November 2014 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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November 24, 2014

Is $75 enough to print 2 sets of docs, notarize & do faxbacks?

In this tough economy, many notaries have simply dropped out. The remaining notaries, as tough or as proud as they portrayed themselves to be have simply had to compromise their standards for what they charge. Many signing agents with ten or more years of experience told Carmen (in confidence) that they were forced to accept $60 signings just to stay afloat. So, we won’t mention any names, but you know who you are. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Americans complain about what Indians would regard as a luxury!
Notaries complain endlessly about how unfair it is that they only get $75 for so much work with such high expenses. My take on the situation is quite different because I travel. A policeman in India makes $50 per month (not including bribes.) Can you imagine living on $50 per month? How would you rent a place to live? You would be living on top of each other twenty to a room and eating dahl and rice in small quantities once or twice per day if you were lucky. Can you imagine this type of poverty that hard working Indians endure as a matter of standard procedure? And what about the folks in the countryside who work for 20 rupees per day which is about 40 cents. That is about $12 per month. When you get these $75 assignments, just say to yourself, “I made four months of a Bihari farmworker’s salary in two hours! Yippee!”

If you are doing worse than last year, do you get upset?
It is a human tendency to be sad when you are not getting what you want, or what you used to easily get. But, this human tendency needs to be changed. We live in a changing world where what was impossible yesterday might be easy tomorrow, and vice versa. You need to just do the best you can do and not base your life today on whether it is better or worse than last year. Notaries base their fees on 123notary on what they paid last year. If I charge $150 this year, but only $120 last year, they are upset that they are paying more this year than last year. What really matters is not what happened last year, but if your investment is getting you a sufficient return.

Let’s do the math
If you get $75 for a loan signing, how much work and expense is really involved. You might spend 20 minutes on the phone on average including follow up calls, scheduling and making sure the documents arrive through whatever medium is used. You might need to drive thirty to forty-five minutes both ways to the signing. You might go through 350 pages of paper, and some toner or ink printing the documents which is not for free unless you have a gift certificate to office-max.

Your real expenses might be $4 of car expenses including gas, oil changes, and other wear and tear.
If you can purchase paper for a bulk price you might use up $3 in paper, and $2 in ink or toner (just guessing)
You might use up two hours of your time including everything: 1 hour driving; 30 minutes signing; 20 minutes on the phone; 10 minutes doing fax backs. (best case scenario)
After expenses, you get $66 profit and you can deduct your miles at the Federal mileage rate as well!
If you spent two hours total, you got $33 per hour.

On the other hand, if you spent an hour each direction, had to wait four hours for documents, and the signers read every letter of every page and asked a million questions, plus spent an hour on the phone with Fred the lender, then you might have invested seven hours which would leave you with $9 per hour which is still above minimum wage in most states.

$20/hour is not bad for someone who can just walk in off the street.
I would say in all honesty, that the average signing agent probably makes about $20 per hour for their assignments. More seasoned signing agents who command higher rates like $125 or more per signing might make $45 per hour on average. Being a relatively inexperienced signing agent is not a high skilled job like being a nuclear physicist. You do not merit $50 or more per hour unless you are the best 1% of notaries in the business or are an Attorney. All you need to be a notary signing agent is to be a resident of a state (not even a citizen in many states,) fill out an application (most states don’t even have a notary exam,) get bonded, and take a quick class in loan signing; $20 per hour is not bad for someone who can just walk in off the street and start doing loan signings. For a notary with three years of experience, they should be making more like $25-$30 per hour. That is what I made when I was doing signings with that level of experience!

You might also like:

Pricing strategies for mobile notary work
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=697

Pricing formulas and time spent
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=588

Sample prices for various types of loan signings
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=84

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November 21, 2014

Notary Pick Up Lines Part 2

Filed under: Humorous Posts — Tags: — admin @ 10:40 am

This one was written by a guest blogger.
It is rated (R), so if you are tight on morality, please skip on to the next one!

You get my stamp of approval that’ll never expire.

Lien on me, baby.

After impressing my notary seal to this document, I’d rather impress you.

How ‘bout affix-up? (or… How ‘bout an affix-up?)

Let’s talk dirty and swear under oath.

What do you say we change the venue to my place?

If you look at another notary’s writs, I’ll get subpoenas-envy.

Is that an embosser in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me? (off the old come-on first made famous by Mae West that’s lived ever since, “Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”)

After acknowledging you signed a document, feel like acknowledging my existence?

While you certify that date, how ‘bout certifying our date?

I affirm under penalty of law you’re hot.

Why bear witness to documents when we can bear each other’s souls?

It’s a crime if you don’t go out with me, punishable by the death of my social life.

Forget power of attorney. Right now I’m thinking about the power of that blouse (you’re wearing).

Come witness our initials in that tree.

There’s no statute of limitation to how much I want you (right now).

Hi. If I’m bothering you, it’s just a duress rehearsal.

(some slightly edgier ones…)

After you sign the deed, how ‘bout we do that other deed? (the proverbial “dirty deed” as in screw.)

This is just my notary public façade. Wait till you see my privates.

I’m state-approved. Care for a drink? I’m also state of intoxication-approved.

Are you as loose as that certificate? (re: “loose certificate”)

My seal isn’t the only thing that’s raised right now.

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You might also like:

But, I’m still a virgin!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14915

Notary Pick Up Lines Part 1
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=9851

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November 18, 2014

HUD-1 The Settlement Statement

Filed under: (4) Documents,Ken Edelstein — Tags: , — admin @ 9:04 pm

“We are waiting for approval of the HUD before we can send you the docs”. I’m sure you have heard that frequently. Arguably the single most informative document in the package. The HUD, along with the Note, Mortgage and TIL (you better know what the letters stand for) comprise the heart of the deal. Although the HUD is usually not notarized, you DO have to take a look at it.

Probably the most important things for you to check are lines 303 and 603 on the first page. But first take a look at items D and E on the top. D & E name the borrower and seller. Generally you will meet either the borrower or the seller; occasionally both. Now you know if you are meeting with the borrower or the seller, and a quick check of 303 and 603 will let you know if there is “Cash (x) From” due. You are expected to notice cash from and to pick up the payment.

Generally the check is made payable to the Settlement Agent. The agent is named in box H at the top of the form. The check(s) are usually made out to the name in box H. On page 2 in the 1100 series of entries there is often a notary fee listed. Sorry, but that is not the amount that you will receive; it’s the amount payable to the Signing Service. If it says $350 and you took the job for $75; you can be sure the Signing Service considers you a hero. As you recall they said they are only getting $125, you might have a slightly different opinion of them.

There is generally a separate signature page. Oddly, the signature page is often not numbered and really has no “tie” to the HUD itself. Take care here; often the signature page requires two signatures. It’s an easy mistake to just obtain the first required signature but not the second. It’s also easy to become a favorite with the settlement company. They need several copies of the HUD and often make them and stamp them with “Certified True Copy” – they are always delighted when the notary prints a few originals, five is a nice quantity; and has original signatures on each.

Sometimes you will receive the entire package minus the HUD; which you are told will follow as soon as it’s approved. Wanna take a chance? If so, go ahead and print the two copies of the docs that you currently have in your inbox. Don’t be too surprised if you are told to shred what you printed. Numbers on the can HUD relate directly to other numbers in the package. If at all possible wait for word that the HUD is “final” prior to printing the package.

As the HUD is the key “money expenses” page; it’s common for the borrower to receive email with “preliminary” numbers. Obsolete HUDs (that are not the “final”) look very similar to the “final” that you brought to the table. Take care that an earlier HUD, printed by the borrower is not mixed in with the documents that you printed. Borrowers will frequently want to compare the one they printed (left hand) to the one you brought (right hand). Be absolutely sure that you return the one sent to you and not the one sent to the borrower.

There is a silver lining to the gray cloud of HUDs. It’s a federal form and almost always the HUD is basically identical and it’s easy to find information. However, I have seen “HUD clones” that do not follow the standardized format. Take care to look closely to determine how these are signed (perhaps also initialed?). Rarely notarized, it’s an easy form to process. Return a few copies of what was sent to you, signed in all the right places.

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November 15, 2014

2014 Most ACTIVE signing companies

These companies were the most active in 2014 each with multiple comments in our forum.

Accurate National Signing Service
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5512

Always Signing
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6515

American Signing Connection
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2397

BNN Services
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4694

Convenient Closers
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6071

Doc Pros
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2546

e-Notaries.net
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4810

Executive Signing Agents
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2218

FASS
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2829

Field Choice
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4677

Global Notary
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2517

Land & Law Group
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6102

Loan Processing Center
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4934

LSI
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6591

Mobile Signing Solutions Corp
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4379

Mortgage Connect LP
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3430

Morttgagedocs.com
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4082

Nations Direct
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2436

Servicelink
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3537

Sign Here Ink
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6596

Signing Stream
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5872

Skye Closings
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3714

Timios Title
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4907

WFG National Title Insurance Company
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5117

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2011 most active signing companies
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1170

Witnessing intake forms for notary heaven
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=8832

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November 10, 2014

Is having an NNA background check really necessary to get work?

Filed under: Marketing Articles — Tags: — admin @ 7:22 am

There is not enough work for signing agents these days. We have heard that in the last month or two it got a little better, but this is the worst the mortgage business has seen in seventeen years. To be a CSS, you need a yearly background check. But, it is expensive, and many feel that it is unclear if they really need this to get work.

What does the NNA background check query?
Social Security number trace
County criminal court records
Federal criminal records
Statewide criminal records
Nationwide criminal database
Motor vehicle records
National sex offender database
USA Patriot Act lists
Office of foreign assets lists

But, I’m already background checked through my state!
Although California background screens notaries when they apply for a notary commission, this is only done once every four years. Additionally, the standards for working in the finance industry are higher than those for becoming a notary, and the state background checks don’t check as many sources of information as the signing agent background check does.

Sharing Personal Information?
Another question is whether the NNA or other testing agencies will be sharing your background information with financial institutions or others and whether or not this is legal. I do not have detailed information on this matter. However, the background check is pass fail, and some notaries are claiming that the only information that will be shared is if you passed or failed, and not your personal information.

On NotaryRotary, one notary claimed on May 26th, that before a background check can be done — you have to agree that NNA or BGO may share a detailed report of your background screening with any institutions that issue a written request. So, it remains fuzzy as to how much of your personal information can be shared. Another notary claims that her social security number was not shared, but that her Driver License information was.

Do you really need it?
I read many Linked In discussions on this topic and learned that it is becoming increasingly necessary to be background checked to get work. The requirement is taking effect little by little instead of all at once. Another claims that it is the NNA background check that many companies are looking for and background checks by other agencies are not being accepted nearly as much. One notary claims that NNA background checks are a cost of doing business at the moment which cannot be circumvented. One long time notary claimed that he did just fine without the background check, but his point of view is in the minority at this time.

Summary
Although I personally feel that yearly certifications and annual background checks are overkill, it appears that many companies are requiring this, and that more will soon follow suit. To me, a very thorough background check once in four years is plenty. The chance that you will suddenly become a freelancer working for Al-Qaeda in the middle of your notary term is slim. And the chance that you will suddenly engage in Mortgage fraud is also slim. We have only heard of two notaries out of millions that have been convicted of any serious frauds involving jail time in the last decade.

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Do you have to be a CSS to get work these days?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=8914

Background Screening for notaries?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2418

Can a notary perform a marriage?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1891

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November 4, 2014

The Affidavit of Occupancy

An affidavit of occupancy is a simple document (sometimes notarized), that offers the borrower generally three choices. The first option (generally by making initials) is to have the property as a Primary Residence. This option typically requires the borrower to occupy the property, usually within 60 days; for a minimum of one year. The second option is to acquire the property as a second home, while maintaining a primary residence elsewhere. The third major option is to declare the property as Investment Property, not to be occupied by the borrower; but to sell or rent for rental income. It is unlikely that the borrower cannot accurately choose the correct option.

Care should be taken by the borrower to initial the correct choice. The wrong choice can result in financial and even criminal penalties at a later date. If the borrower is buying to live in, there is really no issue. However, when the intent is speculation or rental; it’s accurate disclosure or risk problems. Lower Mortgage Rates are available for owner occupied. This is why the intent to rent or speculate must be disclosed.

Affidavits of occupancy are especially relevant for small-time or independent real estate investors. If a borrower were to select “investment property” then choose to move in permanently – there probably would be no problem. Of course they would be paying a higher mortgage rate, lenders are rarely annoyed by such activity. It is the reverse, claiming to move in; getting a lower mortgage rate, then renting it out that causes problems.

Since affidavits of occupancy are not heavily regulated or governed by formal, industry-wide guidelines, they’re often originated in-house by the mortgage lenders or other real estate professionals. Thus, unlike the standardized HUD, there really is no uniform structure to the Affidavit of Occupancy. Actually it might just as well be called an Occupancy Certification, or similar. The only aspect that seems to appear with regularity is the need for the borrower to specify how they intend to utilize the property. This is generally done by initialing a specific paragraph, but some variations may call for a complete signature.

This form is a redundancy to similar assurances that appear in the Mortgage, namely, how the borrower intends to utilize the property that secures the loan. The occupancy statement contains strong language, 30 years in prison, fine of a million dollars, etc., per Title 18 US code Sec. 1001, and others. They are a separate document that the borrower cannot ignore, often notarized; and help the lender to charge a higher rate for loans that have greater risk. Typically, rental or investment property has greater risk. The difference can be half a percent that will be several thousand dollars or more over the life of the agreement.

They serve as an extra layer of protection against mortgage fraud and provide lenders with a clear chain of evidence that can be used to expose and prosecute such fraud. Whereas a homeowner might be able to make a plausible if unconvincing argument that he or she misunderstood the intent of the “occupancy question” that’s often buried within the structure of a mortgage settlement document, he or she has little chance of avoiding penalties for breaking an affidavit of occupancy. The affiants who “break” these (often) sworn statements risk being charged with mortgage fraud. At the very least the lender can demand full payment of all money due.

In processing this document care should be taken to be sure that all borrowers initial/sign the section that specifies the intended use of the property. Some lenders might require a non-obligor to also sign/initial. It’s probably a safe bet to have any signatory to the document also initial/sign the selection section.

It is the real intent of this document to curb the activities of those who wish to obtain property at a low mortgage rate for speculation or to become “little” landlords. Sometimes it takes years for the housing authorities and the lender to discover the fraud. Those false statements can and do incur harsh civil and criminal penalties. In addition to the mortgage fraud; housing violations are common. The form is simple and easy to understand. There really is nothing for the notary to “explain”. A notarized false statement is exactly that; in addition to being a crime.

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You might also like:

The Signature Name Affidavit
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16298

Ken’s Guide to Deeds of all types
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16285

The Compliance Agreement
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15828

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