NNA Certified Signing Agents who failed our test!
This story goes back many years, perhaps close to a decade. 123notary.com started off very simply without much technology. We couldn’t afford to do any more than barely build the site back in those days. I had to decide whether to have a certification or not. It looked more professional if we had our own certification. But, it has always been like pulling teeth to convince the NNA certified signers to even consider taking our test.
Notaries couldn’t answer simple questions without a long pause.
In the old days, we used to give our certification test by phone. It was a dozen or so basic questions about loan signing that any mediocre signing agent with hardly any experience could probably answer. What I noticed is that those who passed the National Notary Association’s signing agent exam (NNA certified signers) failed our test roughly 70% of the time. There was a lot of “umm” and “ahm”, and “hmmm” during the phone exam. Their CSA exam was open book and without any time limit, so they were used to being able to get away with thinking forever to answer simple questions such as, “Where can you find the Rate in a loan”. I can’t think of a simpler question. The harder questions threw most people. I got sick of being patient and waiting for people to answer ridiculously easy questions. The only thought that ran through my head was that if I were a borrower, I would throw these notaries out of my house if they couldn’t answer simple questions.
The timed test
So, then we got some fancy programming done and made an online test. I was tired of waiting two minutes for the answers to simple questions, so a timed test was the only way for the notaries to prove their manhood or ladyhood. There were revolving questions and a timer. We had a few technical problems along the way, and many didn’t like my style of questions. As time progressed, we got rid of the “ambiguous” questions, and added a few practical marketing questions. We also tried to have questions specific to the state where the notary claimed to be, but that turned out to be unpopular, so we dropped it eventually. The bottom line, was that most notaries couldn’t handle the time pressure — even the NNA certified signing agents.
The ex-Mortgage broker’s story
I had a few people who worked in Title or Mortgage houses who assured me that it was a joke that they even had to take my exam. After all, they had been doing this for 20 years. So, many people (including NNA certified signers) tried to convince me that they didn’t NEED to take my dumb exam. Almost all of these overly confident know-it-alls FAILED my test, and then wasted my time arguing with me. They didn’t read the prep book, and they didn’t know their basics about loan signing regardless of their background. There is a lot of overlap between Title and Mortgage work and loan signing, but there are additional things you need to know to be a good signer. It is a different profession.
What does our test prove?
Roughly 25% of our notaries on board have passed our basic certification exam. The others either failed, or never tried in the first place. If people had spent the same amount of time studying for the test as they did arguing with us about why they shouldn’t have to take the test, their business would be a lot different. 123notary certification proves that you know your basics, and that you can function under extreme time pressure without breaking. That says a lot. Most people can not handle the pressure. When I created the test, I could pass it in three minutes and Carmen passed it in four and a half minutes. Test takers were allowed six and a half minutes to ensure that the majority who studied hard would pass the first time.
Does it matter what you think about our test?
What I think about my test, or what you or Carmen think about my test doesn’t matter even slightly. The browsers care tremendously about my test, and (news flash!) they are the ones who are paying you. 123notary certified signers are three times as likely to get work. Even browsers who didn’t know what the certification meant, and who had a regular document to be signed like an affidavit which had nothing to do with loan signing still chose certified signers if they could. Ten years ago, I used 123notary as my primary source of marketing my personal mobile notary work. Time after time I got called at 11pm to notarize a simple form. I kept hearing, “We chose you because you were certified and the others were not”.
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The signing from hell
The Signing from hell….
I have been a notary signing agent for many years now and for the most part I have enjoyed it tremendously. I love the freedom and independence that it affords me and I enjoy meeting wonderful new people from all walks of life. As with most jobs there are good and bad days. This is the tale of one of those bad days. Probably the worst day as a signing agent ever-for me that is.
The story begins
Get ready for a hell of a story. Here we go. I got a call late on a Friday afternoon from one of my title company schedulers (Fidelity National Title) for a job on the following day, a Saturday. I gladly accepted. I received the confirmation and then proceeded to call the borrower to verify time and place. Saturday came and I made my way over to the borrower’s home. When I drove up to the borrowers home the first thing I noticed was the house was VERY run down, and I couldn’t help wondering to myself if the bank knew what they were doing in granting a loan for this property but who am I to judge.
Going up the stairs…
So I parked and then proceeded up the stairs to the house and could see and feel that the whole house was crooked, like on slant. It was obvious It had once been a single family house that somebody who obviously didn’t have a contractors license had chopped it up and made some what I call make shift apartments out of it. And you could actually see the termites crawling on various pieces of exposed wood. But again it is not my place to judge. So I went to what looked like the only real front door (as there were several) and knocked. I heard what I thought was an animal with paws approaching the door.
The Signer and his long clicking toe nails!
But to my surprise it was a young man. But not just an ordinary man but a man with the longest toe nails I have every seen (that is what I heard coming to the door the clicking of his toe nails hitting the floor as he walked). He was also the filthiest person that I have seen as well who living in a house and not on the streets. He was wearing dirty boxers and a dirty torn tee shirt. Then to top it off there was a smell that I cannot to this day describe. While I stood motionless in disbelief and shock, I heard a sweet woman’s voice saying ‘is that her, is that the lady…tell her to come on up…please come on up’…and I cannot tell you why but I went into the door way and accened up a dark stairway and I heard what I assumed was the young man that opened the door who now was behind me start turning about 4-5 locks one by one and as they clicked and locked behind me and I became terrified..truthfully I thought I was going to see my maker that day but I kept on climbing the stairs and the further I ascended up the stairs the stench got worse.
The air was so thick… I could have cut it with a knife…
I could hardly breath. There was absolutely no ventilation. The air was so thick I could have cut it with a knife. And I thought to myself I must have lost my mind. To this day I still cant explain why I didnt just turn around when the front door first opened and just leave. When I reached the the top of the stairs it was very dark and as my eyes started to adjust there was more horror. Dishes and trash pilled everywhere and there were two extremely dirty mattresses one on the floor which the young man who had let me in proceeded to ly down on and cover himself up with a dirty blanket and the other which was sitting up on a mattress frame was the lady who I presumed had called out to m. She was sitting on the edge of the mattress with two swollen legs that resembled tree trunks with clearly to me looked like flesh eating disease. There was an abundance of open sores and I’ll just leave it at that. She then says to me that they had just painted the floor and I was to sit in that area…I said excuse me….and she then pointed to a 10 foot corner that had a coach that clearly had been freshly painted…I thought to myself I must be in the twlight zone or on one of those candid camera tv shows….
The signing begins..
I sat down and asked for the documents (they had been overnighted to the borrower; it was one of those WAMU deals, and I guess it it obvious now why they went out of business…lol) and the signers ID. She looked puzzled but asked the young man to get up and look for the requested items….he reluctantly got up and looked for a few minutes but to me it didnt seem that he was really looking or knew what he was looking for. He was wandering around aimlessly and then told the lady that he could not find them. She accepted this and all I’ll say is that I was so grateful that the ID and and loan docs couldn’t be found…I immediately got up let them know I had to go for I had another appointment and if the missing items came up please call so we could re-schedule another appointment (yes, I lied) and then with the young man in front leading me out I proceedded to the stairway and headed down the steps.
No ID? No problem, let’s reschedule.. time to go!!!!
Thankfully he had the unlocked those locks and he was opening the door when I reached the foot of the steps. I thanked him and bolted through the door gasping for air as I went. I really didnt realize how much I was shaken up until I reached my car. I fumbled for the key, opened the drivers door, sat behind the drivers seat and began trembling. I could still smell that dreadful smell. Dear god, I had brought it with me. Before I could compose myself, in a state is horror, I once again heard those clicks of those toe nails and looked up to see the young man at my passenger side car door excitingly letting me know that he had found the loan doc’sI could hear him saying “Oh Miss, Oh miss I got what you need” and me being the quick thinker I am, I asked him had he found the ID as well. He looking disappointed said oh no…and walked back to his house. All I could do was just sit there and try to regain my composure. Soon after however I felt sick to my stomach and I opened the door leaned my head down towards the street concrete and everything that had been in my stomach come up….After about 15 minutes I started the car up and went home. I opened my front door and stripped down and left it all outside. Clothes, briefcase and all. I took a long hot shower and washed the clothes I had been wearing. After this I immediately sat down and sent Fidelity a very long recap of all of these events and told them NOT to send a request that I go back…ever. When Monday came I got a an apology via email from Fidelity and that was the end of it. I never heard one thing about it ever again. Shortly after however, I did receive my full fee of 150.00. Of this I was thankful.
I was polite through the whole ordeal!
In closing, there is one thing I want to add. Although I was very uncomfortable with the whole situation. The borrower and who I presumed was her son, never new for one minute that I had issues with any of what I described here. I was cheerful, kind and professional throughout all of it.
Until next time…