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December 22, 2015

A Newbie at a Title Company

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Popular on Facebook (A little) — Tags: , — admin @ 12:00 pm

A Newbie at Title Co.
Most of our jobs are quite routine. Once in a while, thankfully not often; something crosses our path that is extraordinary. It could be very nice, or a mess; as you might have expected – I write about a mess. The docs are the docs, we are expected to make them work. However, there are limits to what, as notaries, we can process. Title has an agenda. It’s their objective to get the papers processed as quickly as possible. It has to be a mess of galactic proportions for them to either dump it, or redraw the docs. Notaries also have an agenda, and one item usually at the top of the list is to do the assignment legally. It’s not our job to enforce the law; merely to abide by it.

After accepting the “piggyback”, for a fair, but modest fee; I learn it’s to be via POA. OK, kinda, they take longer but that is our lot in life. I am told that some “special signing instructions” will be sent to me. I assume it’s their preferred POA phraseology. Some want “Mickey Mouse by Minnie Mouse, his attorney in fact”. Others reverse it: “Minnie Mouse as attorney in fact for Mickey Mouse”. I prefer the latter because the name to be sworn comes first. Both are not at all a factor in the notary section where *only* Minnie would be named. But, this assignment tried to, IMHO, not bend, but break the rules.

The instructions directed me to name the affiant and POA issuer, as sworn. Thus, before me appeared: “Minnie Mouse & Mickey Mouse via POA”. To me that was a new twist. It would appear that Minnie would be, based on the POA; taking my oath issued to Mickey! Just as we cannot delegate our notary status to someone else; oath taking cannot be via proxy. Sayeth title: “there are two signature lines on the notarized document, thus there needs to be two persons named in the notary section”. Admirable logic, a bit of arithmetic; 2=2; that’s hard to argue.

But, that would be an improper notarization. Only the person(s) who actually “appeared before me…” can be named. This set of docs had it both ways. Some had both names filled in the notary section; some had “via Power of Attorney”; and a few were for me to write in. When I called title, informing of the need for me to redact all entries other than “Minnie Mouse”; I received more bad news.

“Her legal first name is not “Minnie”, it’s “Min”. However she took title as Minnie, and an AKA form is not allowed – you just have to notarize her as Minnie””. Strike Two – this job was going downhill faster than the Cyclone at Coney Island. I call Ms. Mouse, to my surprise and delight her driver license had “Minnie”. She told me she used that name all her life; though Min was on her birth certificate. Words, Words; to me it’s what is on the driver license that counts.

During my chat with Ms. Mouse she also mentions that the papers need to be processed quickly. It seems that Mr. Mouse is deceased! Whoa, hold on partner – in every state when the agent knows of the principal’s demise – their authority ceases to exist. Title and Ms. Mouse want to proceed with a voided Power of Attorney! What is my position? My notarizations would make no mention to a Power of Attorney. In my Jurat “before me appeared Minnie Mouse” would be the only entry, and she does have valid ID in that name. I never did find out if title knew of the demise of Mr. Mouse.

I bail out. There had been too many heated exchanges with Title; my insistence on proper format soured them. She told me her legal name was Min, so some doubt. Worst of all would be to facilitate the use of a no longer valid Power of Attorney. Best to not be a party to the eventual litigation!


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December 19, 2015

2015 List of Title & Escrow Companies

Capital Title

Chicago Title

Client First Settlement Funding

Convenient Settlement Services

Crystal Settlement Services

DB Title, LLC

DRI Title & Escrow

Finiti Title

First Service Title

Homefront Escrow, Inc.

LandSel Title Agency, Inc.

Landmark Title

Lender Title Solutions

Meymax Title Agency of Ohio, LLC

Monroe Title Insurance Corp.

Moritz Title Company, LLC

National Title Solutions

National TitleNet, LLC

New House Title

Northpoint Title

Old Republic National Title Insurance Company

Peachtree Settlements

Performance Title

Preferred Choice Escrow

Professional Settlement Services

Providence Title

Quality Title Agency

Ravenswood Title

Residential Title & Escrow

Reunion Title

Silk Abstract

So Cal Escrow Center, Inc.

Stewart Title — Tumwater, WA

Superior Abstract & Title

TranStar National Title

US Title Agency

Vantage Point Title



December 11, 2015

The Lonely Italian — parady in a Notary context

I just met a very charismatic waiter from a restaurant up in the hills of Beverly Glen. He was so interesting and full of energy! But, he told me about what he does when he is not waiting on tables. He creates movies! I guess this is Los Angeles, what do you expect? Everyone here who works at a cafe or restaurant either directs, produces, acts, or dies trying. But, his movie was very interesting.

The movie was about an Italian guy who moves to the U.S. in his early twenties. He goes on every single dating site that exists and dates 150 women. It is a pseudo-documentary — part based on his real life, plus a substantial amount of embellishments. I like the part where he wears a Rabbi outfit and dates a girl from a Jewish dating site. He sprinkles a little Kosher salt on his food and says, “I’m adding a little Kosher!” He dated a girl from Farmer’s only, Cupid, Match.com, and even a site for people with fetishes. Online dating is so popular these days, yet I’ve never seen a movie about it — especially not a movie like this.

So, I asked him if he could learn Chinese and show a clip of him dating a Chinese girl while speaking Chinese with all of the Italian hand gestures. That would be a sight to see. We talked for almost an hour. But, at the end of our talk, there was just one more thing that I needed to ask him.

Can you modify your movie just a little bit? I have two dating sites for Notaries — and you could date some of the women from these sites. One is called Jurat and the other is called Affiant. We were going to start NotaryMatch too, but the programming bills got too out of hand. I wonder what the script would be like.

NOTARY: So, it is so fun to date you. You are so interesting.

LONELY ITALIAN: Yes, I like to broaden my horizons-a here. Just to make the date more interesting. I brought-a the document. Can you show me your particular style of notarizing it?

NOTARY: Oh, well I don’t notarize off hours. I don’t have my equipment with me.

LONELY ITALIAN: Oh, you use-a equipment? That sounds-a so interesting.

NOTARY: Well, I left it in my car.

LONELY ITALIAN: Well, let’s-a go back and-a get it. I like-a to see what a woman is really about on the first date. No secrets.

NOTARY: Okay… well here it is. Let’s find a table.

LONELY ITALIAN: Okay, let’s notarize-a sitting-a right-a here. But, one-a more-a question. Is it-a possible to use that Notary equipment and-a procedure — you know, in a romantic way?

NOTARY: What??????? This is too much! I’ll have to think about that… (pause) Okay. I thought about it. And the answer is — NOT ON THE FIRST DATE!

LONELY ITALIAN: One more question. Can-a we backdate?

NOTARY: Ha ha ha. You are funny. You are too cute, that is why I’m letting you get away with all of your premature suggestions.

LONELY ITALIAN: Hey. If you can’t be mature, you can be premature — it’s the next-a best-a thing!

(two hours later)

NOTARY: That was the best conversation of my life. You are a very interesting guy. And yes, we can go out on a second date. But, that date will be at Cafe Jurat. A restaurant exclusively for Notaries. That way you’ll see what our people eat.

LONELY ITALIAN: Is that the place where you have-a certified Angus beef, embossed Oreo cookies, and-a you notarized the stamp on the parking validation?

NOTARY: Very good! You have definitely been reading up on the ways of our people. See you next Friday. Don’t be late otherwise I’ll have to change the date & time section in my journal.



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December 5, 2015

Has anyone used SnapDocs?

There was a very lively discussion on Linked In about SnapDocs.

Here is what Notaries had to say about it:

(1) One Notary claimed that her higher paying vendors were paying $150-175 and then decreased their rates after starting using SnapDocs!

(2) Another Notary likes SnapDocs because you can access documents from multiple signing companies on the same platform and it is easy to use!

(3) Many Notaries dislike how SnapDocs uses cattle calls which decreases the price of the signing.

(4) The Notary Spot has been reported to be using SnapDocs

(5) SnapDocs requires you to update your profile from time to time or create a new profile. Hmmm, sounds like 123notary!

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December 2, 2015

Frustrating 4-hour signing & other stories (compilation)

The frustrating 4-hour signing.
This was by far the most frustrating closing I have ever done. This should have been a very easy job – a standard purchase loan. However, the real estate agents dragged this on for 4 hours! Unbelievable! They were just making trouble with every detail even though nothing was wrong with anything on the documents themselves. One of them kept repeated everything I said. She questioned everything on the document. They were bad mouthing the title company in front of the clients. They were cussing in front of the clients and being extremely unprofessional. They made the entire situation extremely unpleasant, lengthy, and unnecessarily difficult. Note to self : do not work with these realtors ever again, and do not ever let the realtors take control of the situation. Lesson learned!

Aluminum foil on the windows & an AK47
“Once, I got to a place, and there was aluminum foil on the windows and an AK 47 in the stereo cabinet. This man was about 50 and he was living with his mother. I was so scared I just did not know what to do… but, I actually went ahead and notarized the signatures on the documents and filled out the Virginia Notary Acknowledgment forms… very very quickly! It was a signing for some kind of financial hardship, and I couldn’t help feeling bad for the mother. I have often wondered what the story was or if she is still alive,” says our Virginia Notary

How to get lowball signing companies to stop bugging you for good!
I just talked to a Vermont notary who gave me some very common sense solutions to a problem she had been having for a long time. For years, low ballers had been bugging her offering her not enough money. Then, she put in her NOTES SECTION, what here minimum charge was. Immediately, the nuisance calls stopped!

Wow! What I recommend, is put it high in your notes section, because the first 100 or so characters of your notes show up on the search results. If it clearly says: $90 minimum for loan signings, the low ballers will ball somewhere else. It’s that easy! If that doesn’t work, then change your business name to, “Elite Mobile Notary” and hope for the best!

Going to the signing w/your girlfriend?
I never realized that this is a good technique. I was with my girlfriend when a regular client called. I had to go to his house. I had my girlfriend wait in the car. I was in and out in 15 minutes. I made money while having fun with friends. Then, we went out and had fun. But, this is actually a good technique for getting people to go faster.

“Sorry to mention this, but my girlfriend is waiting in the car, we actually have to be somewhere.”

Some people will say, “That’s your problem!” Others will say, “Gee, that doesn’t sound very professional.” I wouldn’t do this for signings with Title companies, but for rinky-dink notary jobs you can try it. If it is just you waiting, your time is expendable. But, if they are inconveniencing you and the girlfriend, and whomever is waiting for you, then it becomes bigger than just you. Try this and let me know if it works.



December 1, 2015

Notary Image

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Popular on Facebook (A little) — admin @ 11:55 am

Notary Image
You can be sure I will not be discussing the “selfie” of you and your client; and, it does not matter a hoot whose idea it was. Rather, I will (attempt) to explore the components of notary image. Some are readily apparent. They are on the “checksheet” of “notary appearance” and ask if your shoes are shined and if it’s clean under your fingernails. Oddly, they never include the manicure?

But, I will grant that part of your image is certainly your appearance. Routine Business Casual seems to be the baseline, with a suit being the usual top tier. I have yet been asked to wear a Tuxedo to a signing. Perhaps that’s next. At the other extreme: I freely admit to going to some appointments truly slovenly. Usually, I have been working on my 1974 Honda CB360 motorcycle when the call comes in. My grandpa had an expression worth sharing. “Truth is the greatest labor saving device; and I’m basically lazy”. Putting that wisdom into practice, when I am “a mess” I TELL the caller exactly what and why. Some jobs are rush, the person must leave soon. When that is the type of call they get choices. I can leave immediately on my Honda and go to you, but dogs will howl and babies will cry when they see me. Or, I can add half an hour to my arrival time and have a decent appearance. Or, you can call someone else on http://123notary.com

The QUALITY of the work you do bears greatly on your image. When you stamp do you hit a part of an area you intended to avoid? How about spending some practice time with your stamp? Have you mastered the art of checking your work, or do your eyes glide over the error because you are scanning rapidly? Do you decline the absurd requests to arrive at a long past time. Don’t laugh; I’ve actually had some schedulers insisting that the scheduled appointment time remain in the past! Is personal best your routine effort? Have you recently reread your governing laws? Do you challenge yourself with semi-impossible situations to devise a practical and legal solution? Perhaps the worst possible situation is considering yourself incapable of improvement.

Let’s move past looking good and doing good. Few seem to discuss how to discuss. O I know, the components of documents are definitions. But, it’s how you speak that plays a large part in the image you present. You are not expected to be a world class orator. You do need a bit of debating skill; and not be an annoying interrupter. Your spoken vocabulary immediately gives the impression of being educated or not. Inept communications often start with “I mean, like, the way it is, is like….” Uggh! Your clients listen to you, and most listen carefully. Do you listen carefully? If you are not positive of what is being asked, do you ask for clarification? You are not The Grand Imperial Notary; so don’t talk “at” or “to” your client; talk “with” them. Converse.

I have been in tense, almost hostile situations. You can diffuse the animosity by being sincere. Being you is the most important part of your image, and it should not be “forced” but allowed to flow naturally. Make the point that you genuinely want to help with your words and actions. And, also, that you are constrained by notary law in what you are permitted to do. You are in the wrong profession if you don’t like working with people, all people. Most of all be yourself. It takes but a few moments to thank, handshake, and wish them success in their endeavor.

An image is a complex thing. Sure, the old saw about first impressions is somewhat true. But, when they see that you are capable and dedicated; their image of you soars. Concentrate on the lasting impression that you leave by your words and skillful deeds.


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November 26, 2015

The Stolen Loan Package

Very rarely do we hear of loan packages getting stolen, but it does happen. One of my assistants was on the phone with a client who told her a horror story. Normally, we think that Fedex drop boxes are for dropping packages. However, if you read our blog article entitled, “Don’t Put the Fedex in the Drop Box” you will know better. Aparantly, the Notary put several packages in various drop boxes. Two made it where they were supposed to go while one got stolen. Someone got into one of the Fedex boxes and stole the contents. We heard that the combination for the drop boxes was the same for drop boxes in particular areas. I heard that after the theft happened, that unique combinations were created for all drop boxes on the same routes, etc. I cannot guarantee that I have my facts correct as this is all one big story I heard from someone — but, it’s an interesting and dramatic story.

Take your Fedexes to staffed locations if you value your career!

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November 17, 2015

Filling out your journal before the appointment?

One notary on Linked In wrote about filling in their journal before the appointment. Honestly, there is nothing illegal about this. However, if one of the parties doesn’t show up for the signing, you might have to do a lot of crossing out in your journal which might not look good if you ever get audited. I have not heard of notaries getting audited, but your state could raise its standards any time, so behave as it if could happen.

If you have limited time at a signing, you might be tempted to pre-fill the Acknowledgment forms and journal entries. It is illegal to stamp the certificates before the signer has signed your Notary journal and the document. However, putting the wording in is okay. The problem is that last minute changes do happen regularly. Signings can be postponed until the next day, and if you put the date in, or there is a last minute name variation change, you will not be able to use that form.

Personally, I feel that you should not fill in forms before or after the appointment. It is easier to make career-ruining mistakes if you divide these tasks into two sessions. You are more present at the signing (at least I am) and you should fill in the forms with the signer in front of you. As a Notary, saving a few minutes at the signing is not an important goal. Filling out these Notary certificate forms is generally very quick if you have experience. The main goal for signing agents should be to develop good practices which keep your error rate near zero.

So, my advice is — avoid the possibility of messy situations. Don’t preword your forms or journals. Do it at the time of the notarization. Be safe! You could call this a “Best Practice” or the avoidance of a “Non-Best Practice”

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November 16, 2015

Should travel fees be flat?

Should anything be flat in the world of pricing?

Any notary who has a flat travel fee doesn’t understand that their time is not for free. Sure it is easier to have a flat notary travel fee, but what if a job is scheduled during rush hour, or is far away? You’ll spend all day long for a small travel fee. Keep in mind that most notaries on 123notary are loan signing agents and don’t do non-loan mobile notary work. However, if you want to do regular mobile notary work, there is cash to be made. No waiting for companies to send you checks, no invoicing, no fax backs, and no excuses!

It is easier when you have a flat travel fee for the first 20 miles, or some type of a radius. You could shorten the distance during rush hour to be more fair to yourself if you like. Or just keep it simple. I used to charge $35 travel fee and people would pay it. I learned that others would charge $50 and get it. Customers were desperate and would pay anything if you would just get there and do the job right away.

But, for longer commutes, many notaries don’t have a formula. Some have a mileage rate they stick to. Others just don’t have a plan. Mileage rates are good for highway driving, but not for in-town jobs. 30 miles in an urban area can easily take over an hour and wear down your brakes, while 50 miles on the highway can go by quickly.

In my opinion it’s easier to charge based on estimated time. Your formula will be complicated if you have separate rates based on how many miles, and then compensate if they are in a metro or on the highway, and then another adjustment if it is during rush hour. It is easier to say that the driving will take 75 minutes total for the round trip and that you will charge $50 for that. Your rates are up to you, but this is my suggestion.

Charge a fixed fee for the first 45 minutes of travel for your round trip.
Then charge extra for every additional estimated minute.
If you estimate wrong, then as my mechanic friends say, “eat it” meaning take the loss gracefully.

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November 13, 2015

Best Virtual Notary Comedy Compilation

Here are some of our more popular comedy themes other than sit-coms which is on another post!

Welcome to the Notary Hotel
Some Notaries stay here their entire commission!

New Notary Apps for the iPhone 7 you’ve never dreamed of!

Affiant – a social media site for Notaries

Notary Suicide Hotline

Tony Soprano Gets Notarized

Vampire Notaries — 24 hour service

Notary Ambulance

Notary Hell — Yeah, but it’s a dry heat!

Notary Hotel 2 – the Sequel

The Towles Booth



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