice?

A. Any time you get two journal entries for the document in question and attach two separate certificates.

How is this?

Many notaries fall into unfortunate circumstances. We live in a day and age when old fashioned common sense is not a part of life any more — at least not in the Title industry. A notary will be given an Acknowledgment form with wording that just isn’t acceptable. Perhaps the venue is for a different county or state. Perhaps there are two names on the Acknowledgment when there is only one signer — and a cross out will just look funny. Maybe something else will be wrong. Use your imagination here — you are notaries!

So, should you cross out Jim’s name on the Acknowledgment form since only Jane is there and Jim is on a business trip? Or should you attach an additional acknowledgment form and leave the original blank? The issue here is much more than what the law says. The law doesn’t address cross outs to my knowledge although it definately seems that it is not a “best practice” since it looks dubious and possibly fraudulent.

Do you really want your notarized documents to look tampered with? That is what notarizing a document with a cross-out looks like. Sure you do it all the time, but what if fraud really is involved and you get called into court just because you think it is fine and dandy to simply, “cross out and initial — I do it all the time”. Well, stop doing it all the time on notarized documents. It is a “worst practice”, not a best practice. Best practices include starting fresh with a clean acknowledgment and filling out properly with not only the state required wording, but also a document name, document date, document description, number of pages, etc. If you are smart, you will emboss every page on every document that you notarize whether the clients like it or not — for your protection. It makes page swapping after the fact very noticeable and detectable.

So, I recommend the fresh acknowledgment approach since it is clean and a best practice. But, on the other hand, what about notarizing the document twice and giving the lender a choice of the messy cross-out version, or the clean attached version. Some lenders HATE attachments (even though it is legal and kosher). Many lenders do not mind cross-outs even though it is abomidable to anyone with standards. So, if you give them a choice, at least they will have less cause to be unhappy. They will know that you went above and beyond for them.

However, you will be committing fraud if you send a loose acknownowledgment in the mail to the lender who doesn’t like your first attempt. Sure you already notarized it, but now there are two certificates floating around and not attached. The “best practice” here is to tell the lender you need the original back, you shred the certiifcate, add another certificate, and then send it back. Lenders don’t typically like best practices because it takes longer. Fraud is easier! But, don’t even think about it.

I will end this entry with a quote from a Yiddish folk story

Crime doesn’t pay, but oy, such good hours!

I will end this entry a second time, but this time with a line from a Mexican folk song about notarizations

Dos Acknowledmentos Un Documento?
Ay que paso en esta mundo?
Que voy aser con esta notario?
Llama el telefono a el Loan Officer por favor!

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