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

Notary Blog – Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice – 123notary.com Control Panel

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.

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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.

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February 26, 2016

February 25, 2016

At 123notary – We don’t look good unless you look good

Filed under: Marketing Articles — Tags: , , — admin @ 6:04 am

Notaries don’t understand why we care so much about their notes section and their reviews. The reason is that we don’t look good unless you look good. Imagine if every Notary on 123notary had a few reviews, and a stunning notes section with unique information on it. 123notary would be a lot more popular than it is. In reality, the higher level people on 123notary do typically have reviews and good notes sections. However, the lower level people on our directory have what I like to call, “incomplete looking” listings.

A few months ago, we reorganized the notes sections of about 2000 members. I was expecting complaints, but luckily for me I got dozens of praises and not a single complaint after I announced my work in the newsletter. Our site gained about 5% in traffic after I did my work. The bottom line is the people who use 123notary will use it more if Notaries write nice notes sections. Additionally, after I fix up people’s notes sections (which I do for free) they typically get about 50% more clicks to their listings. It takes me only a minute or two — three at most, but the results are amazing.

So, why are Notaries not requesting my free help with their notes section? Why do they not realize that reviews are life and death? Why do Notaries drag their heels about getting certified by 123notary which is also life or death for their profile? The answer is priorities. The minute a Notary “emotionally” understands how critical dressing up their listing is, they will typically take action. The Notaries who don’t take action either don’t care that much about their listing or make a priority of other taks that pay them a small fee.

In other notary blog entries, I showed how studying for their certiication test could be worth a few thousand dollars per hour. The Notaries always claimed that they “didn’t have time.” They do have time, but they prefer to make $30 per hour in short term gains at the expense of $3000 per hour in residual long term gains. If I have a million dollars in my right hand and ten dollars in my left hand, the vast majority of Notaries will ask me to give them what I have in my left hand. I don’t get it, but this is how they think — they think small. Large possibilities don’t exist in their consciousness for the most part.

Additionally, old reviews look bad. I wrote a blog entry about how people with old reviews complained they were not getting the business. The answer is that they used to be hustling, and then they stopped trying — and it shows. You have to ask for reviews to get them. If you stop trying, you won’t get any. Then there are others who got three reviews on Dec 1st, 2012, and then another three on Sept 1st, 2015. It looks horrible and tacky. Reviews should be spaced out to look organic and real.

So, what can you do? Take a look at your notes section. See if there is more that you can add. Talk about the types of loans you know how to sign, memberships, certifications, background screening, special designations, what is unique about your service, and more. See what other Notaries are writing about. Creating a great notes section is not rocket science and we are here to help for free. And when in doubt, ask for help! info@123notary.com


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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!

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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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Ken’s tips for the Closing Disclosure

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February 19, 2016

The 2016 Notary Public Debate

Filed under: Virtual Comedy Themes — Tags: , , , — admin @ 9:34 am

MODERATOR: Welcome to the 2016 Notary Public Debate. The top potential candidates are represented tonight, who also happen to be the top Republican candidates running for President. First, welcome Donald Trump.

DONALD: We never win anymore. I want to make Notaries great again. 123, I’ll make them great again. And by the way, 123Notary.com is fantastic. They love me. I’m gonna build a firewall. And I’m gonna make Mexico pay for it. And by the way, I was gonna just say “wall” instead of “firewall,” but if I can’t add the word, “fire,” as in “You’re fired,” who can? Anybody who illegally signs a document will have to leave the country. I don’t care if they were born here. They’ll still have to leave.

MODERATOR: Dr. Carson?

BEN CARSON: As a neurosurgeon, I’ve had lots of experience signing things. Prescriptions that nobody can read. Death certificates, but let’s not talk about that. And I’m great with civil actions, because my gentle demeanor sounds so civil. Except for that time when I was a kid and tried to stab somebody before his belt buckle got in the way.

MODERATOR: Senator Cruz, your response?

TED CRUZ: I’d be happy to take “a stab” at it. The American people deserve a Notary who knows how to protect the American people. Who understands the contents of a document. Who’s aware of the consequences of executing the document by signing it. And I’ll execute anything that gets in my way, like ISIS, as long as they show me their ISIS I.D. And I promise you that on day one, I will make sure that no signer was coerced into signing a document, just coerced into hearing me drone on like I’ve been doing here tonight.

MODERATOR: Senator Rubio?

MARCO RUBIO: I’m young. It’s time to turn the page. It’s time to sign the page according to the conditions and terms of the document. It’s time to remind people for the 400,000th time that I’m an immigrant. My parents were immigrants. They didn’t have notaries in Cuba. They came to this country, to seek out a better signature. If I’m your Notary, I’ll promise you that I’ll be there for all the tough decisions. Like when to use “certified copy” and when to use “attested copy”. Those are two different things.

DONALD TRUMP: Inspirational, Marco. No wonder I’m killing you in the polls.

MODERATOR: Governor Bush?

JEB BUSH: There’s a reason there’s an exclamation point after “Jeb” on my campaign literature. It’s because I’m exciting enough to be a Notary. Look, we need a Notary who gets things done. And Trump isn’t a serious candidate. You can’t make people who were born here leave.

DONALD TRUMP: Watch me. Leave, that is. You’re so boring, I’m about to.

JEB BUSH: I know the name of a document that modifies the terms of a will. Do you, Donald?

DONALD TRUMP: I’ll hire the best people who’ll tell me all that. That’s what I do. I build. Buildings. Teams. I’ve got high energy.

JEB BUSH: It’s “codicil”.

DONALD TRUMP: Poor Jeb. His energy is so low, he should be charged with malfeasance just for pretending to have a personality. “Malfeasance.” Look it up.

MODERATOR: Mr. Trump, it’s not your turn.

DONALD TRUMP: The American people disagree with you. Look at the polls.

MODERATOR: Governor Christy?

CHRIS CHRISTY: Everyone on this stage talk a good game. But I walk the walk.

DONALD TRUMP: You mean “waddle.”


CHRIS CHRISTY: As a governor, I make executive decisions. And I was a prosecuting attorney. I understand the law behind coercion and making somebody sign a document against their will.

DONALD TRUMP: What about closing a bridge against the people’s will?

CHRIS CHRISTY: What about that roadkill on your head? If I were you, I’d prosecute your barber.

MODERATOR: Ms. Fiorina?

CARLY FIORINA: I’m the only one here who headed up a major corporation like Hewlett Packard. When they fired me, they gave me a golden parachute, and I’ve been signing checks ever since. My checks. And I can bring that experience signing things to my role as a Notary Public. Plus I’m a woman. My life expectancy is longer than men, so I’ll be alive long enough to renew my seal.

DONALD TRUMP: My life expectancy just got longer. Or maybe it’s just that my life seems like it’s dragging on forever as I listen to Carly flap her gums.

MODERATOR: Senator Paul?

RAND PAUL: I’m the only credible conservative on the panel. Which makes me the only credible credible witness. I am uniquely equipped to positively identify a signer who lacks satisfactory identification documents. Like… you, Cruz.

TED CRUZ: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

RAND PAUL: You were born in Canada.

TED CRUZ: I think you’re out of bounds, Rand.

RAND PAUL: Don’t you mean “oot” of bounds?

MODERATOR: Governor Kasich?

JOHN KASICH: Look, people. We’re talking about running for Notary Public here. It’s not about arguing with each other! It’s about finding and nurturing the best Notary Publics on 123notary.com!

JEB BUSH: Say what you will about my brother. But I’m proud of this… 123 – he can count that high.


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February 17, 2016

If the lender has the Notary change a date on the Acknowledgment

I ask this question just to see if I can throw a curve ball at the Notaries.


If the Lender asks the Notary to change a date on the Acknowledgment, who initials the change? The Notary, the Signer, or both?

Common Answers

(1) That is illegal. I wouldn’t do it.
Commentary: It is illegal to falsify a date on a Notary certificate. But, if you change a date, you might be changing it from a wrong date to the correct date. “Oh, I didn’t think of that…” Besides, we are not asking you if it is legal to change the date, we are asking who initials.

(2) The borrower
Commentary: The borrower or signer has no business writing anything in the certificate section as that is the exclusive jurisdiction of the Notary. At this point the Notary being asked the question normally says, “Oh, I thought you meant the document.” If I meant the document, I would not have said the Acknowledgment.

(3) Both
Commentary: Only the Notary can touch the certificate section.

What about California
I have heard that in California you cannot fix a certificate. You have to notarize it all over again. Hmmm.


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February 16, 2016

(Almost) Arrested for Trespassing

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:26 pm

(Almost) Arrested for Trespassing
“I’m staying at the Fishbowl (name changed to protect me!) Hotel”. Let’s meet in the business center where there are tables and the coffee is great. I certainly know the Fishbowl; it’s one of the top hotels in Manhattan. Rooms cost really big bucks, security is ultra tight, and many government leaders are often present. There is always a police officer at the door, and many “guards” roaming the building. I have been there a few times, and was really looking forward to a cup of their superb coffee.

It was a routine edoc, my eyebrows went up a bit as I scanned the docs, hot off the printer. Wow, the numbers were that impressive. Once again I told myself that I was at the wrong end of this business, wishing to be a Loan Origination Officer. But, wishes don’t make reality. My routine fee had been via PayPal the prior night, and I was double determined that the docs go back shining of perfection. Not only would all be entered correctly; but the entries would be ultra neatly printed. As befitting the sums involved and the location; this would be my masterpiece.

The cop at the door gives me a brief glance, I don’t look too weird. To the reception desk I go and mention that I am meeting a guest, Mr. Fabrication; and that he is expecting me in the business center. Noting the FedEx envelop I am carrying; the Concierge offers to deliver it. I mention that I am a Notary Public and here to notarize the signature of Mr. Fabrication on several documents.

Asked for, I present my driver license and Notary commission card; did I mention that their security is really tight? They try to call the guest at the business center, but are unable to reach him. With a shrug of the shoulders, possibly because of my solid ID, I am directed to the elevator that goes to the business center. Super good coffee aroma greets me. The affiant, sipping a cup of coffee; spots me and beckons me over. He suggests I go to the urn and have a cup while he finds his driver license and reviews a last minute HUD. Coffee and little cakes are complimentary. I take one of each and proceed to the table. He shows me his ID and the process starts.

About midway we are approached by a walking mountain. Bullets would have bounced off of his bare chest, about 300 pounds of solid muscle; and undoubtedly carrying a sidearm. “Excuse me, which of you is Mr. Fabrication?” In the middle of a signature, the affiant replies, “that’s my name, is there a problem?” May I please see your room key, the walking mountain asks. “Well, I’m not actually a guest; we just stopped by to sign some papers”. Mr. Mountain speaks into his communication device, and asks that we stop whatever we are doing. Then he asks me who I am, if I am a guest; and what the paperwork is all about. I desperately tried to “wish away” the coffee and cake; overly conspicuous in front of me.

Reinforcements arrive, as if they were needed. Soon, I am perceived as the villain as I am in the Fishbowl to earn revenue. The terms “trespassing” and “unlawful entry” are mentioned. I’m starting to get scared. When asked “Why did you specifically pick this place to meet”, I produce an email from Mr. Fabrication. To his mortification it says that he is “staying at the Fishbowl, and to meet him at the business center”. Again they checked my credentials. They compare the “to” address to the “to” email address on my business card. Satisfied that I was “fooled” they said I, and only I was free to go. They retained the docs with my blessings, anything to get out of there in lieu of prison!

Forgoing a final sip of their great coffee, or my last nibble of cake; I departed. The signing was incomplete, but that hardly mattered because Mr. Mountain took possession of the docs. I did not argue or protest – not one tiny bit. Nor did I care why he wanted them. “Free to go” – words I will forever cherish. Yes, I did relay my “adventure” upstream. They were incredulous. I told them to call the Fishbowl and ask for security – and that I would not be going back there for a long, long – Very Long time.


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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!

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