May 2013 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice -

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May 18, 2013

How do you explain the APR to a non-borrowing spouse?

I was talking to a notary on the East Coast. I was going to ask him a loan signing question, but then he retorted back a question in my direction before I could ask my question.

How do you explain the APR to a non-borrowing spouse?, he asked.

I gave him my routine mathematical definition of the APR and he was impressed. When he asked the question, I was thinking that this is a great question. It sounded like a trick question, but it actually is a very reasonable question. It suddenly occurred to me that the non-borrowing spouse is the epitome of a lay-person, and doesn’t understand complicated terms such as “amortized” or “finance charges”. If you have an MBA in Finance, you might not be the best person to explain an APR to someone’s wife. So, part of the genius of this question is that it tells you to use layperson language without telling you directly.

The other great aspect of this question is that it gives the opportunity to tangent goers to go off on a tangent — and they take this opportunity. I ask this question to many people, and 20% of the people go off on a very long explanation of what documents the non-borrowing spouse has to sign. But, that has nothing to do with the question. They didn’t LISTEN. This is a good listening and tangent going question. You learn very quickly who listens, and who can talk as well.

People notoriously leave out 90% of the meat of the answer when describing this confusing and diabolical term.

“It includes the fees”

Trust me, it includes a lot more than the fees.

“It reflects the cost of the loan”

Trust me, it also includes your interest as well as whatever the cost is.

“It’s usually higher than the rate”

Boy, are we being vague.

“It includes interest and fees”

Better, but very uneducated sounding.

Most answers to this question are either missing the target, or miss the main point of the APR.

The APR is a RATIO that is based on the payments relative to the total amount financed after: some of the finance charges, perhaps points, perhaps loan origination fees, PMI, and perhaps other fees have been deducted — and is reflected on a compounded annual rate.

I am not a lender and don’t know the “Real” definition. But, how the APR is calculated can vary from state to state, and from lender to lender. So, there is no absolute definition, but only definitions that are approximate. Unfortunately, the definitions I am hearing from the notaries are overly simplistic and generally just plain wrong!

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May 17, 2013

Why do I have to sign with my middle initial?

Filed under: SEO,Signing Tips — admin @ 11:03 pm

Do you get asked this question?

If your name on Title has your middle initial, is that the reason? I think so. But, what if your drivers license doesn’t have your middle initial? Then, you can not prudently be notarized with your middle initial. When signing loan documents, if you don’t sign exactly how your name is typed in the signature section, then you probably won’t get your loan. So, inconsistent middle initials can create an issue.

But, as notaries, you need to watch your signers carefully. Remember, you are there to babysit the signers. Unfortunately, most notaries are so unprofessional that they need to be babysat as well. But, you should know what you are doing.

At a signing, you should tell the borrowers exactly how they are to sign and have them practice on a piece of paper that is not part of their loan. Watch them. Make sure they don’t leave out any initials and make sure they sign using the applicable name variation.

Good luck

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May 9, 2013

Show me your ID

Show me your ID & you need to reimburse me for my lost time!

This is something a Notary typically asks a signer of documents. This time, the signer asked me, the Notary to show him my ID. Puzzled, I asked why. “These days, you never know who you are dealing with”, he said. I reminded him that the Title Company with whom he was working already informed him that I would be coming to notarize the loan documents. Because he seemed persistent and my goal was to complete the notarization & get paid (after spending the better part of an hour the night before printing everything in duplicate – 302 pages — and marking which docs needed to be faxed back), I showed him my Driver License and my business card which had the words, Notary Public next to my name.

The signer then had the temerity to tell me that someone form the Title Company had to reimburse him for the time that he lost waiting to sign the docs. To add insult to injury, he then nonchalantly tells me that because I was the Notary, the reimbursement should come out of my fees. Engaging the signer in this irrational argument with distorted logic would have been tantamount to banging my head against the wall. So, I listened attentively and ignored everything he said about reimbursement. I completed all of the notarizations and signings in 45 minutes and told him to contact the Title Company directly if he had any concerns. On the way out, he playfully asked to see my ID again. I politely said NO but gave him a couple of my business cards to give it to any of his friends who needed Notary services.

Lesson Learned: Don’t argue or engage in heated conversations with the signer who is angry over something you did not cause, contribute to or have any control over. Do your work correctly (you don’t want to go back a second time to correct your mistakes and this time the signer is even angrier because you made the error and what is worse you will not get paid the second time), get out, get paid and move on…

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What is a notary public?

What is a notary?

A notary is a state appointed public official that is authorized to conduct certain types of official acts such as Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Affirmations, Protests, and sometimes other notary public acts. Since notaries are appointed by their respective states, the laws for notary conduct and what types of official notary acts a notary can do vary from state to state.

Notary Acknowledgments & Identification Requirements
A notary public can execute acknowledgments. Acknowledgments are the most common notary act representing about 80% of all acts done by notaries! The notary must positively identify a signer as the first step in executing an acknowledgment. Identification requirements vary from state to state, but most states allow state issued identification cards, drivers licenses, and passports. As a general rule, any government issued photo-ID with a serial number, expiration date, and physical description is accepted. Social security cards, credit cards and green cards are not acceptable.

Identification through Credible Witnesses
Some states allow a notary to positively identify a signer through the use of credible witnesses who must be identified by the notary and then swear under Oath as to the identity of the signer. Personal knowledge of the signer used to be allowed in most states, but in recent years, notaries are required to rely on more “hard” forms of identification.

Notary Journals
After the identification process is over, the notary must fill out a journal entry in his/her official journal of notarial acts. Not all states require journals, but they should because the journal is the only record of a transaction that the notary has, and can be used in an investigation or in court after the fact. Such an investigation might happen in a few critical cases where fraud is suspected! The signer is required to sign the notary journal which is one of the most important parts of the notary process.

Notary Certificates
The notary must fill out an Acknowledgment Certificate with state specific Acknowledgment verbiage. The Acknowledgment wording can be embedded in the last page of the document, or could be added and stapled as a loose form.

The official notary seal
Notaries typically affix their seal to the notary certificate area in a document or on a loose certificate. This is a very official way that notaries finalize their notary acts. Notaries may use an inked rubber seal. Some states allow a notary public to also use an non-inked embosser which leaves a raised impression in a piece of paper — as a supplemental seal to deter fraud through page swapping.

A Jurat is a notary procedure where the notary administers an Oath. The signer has to raise his/her right hand and swear under Oath to the truthfulness of a document or statement in a Jurat form. Additionally, the signer must sign the document in front of the notary for a Jurat, where they can sign long ahead of time for an Acknowledgment. Identification requirements for Jurats vary from state to state. Jurats represent roughly 18% of all notarial acts!

Oaths and Affirmations
Notaries can perform or administer Oaths or Affirmations for clients. They should record such acts in their bound and sequential journal as well. Wording for Oaths is really up to the notary, but some standardized or formal wording is recommended such as, “Do you solemnly swear that the contents of this document are true and correct to the best of your knowledge?”. Or, “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”. The Oath verbiage depends on the situation and the document. However, it should be formal, and the Affiant (Oath taker) must raise their right hand definitively for this type of act. An Affirmation is the same as an Oath except for the fact that the word God is omitted from the Affirmation Verbiage.

This is an antiquated notary act where someone can protest the non-payment of a bill. I have never met a notary who has actually conducted such a notary act, but most states still include this as one of their official acts.

Acts allowed only in specific states
New York allows notaries to do Safety Box Openings as an official notary act while most other states do not. Rhode Island has something called a Marine Protest which is only an official notary act in Rhode Island. Various states allow notaries to act as a Witness as an official notary act as well. Additionally, please consult your state’s notary division for information about Apostilles and Authentications which typically involve either a local county recorder, the Secretary of State’s office, or a local embassy.

Documents that are commonly notarized.
Many notaries notarized Power of Attorney documents frequently. Notaries are advised not to draft such documents as they are legal documents. However, notaries can notarize signatures on such documents.

Affidavits of all sorts are normally notarized with a Jurat since they are to be sworn to (usually). The notary is forbidden from recommending a particular notary act over another, but they are not prohibited from stating what is “usually” done.

Wills can be notarized by a notary, however, it is generally frowned upon unless given written instructions from an Attorney!

Notaries can not notarize vital records such as Birth Certificates or Marriage Certificates.

A Notary Public can notarize Real Estate or Mortgage documents or loan documents except in certain Attorney states such as Massachusetts or Georgia where there are restrictions. Common loan documents that might be notarized could include Deeds of Trust, Signature Affidavits, Grant Deeds, Quit Claim Deeds, Occupancy Affidavits, and many more!

Where can I find a notary?
123notary has thousands of mobile notaries distributed throughout the United States that you can find on our Find a Notary page. They typically charge a travel fee and specialize in loan documents. To find a stationary notary, please consult your local yellow pages, or call pack & ship places in your area.

How can I become a notary?
Each state has a Secretary of State or Notary Division that appoints notaries. Please visit our state contact page, and contact your state’s notary division for details. Typically, you need to be 18 years old, not have a felony on your criminal record, be a citizen (some states require this), or in many states be legally residing in the United States. Most states have a Notary Public Application Form, and a Notary Public handbook for you to study from. You are normally required to pay an Application fee for becoming a notary, and there could be other fees for recording your Notary Oath of Office as well as the fee for your Stamp, Journal, and other related fees.

Is it worth it to become a notary?
It can be very rewarding to be a notary. You can make a lot of extra money in your spare time if you have a way to attract clients. You can meet new people, and learn new things. Mobile notaries who are good at what they do can make a full time living driving around doing loan signings. You can get a job more easily if the boss knows you are a notary, as that is a skill in high demand at many offices.

(1) A notary is a state appointed public official authorized to conduct certain types of official acts such as Jurats …
(2) A notary public can execute Acknowledgments, Jurats, Protests, Oaths, Affirmations…
(3) A quick guide to being a notary including: journals, seals, identification, witnesses, jurats, oaths & more…

I want to learn more!
Visit our GLOSSARY of notary and mortgage terms, and read more articles in our blog!


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May 3, 2013

Find a Notary — one who provides late night 24 hour service

I was thinking about this today. Everybody needs to sleep. In our search results for 24 hour notaries, we should document when their black hours are. Everybody sleeps sometime — even if it is during odd hours. If they are sleeping, then maybe another 24 hour notary would be a better candidate for a particular job. Some people go to sleep at 4am and wake at 8am, and they would be perfect for a 2am job. Don’t you think?

But, 123notary has tons of 24 hour notaries in our search results. Use the Find a Notary Public Search page to find these people. Roughy 25% of all of our 7000 notaries on the site provide 24 hour service (or claim to). This can be a real life saver.

The tricky part is that not all of these notaries are “real” 24 hour notaries. Some don’t answer the phone after hours, or even during business hours. So, how do you know which of our 24 hour notaries are real ones? Surprisingly, I have called many of these notaries myself and the MAJORITY do answer the phone late at night, even after midnight. Keep calling until you find one who can accommodate your job.

24 hour notaries are often used for last minute travel documents, hospital signings, airport signings, and loan signings for people who work unusual shifts. I did a loan signing at 2am for someone who got out of work at midnight. A bit unusual, but there was no traffic, and my client was very nice. It worked well.

Find a 24 hour notary public on on our Find a Notary page. Good luck!

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May 1, 2013

We should be setting the fees, not the other way around!

Filed under: Carmen Towles,Popular Overall — Tags: , — admin @ 9:00 am

I was reading on linked-in a thread that was started about a notary wanting to increase her signing agent fees based on gas prices. It was nothing outrageous just a simple $10.00 increase due to the rising fuel costs. This is not unreasonable, or is it?

Unfortunately today, in addition to fuel it seems everything that we use in our profession is rising, from paper, ink, etc., but the signing fees from many signing services are getting lower and lower. And I couldn’t help wonder how this increase or any increase for that matter is going to play out for those of you that choose to raise prices out of shear necessity. I remember back in our heyday when loan signing requests were at there all time high that I personally went to two of my major signing companies and requested ever so humbly that I needed a small fee increase. The response was that although they loved me and my work it was impossible for them to do this. My response was (in a nice but firm tone) that I felt that this was not an unreasonable request and I believed that they could very well increase the travel portion of my notary fee but just did not want to due to to the fact they didn’t want to share the fees any more than they have to. And although I didn’t say it I was thinking that it is was nothing but GREED that was the deciding factor and motivation for them to deny my request. It was at that time I stopped working for signing services at all. And I have never looked back.

So, now unbelievably so, it is 2012 and nothing has changed. From what all of you tell me (and from what I see with my own eyes) things are worse than ever in the fee department. Not to mention they have tacked on more duties that are now required of us, more pages to print, etc. For me it is just so outrageous that we are still allowing these companies to dictate what they will pay us. In my opinion, it should be the other way around. I don’t go in to my doctors office and tell him what I am going to pay for his services. He would definitely think I was nuts and most likely kick my you know what right out of his office. But what is even clearer is that I CAN’T go into anybody’s office requesting services and tell them what I am going to pay them. This is ludicrous. The signing services should take a percentage (lets say 30%) and that it is. After all we DO the bulk of the work. But sadly when working for most signing services we make the least amount of money. How did this come to be and how did it become acceptable to all of us?? When did it become okay for them to set our fees for us? Hell, did anybody ask you if this was ok?… I am positive nobody asked me!

I mean I have never heard of any industry that if independent allows OTHERS to dictate the fee for someones else service. If I have several notaries when calling around marketing or when they get a call requesting service, asking “How much do you pay?? Are you serious? This is UNACCEPTABLE to me! Why are WE asking how much THEY pay!?! We should be getting the details of what will be required and then offering up a price that is inline with the service that we are going to provide. Certainly not the other way around! This needs to stop! And it can stop with each of us doing our part. Stop asking and start telling!

Now, occasionally I read the boards and there will be a thread about price fixing… this is NOT what I am talking about. I mean are the appraisers, plumbers, doctors, private attorneys, etc price fixing when they keep their prices within a ball park of each other?? Certainly, not. It is about getting what you are worth! PERIOD. Until we start sticking together soon and I mean very soon; you WILL be working for free! (we damn near are now) And now, before anybody says it, I realize that they are more often than not the liaison between us and the title/escrow companies but if we all stick together and refuse these low ball fees, our fees WILL come up. And on a side note, if you ask me, it seems that the signing companies are the ones that are guilty of price fixing!!

I’d love to hear some of your feedback on this issue!

Until next time! Be Safe!

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