February 2016 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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February 28, 2016

More on Snapdocs, the Uber of the Notary industry!

Snapdocs really impresses me. They are new, successful, popular, yet everybody I know is complaining bitterly about them. It’s like Uber. You either love’em or hate’em. I was reading a Notary Rotary post where two reps from Snapdocs answered questions. Wow! Such good service! So, below are my comments on Snapdocs.

1. Snapdocs does cattle calls.
This is an automated feature that is convenient for the Title company, but a pain for the Notary. If you answer a cattle call after more than a few minutes have gone by, the job will probably have been filled.

2. Offers are generally low
Offers from Snapdocs are usually not very well paying. On the other hand, this makes it a great opportunity for newer Notaries to put some notches on their belt. I always tell newbies to work for cheap until they have proven themselves with a few thousand signings.

3. Are they scaring away seasoned Notaries?
One Notary on Notary Rotary’s form claimed that Snapdocs was scaring away seasoned Notaries. In my opinion, a system that is optimized for price and convenience is not suitable for an experienced and higher priced Notary. I just hope the good Notaries don’t get put out of business with all of the low fees that have become the norm in today’s Notary industry.

4. But, can you negotiate prices?
Yes. You can respond to emails and make a counter offer. If someone offers you $55, you can say, $155 — take it or leave it. Do you want experience and credentials or do you want to take your chances? In my opinion, Notaries do too much self-pitying and not enough negotiating. Give those signing and title companies a run for their money. Ask for what you’re worth. Our veteran Notary Ken always makes counter offers and demands up front payment on Paypal and usually gets it too!

5. Snapdocs eliminates the middle-man (or woman)
Signing Agents have been dreaming for years of a time when signing companies (who they perceive as being worthless) are weeded out of the situation. Well, now they have been weeded out in this playing field — but, prices are still dismally low. So, the Notaries still lose. But, in my opinion, a Notary who gets paid well earns that pay with merit which includes rich experience, multiple certifications, good marketing skills and businesslike communication habits.

6. Does Snapdocs let Title blacklist the Notaries?
Not exactly. But, feedback about the quality of the work done can affect the Notary’s ranking on this site.

7. Is Snapdocs better than the Notary directories?
In my opinion, Notary directories offer a better quality Notary than Snapdocs, and also offer more in depth information about the Notary.

8. Snapdocs will not help the Notary get paid.
Snapdocs operates for the benefit of the signing service,not the Notary. On the other hand, they don’t charge the Notary. If you don’t get paid, that is your problem. If they did guarantee payment, there would be expenses associated with that which would cut your fee down by 5-15% based on how other similiar models work on popular freelancer sites on the internet.

You might also like:

Has anyone used snapdocs?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15831

Snapdocs, good for the notary or the signing service?
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6744

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February 27, 2016

The Compliance Agreement

The Compliance Agreement
This document is often part of a loan package. While not notarized, “The undersigned hereby agrees to cooperate”. This cooperation includes working with both the lender and the Escrow or “Closing Agent” to facilitate “reasonable requests”. This cooperation is subsequent to the closing, on an “if necessary” basis. Said cooperation includes providing any and all documentation “deemed necessary or desirable”. It is very open ended with an enforcement clause, to be discussed later in this installment.

The affiants to this agreement, often both the buyer and the seller, are obligated to assist, as “necessary”, to complete the transaction. This completion can include verbiage to include the marketability of the loan and/or securing title insurance. They may be requested (really required) to re-execute documents or sign additional documents. They may also be asked to provide previously “not relevant or considered” documents, to facilitate the closing.

Score one for stating the obvious. While researching this blog, one of the compliance agreement documents specifically stated: The sellers are not required to perform duties and responsibilities of the buyer, and the reverse is also understood. As mentioned the responsibilities of the affiants is a bit open ended. They are both required to not only facilitate requests “deemed necessary” but also those “desirable”. An up to date appraisal would certainly be desirable, but it’s not clearly spelled out who would be required to pay if this was requested. Similarly, it’s not clear who would be responsible for expenses to make the loan “insurable”.

While this document is usually a single page; the issues are rather complex. There are four parties involved: The Lender, the Title Co., the Borrower, and the Seller. It’s easy to visualize conflicts developing. The “enforcement arm” is frequently in the last paragraph. This section includes for recovery of all expenses, and lawyer fees, by the winning party if it is adjudicated.

Thus failure to comply with an “it’s desirable” request (demand?) from Title, might result in Title obtaining the item and billing the, for example; seller. Additionally the seller would, if they contest the cost, and lose; have to pay the attorney fees of the Title Company. Quite a lot of responsibility is included on that one little page. Few bother to read it. It’s generally explained (not by the Notary!) as agreeing to resign a lost document; but it really comprises much more.

I often wondered why such a “strong” document is rarely if ever notarized. Perhaps the public perception of notarized documents being “binding” and others “contestable” is in play. Whatever the reason, all affiants should be aware of the broad scope of the Compliance Agreement. It’s more than just allowing clerical errors to be corrected, much more. I have heard it explained away as only allowing for the correction of typographical errors. “If we put the comma in the wrong place and say you only pay fifty cents a month, not five hundred a month; we are allowed to correct that typo”. Yes, it’s that; but also much more.

How does this apply to the notary? From my prospective the issues are so broad, vague and potentially of great economic effect – I would not attempt to “explain” it; not a bit. If asked a question related to the Compliance Agreement, for me it’s an immediate call to the Loan Officer.

You might also like:

The 30 point course lesson on the Compliance Agreement
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14335

A comprehensive guide to Deeds
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16285

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February 26, 2016

February 24, 2016

Notarizing John W. Smith

Recently, I have been calling many notaries over the phone and asking them Notary questions. The Notaries on 123notary typically are fairly strong about signing agent knowledge, but weak on basic Notary skills. Many Notaries are unaware that you cannot Notarize someone unless you personally know them (allowed in some states) or can prove their identity based on satisfactory evidence. The state laws do not always give case studies of tricky cases as the states don’t make it their business to make sure Notaries are understanding or obeying the law.

The example I give is:

You are asked to Notarize a person whose ID says John Smith. The document says John W Smith. Do you Notarize based on the name on the ID, the document, or cancel the signing.

The types of answers I get are.
(1) You always notarize based on the name on the document because that is the name on title.
Commentary: Unfortunately, the Lender won’t be able to sell the loan if the name notarized doesn’t match the name on the document. However, your commission can be revoked if you get caught notarizing signers based on names not documented in their identification. If the ID says John Smith, you cannot notarize a longer name variation in any state that we have heard of.

(2) Get a 2nd ID.
Yes, in real life, you would ask for another ID or perhaps try to get some credible witnesses if your state will allow for that. However, in our question , it is multiple choice, and asking for a passport is not one of the choices. This error falls more in the category of listening and following directions which is crticial in any profession.

(3) You can notarize a name that is matching or shorter than the name on the document.
Commentary: WRONG. You got the right rule, but in reverse! You can notarize a name that is matching or shorter than the name on the ID — NOT the document. If the name on the document is longer than the name on the ID, then you have not identified the signer as the person named in the document.

On a more humorous note. I think it would be funny if one of the Notaries I called was named John Smith. On the other hand, we have a customer named Pocahontas. She’ll probably laugh when we talk about Notarizing John Smith. But, don’t worry, OUR Pocahontas is over 12 years old — or at least that’s what her ID says!

You might also like:

The man who wouldn’t use his middle initial
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4040

Hospital signing issues
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20913

How would you notarize a document with no signature line?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20890

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February 23, 2016

The Closing Disclosure

Notaries have become moderately familiar with the new Closing Disclosure. I want to stress some important points about this document that you should memorize. I also added this content to the 30 point course for future reference!

1. The Closing Estimate
Previously there was a document called the Good Faith Estimate whose current replacement would be the Closing Estimate. Although these two documents are not even close to being identical, they go over the estimated costs of the loan among other information.

2. The Truth in Lending
This is now an antiquated document. The Truth in Lending had some bizarre and unhelpful verbiage about the prepayment penalty. It said you, “will, won’t or may” have a prepayment penalty. The Closing Disclosure states if you will or won’t but omits the ambiguous word, “may” from the document.

3. The APR
In addition to going over the APR, there will be a new figure discussed on the Closing disclosure called the TIP which is the total interest percentage.

4. Taxes, Insurance, Escrow Fees
Estimated escrow costs, insurance, taxes, servicing, assumption, and appraisal costs will also be covered in this new and exciting document.

5. The property address
Many loan signing courses claim you should look for the property address on the Deed of Trust or Mortgage. You can, but it is also on the Closing Disclosure on the upper left corner.

6. The Loan Amount & Rate
This is also covered on the upper half of page one.

7. Fees associated with the loan
The Closing Disclosure replaces the TIL and the HUD-1 Settlement Statement. So, items from the Settlement Statement such as fees or costs associated with the loan will be covered on this document.

8. Calculating Cash to Close
This is a very practical section that covers total closing costs, closing costs financeed, down payment, deposit, funds for borrower, seller credits, and adjustments. The bottom line in this section is the cash to close total amount.

9. Summary of Transactions
The sale price of the property, closing costs, HOA dues, deposits, loan amount, sellers credit, rebates, and local taxes are all part of the accounting spreadsheet in this section.

10. The additional information section about the loan
This section covers other specifications about the loan such as whether or not assumption is allowed, if there is a demand feature, negative amortization, late payments, partial payments, escrow accounts, and more…

11. Next, there is a basic loan calculation similar to what the TIL had with the total payments, finance charge, amount financed, APR, and the new figure which is the TIP.

12. There is a section listing other disclosures which will list the appraisal, contract details, liability after foreclosure (keeping it positive), refinance, and tax deductions.

13. And last there is contact information of the Lender, the Real Estate Brokers, and the Settlement Agents.

Sign below.

——————————————— ———-
Applicant Signature Date

Eventually I will create some test questions out of this material. I already have one, but I will derive some others as well.

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You might also like:

Ken’s tips for the Closing Disclosure
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=17116

The 30 point course’s guide to the Closing Disclosure
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14291

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February 15, 2016

If you contact Title companies directly, what do they want?

Notaries don’t always know what to furnish a company with. They approach us by emailing their E&O, and all sorts of stuff we don’t want. I used to contact Title companies and here is what they most commonly want.

A Rate Sheet
If you have a quick flyer with your rates, areas you cover, and quick notes on your experience, types of loans you know how to sign, and your contact info, that will go over well.

Speak with Confidence
Don’t be afraid of Title companies. They aren’t monsters. They are just monstrously busy and they escape from their busy prison like bats out of hell at the end of the day. It is difficult to get the same rep twice as they are always busy and will only treat you like a priority if they actually need you or if they are really bored.

Have at least 1000 Signings
I would recommend getting your basic experience working for the signing companies who you dislike the most. Yes, the low-ballers with the fax backs and annoying micromanaging techniques. At 123notary, we quiz Notaries over the phone and the ones with less than 5000 signings normally are not so informed about basic loan signing techniques and facts. I would recommend waiting until you have at least one or two thousand signings and two or three official certifications from different agencies before calling the Title companies directly.

Notaries Bearing Gifts
Old school Notaries often bring donuts, bagels, and small gifts. To stick positively in someone’s mind, small gifts help. If you want to get exotic and give Chinese moon cakes, Arabic baklava, or Indian kulfi, that is good too assuming your gifts are appreciated.

What do they Really Want?
Girls just want to have fun
Title company reps just want to go home.
I’m going to sleep now.
Good night!

You might also like:

Everything you need to know about writing a great notes section
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16074

I just got two jobs & they found me on 123notary. What now?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15857

He took Jeremy’s advice and got new title companies
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=22277

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February 8, 2016

Snapdocs, this is what we’ve learned about their Notaries

I recently visited Snapdocs to see how good their Notaries are. I called a dozen or so to sort of dip my toe in the water so to speak. Here are some quick facts based on my experience:

1. Snapdocs mostly brand new Notaries. New Notaries are often very enthusiastic and excited about learning.

2. The # of signings listed on Snapdocs is not an accurate number. It reflects how many loans were signed through their affiliation with Snapdocs and not in total.

3. Many of the numbers I called on Snapdocs were disconnected

4. Many of the Notaries on Snapdocs do not answer their phone.

5. Most of the Notaries on Snapdocs are not listed on other Notary directories which is refreshing.

6. Information on profiles on Snapdocs is very limited

7. Snapdocs has a very good document downloading system and we’ve heard they have a good loan assignment dispatch system as well.

8. Snapdocs is very popular and has thousands of Notaries on their site which is unusual for such a new notary directory (except for the new directories that copied all of our listings and then went out of business.)

I don’t know if I would recommend for or against Snapdocs, but they are the only Notary directory that has caught on since 123notary became popular in 2002 — and that is exciting! Let’s see where their newly found success takes them.

You might also like:

More on Snapdocs, the Uber of the Notary industry
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16236

Has anyone used Snapdocs?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15831

State of the Notary Industry Union Address
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16244

October Signing Company Gossip
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15327

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February 1, 2016

Everything you need to know about writing a great notes section

Most Notaries underestimate how critical it is to have an amazing notes section on your listing on 123notary.com. They just write how they are background screened and have E&O insurance. They stop there. Yes, this is important information and it can be a deal breaker if you don’t have the right background screening from the right agency, etc. However, the Notaries who get lots of work from 123notary tend to have 123notary certifications, reviews from satisfied clients and a very thorough notes section. So, what is the secret? The secret is to be specific, unique and well organized in what you write about yourself.

(1) Selling Features
The top of your notes section should stress selling features. What can you say about yourself that others might not be able to say that would make someone want to hire you. “I’m reliable.” Everyone claims to be reliable, and then they show up late making a mockery out of their claim. Try something that you can put your finger on. But, I really am reliable? Yes, but your notes section can’t prove it — so skip it. Instead, let’s think about what types of loans you know how to sign. Don’t just say, “all types.” List them one by one. Do you have some unusual qualifications? Were you Notary of the year? Do you do jail or hospital signings? Are you fluent in Uzbekistani hill dialects? These are things that help you stand out. Were you a CEO of a Mortgage company? That helps too. If you have Escrow, Title, Underwriting, Processing, Settlement, or general Mortgage experience, that is a huge plus on your notes section. Make sure to indicate that high in your notes. Remember — the first 200 characters of your notes show up on the search results for your area, so digress to impress! (actually don’t digress, but use that space to squeeze in as many selling features as possible)

(2) Specialties
One of the most valuable pieces of information you can include in your notes are your specialties. Instead of bragging about how you are error-free or dependable (which nobody wants to read,) instead list the types of loans you know how to sign, types of major documents or procedures you are familiar with. Do you go to airports, offices, or jails? Do you do Weddings or Apostilles? People are very impressed when you have highly specialized skills, so mention them.

(3) # of loans signed
Most Notaries up date the # of loans signed once in four years. When I mention that their profile says they signed 200 loans, they say, “Oh, that was five years ago. I must have forgotten to login — I’ll go in there.” You need to “go in there” and update your info every few months or you will have information that is collecting cyber-dust.

(4) What is hot and what is not?
Radiuses are hot. If you have a wide radius, tell the world. 100 mile radius shows you are serious (or crazy.) Last minute signings are a good thing to mention. Do you accept faxes or are willing to do fax backs? That narrows it down. Are you background screened? Is it by NNA or Sterling or someone else — if you’re screened by the wrong agency, you don’t get the job! Do you know how to do eSignings? That will make you stand out!

(5) Professional memberships and certifications
Are you NNA Certified, Notary2Pro certified, 123notary certified, or trained by some other agency. It is impressive especially if you have four or five certifications. Mention these as well as your memberships. But, please don’t say you are an NNA member in good standing. The only way to be in bad standing with any agency is by not paying your bills or perhaps being convicted of a felony.

(6) What is unique about your service?
Is there something unique about the way you do your work? Or do you have a catchy unique phrase about yourself? It is very hard for most people to think of anything unique about themselves. But, if you really put some thought into it over an extended period of time you might come up with something good. We have two blog articles below with some of the best unique information we’ve ever seen.

(7) Avoid vagueness
Did you work for 10 years in the legal industry? What does this mean? Were you the company president or did you mop the floor for an Attorney. State your job title or what you did very clearly. If you were a legal secretary of Paralegal, that is good to know. Not a selling feature. Additionally, try to be specific about your claims. Rather than saying how good you are with people, give a concrete example of how you are good with people, or what experience you have that proves you are good with people.

Also read:
General (vague) vs. specific information in your notes section
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4602

(8) Avoid restating information
Many Notaries restate their company name, their company mission, phone and email in your notes. Your notes is to give additional information about your service, and not to restate what the reader already knows. Remember, those top 200 characters go in the search results, and if you say, “We are here to serve” nobody will click on you.

(9) Counties served
There are 12 boxes where you can indicate your counties served. If you wish to restate this info in your notes, put it near the bottom as this is not a selling feature. If you want to indicate which parts of which counties you serve, the notes section is the only place to go into such detail. Others choose to mention specific towns or cities served. Please avoid stating which zip codes you go to as that is too nit-picky.

(10) Writing about your mentor
New Notaries always want to bend my ear about how they don’t have experience, but their mentor has signed 10,000 loans and they have been to many signings with their mentor. After hearing ten minutes about their mentor I say, “I’ll hire him — I’m convinced — But, I wouldn’t hire you in a million years because you don’t stand on your two feet!” Don’t talk about your mentor. Talk about what training programs you have passed.

(11) Writing about your Real Estate background
Notaries regularly write, “I am a Realtor and therefor am familiar with the documents.” But, when I quiz them on the documents they fail almost every time. Also, many Notaries will write three paragraphs about their Real Estate business or Process Serving, etc. People are coming to 123notary to find a great Notary, not a Real Estate agent. If you want to quickly mention in the middle of your notes that you are a Realtor, that is fine, but don’t make it the central point of your notes.

(12) Educational background
If you want to write about your degrees or former professional experience, unless it is Mortgage related, it should go in the middle or lower middle part of the notes as it is not critical information in the eyes of the reader.

(13) Equipment
Yes, you can write about your equipment. Sometimes we recommend using bullet points for quick points such as E&O, certifications, and equipment. You can mention what type of printer, scanner, fax, or mobile office you have. Just don’t put this up top. It belongs in the middle or lower middle of your notes.

(14) Closing statements
Some Notaries choose to have a closing statement while others don’t. We like it when Notaries do. You can say, “Thanks for visiting my listing.” Or say something a little more unique.

(15) Don’t jumble everything in one paragraph
A good notes section is divided into several logical sections. We normally like to see an intro with selling features, an about you paragraph, some bullet points, and a closing statement. There are many formats for winning notes section and you can decide what is best for you.

(16) Ask for help
123notary gives free notes makeovers. However, we cannot write the content for you. We can filter and reorganize it though. When we redo people’s notes sections they average an increase of 55% more clicks per day to their listing. So, ask! And get some reviews on your listing while you’re at it!

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Other Great Notes Articles

How to write a notes section if you have no experience
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4173

10 quick changes to your notes that can double your calls
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4499

What goes where in your notes?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1076

2014 excerpts from great notes sections
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=13613

Unique phrases from people’s notes sections
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14690

Stating the obvious in your notes section
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14146

A Notary included a copy of her testimonial in her notes
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4680

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