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October 13, 2019

Should the cost of your commission, phone, equipment factor into your prices?

Filed under: Notary Fees & Pricing — admin @ 11:27 pm

A handful of Notaries responded to an old article about doing some job with fax backs and eDocuments for $75. The question was, is it worth it? I also mentioned that in India people would cut off their left arm to have such an offer, but I got only sarcastic responses stating that they didn’t live in India.

Many Notaries wrote back that when calculating your fee, you should consider:

1. Cost of commission, licenses & memberships
2. Study time
3. Cell phone cost per month
4. Equipment costs
5. Advertising costs & the time spent generating business
6. Auto expenses
7. Printing expenses

The fact is that expenses from 1-5 are fixed expenses and have nothing to do with a particular job. Expenses 1-5, if too much, should influence your decision to stay in the business or leave altogether as those expenses do not go up or down based on whether or not you take a particular job.

The real cost is whether you could do something else with your time such as a more profitable job, billing clients, sleep, spending time on errands or with family. If $75 is your best offer, then take it whether it is “fair” or not. There is no fair in business — only relativity.

Additionally, if you lived in India, you would be working all day long for a few dollars and would not get to eat in restaurants hardly ever unless you had a swanky job. You would have bare bones conditions and people nagging you all day long. Don’t take for granted that you live in an affluent society because that can be taken away from you in the long run. Yes, sarcasm is good, but try to see what is going on in other countries and realize how good you have it compared to the 3rd world folks.

LINKS
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October 9, 2019

Maximum Notary fee $5, but the signing pays $200?

Filed under: Notary Fees & Pricing — admin @ 11:23 pm

Each state has a maximum notary fee per notary act or procedure. Some charge by the signature, Florida charges by the stamp if I’m not incorrect (better look that one up.)

But, if you are allowed $5 per signature, the signing has four signatures, but pays $200, then what? Are you breaking the law? Or are you being paid for mobile fees and supervising fees? The truth is that you are being paid for a bunch of responsibilities within your service:

Printing documents
Confirming an appointment
Supervising the signature and initialing of documents
Answering simple questions (perhaps)
Not answering questions you are not supposed to (unless you are a know-it-all who is looking for trouble)
Notarizing
Waiting while people read or have long conversations by phone with the Lender.
Getting the documents safely back where they belong
Availability for after service.

All of those combined definitely merit at least $125, don’t you think?

So, how do you document this in your journal? $5 per notary act. Two people x two notary acts per person is four lines in your journal each stating $5 for the notary fee. And then in the additional info section for the first notary act of the set, put down you got $180 travel / supervising fee for a loan signing. Then it is all documented just in case the IRS has any questions. Notary fees are not subject to self-employment tax but travel and supervising fees are. Look it up in the SE instructions.

But, what if you live in California and the Notary fee is $15, you have ten signatures, but the job only pays $100. You could charge $150 plus travel for that signing, but your Lender or signing company isn’t paying that. Just put whatever you want for the notary fee between zero and $15 per notarized signature in your journal. And do a reasonable estimate for what the travel and supervising fees should be — just estimate and try to be proportionate.

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September 26, 2019

What do you charge for Notary work & signings?

Filed under: Notary Fees & Pricing — admin @ 10:34 pm

Just out of curiousity, the market has changed since we wrote our various pricing oriented blog tutorials. Those were written from 2010 to 2016. We want to know, what do you guys charge now?

Signings
eDocuments
Extra Miles

Regular signings for general notary work.
Other

Thanks!

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September 6, 2019

How far do you push for payment terms?

Filed under: Notary Fees & Pricing — admin @ 10:59 pm

As a newer Notary, you tend to get pushed around by more experienced companies. They set the terms, they give you the run around, make you fax back far too many pages, cancel jobs at the last minute, and then don’t pay you. Seems like you get a raw deal. Unfortunately in this business, as a new Notary, you have to pay your dues and work for the less than wonderful companies. The question is, how soon can you start being pushy for payment terms?

Ken in NYC is very aggressive for payment terms. He makes people pay up front. He is not a bank and he does not lend money to the signing companies. He charges more than others because he is the most solid Notary in town and people know that. But, he has thousands of loans under his belt. How much experience do you need before you start setting terms? There is no set answer.

You can test your terms out and see how much work you lose. If you demand that the signing company sign a contract with you for your terms, you can see if they sign it. The terms might go over last minute cancellations, printing fees for cancelled jobs, or incomplete signings, second trips, etc. You could even fine them for paying late.

How much experience do you need to bill people up front? Or what if you reduced your fee a bit to charge up front? Would you rather get all your money up front but get less? If you wait to get paid, you will have bookkeeping expenses, lost time doing collections and not get paid part of the time, so giving 10% off seems like a reasonable arrangement for me.

Or perhaps signing companies who don’t have a reputation with you yet would be asked to pay up front. Different terms for different companies. There is another approach. If you trust a company more, few terms or no terms, but if they have a bad rep or you don’t know them then more stringent terms.

In short, there are many ways to manage your terms. It is up to you how you do it. My suggestion is not to have any terms until you get 1000 loans under your belt as well as certifications from three companies. At least that shows you are not fooling around. If you don’t know your job up to my standards in my opinion you don’t merit terms! (ooh, that was mean)

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August 31, 2019

Travel fees if nothing gets signed

Filed under: Notary Fees & Pricing — admin @ 10:55 pm

It is common for Notaries to go to a job where the signer refuses to sign, or the job gets cancelled. What can the Notary charge for a travel fee since he/she/they didn’t “do” anything? The answer is that the most important aspect of this issue is not what you charge but what you explain over the phone. The client/signer needs to be painfully (the more pain the better) aware that the notary’s schedule is not for free and that they have to pay x amount of dollars even if nothing gets done as well as waiting time.

It is a generally prudent policy to get travel fees in cash at the door upon arrival before seeing the signer. This is because you need to be able to be impartial and have no beneficial or financial interest in a document being signed. If your $50 travel fees is contingent on Sammy signing the Affidavit, you will be tempted to notarize it even if the ID doesn’t match completely. As a Notary, you need to not be tempted to wiggle on state notary rules, and having your travel fee in your pocket puts the power and integrity back in your pocket. It’s hard to be integrous when money is at stake.

If someone gives you $40 travel fee which includes the first 20 minutes waiting time, and then keeps you waiting more than that, since you have the $40 in your pocket, you can demand cash for the next twenty minutes or threaten to walk. People will string you along in this line of work so it is important to keep the upper hand, or as Mrs. Meao likes to say — the upper paw!

The bottom line is that communication of signing fees over the phone before the signing is the most important solution to the travel fee issue. Fail to communicate — you might not get paid at all. So, communicate not only what the client will have to pay, but terms and conditions for what gets paid when and how much. Also, be careful with checks. Signers who cancel jobs sometimes bounce checks or stop payment. It happened to me after a very time consuming jail job. I bet Mrs. Meao would have something to say about that!

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November 1, 2016

Can you charge a 2nd trip fee?

Filed under: Notary Fees & Pricing — Tags: , — admin @ 11:29 pm

Technically, Notaries can charge a 2nd trip fee. You get paid for what you do, right? But, signing companies are not always willing to pay for this. If the Notary made an error, the Notary should go back for free. But, if the Title company or Lender made a mistake, they will expect you to go back out and then often try not to pay you.

You need to keep accurate records of who paid for what job and with what check number. Signing companies send lots of checks out, but the record keeping system is based on the check number. They’ll try to sleeze out of paying you by referencing a check number.

Paypal is a nice way to pay for things because the records are queriable and you can mention what job or jobs you are paying for. That way, after the fact, you can quickly verify that you in fact were paid.

Another question is — should you stand your ground to collect that 2nd trip fee? If you have a good client, do they deserve a favor from time to time? Or are your fees by the book with no special gestures? If they need a second trip from time to time and they are a good company, then I might do it. But, if they are always late paying you and taking liberties, then perhaps not. You have to calculate this on your own. But, a good client is worth gold, so try to be nice to them in their hour of need.

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June 9, 2016

A comprehensive guide to Notary Pricing

It’s been a long time since I have written an article on pricing, so I feel it is high time! Most Notaries want to have a fixed fee and make tons of money. This is not always possible. The Notary market is a market with lots of little ups and down that a smart Notary needs to constantly adjust to. It’s smarter to have systems and formulas worked out ahead of time so you know how to react to these fluctuations.

There are fast days and slow days, monthly highs and lows, as well as changes in the market that happen over the years. There are also changes in who is competing with you in your area at a particular time. The key is to be flexible and learn how to charge accordingly. Here is how I would set my prices.

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1. Time Involved
A smart Notary should charge based on how much time is spent. Notary jobs during rush hour involve more time. Jobs that involve printing more than the average amount of pages should be billed accordingly. Smart Notaries ask who the Lender or Bank is. This is because the name of the Lender can determine with some accuracy the size of the package. Signing companies lie about package sizes which is why smart Notaries ask. Additionally, there are many loan types and some require more time. Refinances are faster, while Construction Loans are longer but have more professional and businesslike signers. Reverse Mortgages, VA, and FHA take more time. Piggy Backs are double signings and have double the pages and double the Notary work. Time for doing a signing is based on these components:

Negotiating Time — Some companies are easy and pleasant to deal with. If it is fast getting assignments faxed or emailed to you and easy to confirm with the borrower, take notes of that time. It can differ from company to company.

Printing Time — Notaries should charge by the page for e-documents. Printing takes time, and often involves waiting for documents to be ready which can be hours if you work with irresponsible companies.

Driving Time –Factor in how much time it takes to get from point A to B. Keep notes so you’ll know how to charge for jobs to particular cities in the future.

Signing time — Some Lenders have loans that get signed quickly. Some Lenders answer the phone and get situations handled quickly while others don’t.

Loan Type Influences Time Spent — VA & FHA signings are just plain longer. Reverse Mortgages are for the elderly who are less businesslike and might need a lot more time to sign. Power of Attorney signings are the most likely not to fund, so take that into consideration. Piggy Back loans are double the signatures and double the notarizations. But, once everyone has sat down and you have your journal out, it goes quickly.

Fax Back Time — Fax Backs are a pain in the rear, but they serve a purpose. Signing companies can hire newbies and get away with it, because the signing company can check your work before it gets sent back to Title. They no longer need experienced Notaries. However, fax backs take time, so if your time is worth something, charge for each page faxed back.

Cancellation Rate Time Waste — Factor cancellation rate and billing time into the price.

Billing Time — Some companies pay on the first request while others require hounding.

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2. Expenses Itemized

Printing Documents — is not only time consuming but costs money. You are using up paper, toner, cartridges, ink, and using up your time to restock what you used up. Charge accordingly.

Car Expenses — Driving a car is not free. Tires wear down, brakes wear out, plus you need to change the oil, filters, shocks, transmission, and more. So, in addition to time, try to work a mileage fee into your pricing in addition to charging for time.

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3. Track Record & Risk of Not Getting Paid

Late Documents — If the signing company or title company was late getting your edocuments in the past, make a note of that. Keep detailed records of each company. Record how fast they paid you on each job. Recalculate their average days to payment every month just to keep records updated. Also, keep records for how late they are sending edocuments or how incompetent they are about keeping their borrowers informed. If you are dealing with a flake, charge more.

Unknown PartiesIf you accept a job from an unknown lender, or one with a bad reputation online, you might charge more, or make them pay up front. You should always charge extra when there is any type of risk involved. . These signings assume risk. Some of the risk is spending an unpredictable amount of time or not getting paid at all.

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4. Payment Terms
If a Lender will only pay you if the loan funds, you need to charge more. Some Lenders will not pay your printing fee if the job gets cancelled, so make sure you know what the terms of the agreement are. Some will pay part of a travel fee if the job gets cancelled mid-way. However, the signing company booked your time, and you can’t give your leftover time to some other company at the last minute just because they needed to cancel. You have to commit your time to them, but do you make companies commit to paying you?

I personally feel that Notaries should set their own terms. You are not a bank, and it is not your job to gamble on whether or not a loan funds. You should be paid before, or within 72 hours of a signing in my opinion. But, you can make your own terms. Beginners have to accept the terms dictated to them, but old pros can make their own terms and get away with it. However, if you do accept terms that limit your ability to guarantee payment, charge a lot more.

Recommended Reading:
Issues to consider when creating a signing agent services contract
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2593

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5. Travel Fees for Non Loan Signing Work
Most Notaries charge $25 to $50 travel fee, and more if it is for jails or hospitals. You also charge by the signature on top of the travel fee. Charge based on how valuable your time is worth. If you are desperate for work, charge less. If your time is limited, charge more. If you have lots of other things to do, you have less supply of time so you can charge more — this is a strategy to consider — so stay busy my friends.

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6. Jails & Hospital Notary Jobs
Charge more for jails and hospitals because these are the jobs where there is a lot more that can go wrong. You also will not be dealing with the cream of the crop. You can get stood up at a jail. Inmates do not have ID and your credible witness or ID carrier might not show up. ID’s might be expired. Hospital patients are often drugged making it impossible to notarize them. Half of them can’t even hold a pen, so how can they possibly sign? Consider this when deciding upon your jail & hospital travel fees which should be $60 to $150 depending on how greedy you are! Some Notaries are afraid to go to jails, but it is safe, and that is where you can make money fast. Just make sure you have them read their ID to you over the phone including expiration date or you will be very sorry. Also, get your travel fee in cash at the door BEFORE you see the signer. They might not be available or might not want to sign! Be prepared!

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7. General Pricing Models
Keep in mind that a few years ago, Notaries could get paid a lot more. With Snapdocs and lower demand, companies can pay a lot less and get away with it.

Situations where you charge more or less
(1) Charge less during the first 17 days of the month. It is slower, and you have more time.
(2) Charge more during the end of the month. Additionally, you can charge more if you schedule a job several days in advance because you might miss out on a better offer. Additionally, jobs scheduled in advance in my day had a 25% cancellation rate which will wreak havoc on your schedule.
(3) Charge less if you are having a slow day and someone needs a last minute signing. If you are doing nothing, why not sell that time.
(4) eSignings have less physical pages, but often take longer because the signer and their spouse need to take turns looking at the computer screen not to mention the chance of delays due to technical issues.
(5) Charge extra if there are three or more signers on a loan.
(6) Charge more if the company cancels a lot
(7) Charge less if a company has a good track record and is easy and fast to deal with — or pleasant!
(8.) Charge more if there are lots of signatures to notarize.

Pricing Recommendations For Beginners. 0-500 signings

Basic Signing $60-$80
E-Documents: $10-$25 extra per double set or 7 cents per page
Pickups: $25 extra
Dropoffs: $20 extra — there is less waiting time during dropoffs
Reverse Mortgages: $100
Piggy Backs: $100
Regular Notary Work Travel Fee: $30 if within 30 minutes
Jail & Hospitals: $50

Pricing Recommendations for Intermediates. 500-3000 signings
Basic Signing: $80-$120; E-Documents: $20-$40 or 10 cents per page; Pickups: $30 extra; Dropoffs: $25 extra; Reverse Mortgages: $125; Piggy Backs: $125; Regular Travel Fee: $40 if within 30 miles; Jails & Hospitals: $70

When to charge in advance
You are not a bank and you should not offer endless credit to any signing company. Some of them will string you along and not pay you or play games with payments making it unclear which job they are paying for. Decide in advance how much credit to give each company and keep records. If you have a six month track record with a company and they pay you on time, you might offer them credit for six jobs. For all others, do one or two jobs, but don’t do any more until you get paid. It is not a bad idea to charge up front with Paypal, but few companies will pay a beginner up front. Ken, our seasoned Notary always gets paid up front, but he is a pro.

(1) New Companies — do one job, but don’t do a second until you get paid for the first unless they have a stellar record for payment on the forums.
(2) Some Track Record — do two jobs, but don’t do a third until you get paid for the first.
(3) Good Track Record — Watch out: good companies can turn bad if they experience financial difficulties or labor shortages. Do not offer credit for more than six jobs no matter what. A good track record should be over at least six months.

Don’t complain
There are many Notaries who have gone out of business because there is too much competition for too few jobs. If you are getting paid, getting experience, and staying afloat, you are ahead of the game. Many Notaries have this idea that they should get $125 per signing ever time. Unfortunately, it no longer works like this. So, take what you can get and just do your best! If you get more experience, you will be worth more in the long run. Additionally, the market could have an upswing at any time, so keep a positive thought.

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August 10, 2015

Many notaries who previously wouldn’t leave the house for <$125 are working for peanuts.

Even some of our most seasoned notaries have gotten so desperate that they are forced to work for less than they feel they deserve in terms of Notary wages or fees. We’ve had notaries who had strict policies of working for no less than $125 or $100 forced to do Notary jobs for $60. Some take this emotionally, while others realize that we all have to eat, and that a notary’s gotta do what a notary’s gotta do. On a brighter note, the price of gas went down by more than a dollar, so your expenses are a lot less now!

Notaries make the mistake of trying to figure out what they “should” get paid or what is “fair.” In the world of business there is no should and there is no fair. In foreign countries people doing the exact same job you are doing might only make $5 or $10 per day, so is that fair? As people living in America, you have it better than any other country, even Canada. Of course a well off person in a foreign country is likely to be better off than you, but someone doing the same Notary job you are is probably a lot worse off. The point I am trying to make is that fairness can only be viewed in perspective. But, even if you can figure out a very equilateral viewpoint of fairness, it won’t do you any good. The universe gives you what it gives you. It decides how much it is going to give you and you just have to work with what is given to you. Forget about fair, and just do the best you can.

Do you see people working at gas stations shaking their head saying, “It just doesn’t seem fair that we have to sell gas at $2.40 per gallon now. We’re doing the same work we were doing when it was $4.00 but getting paid close to half for the same work.” No, they just go about their business and do the best they can which is what you should be doing. Try and do as well as you can as a notary regardless of what the external conditions are. If things get too slow, you can try to supplement your income with other tasks or jobs. In the worst case scenario, if it is really slow, it might be time to get a full time job and moonlight at night doing notary work.

In my opinion, the market for notaries and Notary jobs will bounce back eventually. I’m not sure when. It really depends on a variety of standards. If it has been many years since people could refinance, they will get more and more anxious to do so, even if the percentage of equity they can borrow upon is low. If housing values go up, or interest rates go up, and then down, there could be more refinances. Or, if banks simply lower their standards for who can borrow money, we might see more loans going through. We live in a changing world, and markets go up and down.

Look on the bright side, maybe North Korea will get rich and start buying up property in your area. That will drive the price up, and then there will be more refinances. On the other hand you might have more competition from “Un Notary service” if Kim John Un becomes a notary! Picture him being your neighbor!

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April 13, 2013

FAQ: How much do notaries charge?

FAQ: How much do notaries charge?

How much does a notary cost?
Notary fees vary from state to state. Please visit our Find a Notary page and look up by state, and we have pricing information for most states.

How much can a notary charge?
A notary can charge as much as his/her state of commission allows them to charge.

How much do notaries cost?
You can not buy a notary, so a notary doesn’t have a cost. But, they charge fees for doing notary acts (notarizing). Each notary act has a separate fee, and fees vary from state to state. Visit our Find a Notary page and click on the name of your state for more information.

How much is a notary?
Once again, you can not purchase a notary. But, you can purchase the services of a Public Notary. Please visit our Find a Notary Public page for more state specific information about notary fees in your state.

How much can you charge for a notary?
A notary can charge as much as his/her state of commission allows them to charge for notarizing signatures.

Here are some typical notary questions written in poor grammar:

“How much does notary cost?”
“How much do notary cost?”

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February 15, 2013

How much can a notary charge in 2013?

How much can a notary charge for a …

Q. Witness Signatures: How much can a notary charge for a signature of a witness?
A. The notary can charge whatever their state’s maximum notary fee is if they are notarizing a signature of a witness. Please visit our find a notary page, and then look up your state.
http://www.123notary.com/find-a-notary-public.asp

Q. How much can a notary charge for travel in the form of a mobile fee?
A. Most states allow a notary to charge whatever the client is willing to pay for travel, but a handful of states have travel fee restrictions such as New Hampshire, Arizona, and a few other states. Please visit
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4231

Q. How much can a notary charge for a copy of a journal entry?
A. In California, 30 cents per journal entry. But, please visit the state notary division website of the state in question for state specific answers. Journal entry copies is a type of notary act that does not have a fixed fee in most states by the way! Californians are lucky that they get to capitalize on this rare opportunity and make 30 whole cents!

Q. How much can I charge to notarize for an inmate? How much to charge for notary services in Jail?
A. The actual fee for the notarizations is whatever your state maximum notary fees are. However, travel fees and waiting time fees are whatever you and your client agree on unless you are in a state that has travel fee restrictions.

Q. How much should a notary charge for swearing in a witness or a signer(s)?
A. Most states have a set fee for administering an Oath… you can charge that set fee.

Q. What is the maximum fee a notary can charge for an Acknowledgment in 2013 or 2012?
A. Please consult our find a notary page and then look up your state

Q. What is the maximum fee a notary can charge for a Jurat in 2013 or 2012?
A. Please consult our find a notary page and then look up your state

Q. What is the maximum charge for a notary in my state?
A. The fee depends on the particular notary act, so please look your state up on our find a notary page for details.

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