The world doesn’t seem to respect Notaries or Signing Agents. We are just a formality, and a lowly paid worker who can be kept waiting, neglected, or in some cases not paid. Many Notaries who do loan signings go to the signing only to be kept waiting forever while the borrower reads every page and makes long calls to the Lender.
It is the Lender’s fault that borrowers don’t get the documents until the last minute. Borrowers could read the documents and find questions and errors ahead of time if they had 48 hours notice before the Notary shows up. If we lived in an ideal world, borrowers would be able to see their documents online and check them for issues. The Notary always arrives with a limited time frame and the borrower has to get through a package of 80 to 150 pages in an hour or so. They have never seen the documents and are under a lot of stress. It seems like a big con game where the Notary is the one whose feelings are not considered.
It is our job to babysit people while they read documents? What a waste of our time. If our signing agent profession was taken seriously, we wouldn’t be kept waiting while people read documents. Are $400 per hour Attorneys kept hostage while their client reads their briefs? Perhaps reading with a question and answer session, but not endless waiting time.
The basic problem is that it is too easy to become a Signing Agent, and therefor there are too many people doing it — and mostly people who don’t know what they are doing. That is why we are taken for granted and paid $50 while the Notary fee on the Closing Disclosure says $400. SnapDocs probably makes $15 on it too, which is 30% of what the Notary makes. What is the world coming to?
Just make sure the borrowers get to bed on time, and if there is an emergency, the numbers for the police, fire department and poison control are next to the phone taped to the wall. Oh, and feel free to have orange juice — it’s in the fridge!
Carmen and I both agreed on this. We both think that being “bilingual” is like being “certified.” Certified by whom? NNA certification? The standards are completely different from Notary2Pro or 123notary.com, so without knowing the agency who certified you it is meaningless to us. But, bilingual? Bilingual in what language? And how bilingual are you? Are you someone who took high school Spanish and can barely ask where the bathroom is or are you like Hector, a smooth Latino from Miami who is “single, bilingual, and ready to mingle?” Carmen and I were both WRONG — as hell.
I compared stats on 123notary.com. Overall, those who were “bilingual” got more clicks than those who were not, especially if they put that at the top of their notes section. But, in Southern Florida, being bilingual counts a lot more as the majority speaks Spanish. You can get by without English in Miami, but you won’t survive without daily Spanish. In most parts of the country you might get 10-20% more clicks by speaking Spanish, but in Southern Florida it can be up to double in many cases. But, how do the stats compare?
Those with 4 or more reviews who were bilingual in Southern Florida got 3.2 clicks per day while those who spoke Spanish and had 5 or more reviews only got 2.2. Of course the rest of their profiles and notes sections were not equal, so we are comparing apples to oranges, but the stats are very different.
Those with 2 or less reviews who were bilingual in Southern Florida got 2 clicks per day while those who spoke Spanish got 1.5 clicks per day.
So, what’s the deal with this buzz-word “Bilingual?” Why do people like it so much? It is vague, indescript, and leaves a lot to the imagination. So, Carmen and I agreed that we would test a lot more listings with the word Bilingual by putting the word at the top of their notes section and measure their stats over a month or two. Finally — Carmen and I agree on something!
My writer thinks that “Bilingual” has a more three-dimensional meaning and portrays the Notary as being multi-cultural, sophisticated, having international skills. So, maybe there is something to this bilingual thing.
We train our Notaries to ask for reviews from their clients. Individuals are easier to get a review from than a title company or signing company. But, what if you turned the tables? Let’s think outside the box for a moment.
Most companies deal with a bunch of whiny Notaries who may or may not do a good job, and might not be so easy to reach by phone. What if you were a pleasure to deal with, answer your phone professionally and …
What if you write a review on the forums about companies you like? Many Notaries do this, but perhaps people should spend more time praising the good companies rather than complaining about the bad ones? The point is that companies will notice you more if you are nice to them and give them good press. There are no guarantees in life except for death and taxes. However, you raise your chances of getting a review if you do the same for other deserving people, and entities.
My Next Notary Visit is Free
Those who interact frequently with the public have tales to tell. Often they are sorrowful tales of unfair and unjust situations. Sometimes they are stories of pure joy and selflessness, the stuff of legends. This installment deals with neither of the above, this is about: Weird and absurd.
My client is a regular, usually with investment documents. Always there is a check on the table next to the passport. I could use “personally known” but check the ID every time. Usually the documents are making money for my client. That’s a good thing. This visit was an exception. It was not a very dramatic purpose that needed notarization, but IMHO a rather foolish reason.
Not foolish because of anything my client did; it was the “system” working very hard to force the absurd to be notarized. The Pension Fund had made a mistake. They issued a check a bit too big. No biggie, it would be routine to respond with a repayment check. But, that was not what the fund insisted upon. They required that the refund TO them be accompanied by their document stating the purpose of the enclosed check. And, required that document to be notarized.
The overpayment my client received would just about buy dinner for two at a diner. My mobile notary fee was a bit greater than the overpayment. Thus client was paying more for me to notarize the “return fee manifest” than the actual repayment amount. “That’s the way they are, and it’s impossible to talk with them”, sayeth the client. It was a silly situation. Long time client was “taking it on the chin” – caught in bureaucracy by a Pension Fund – that made the initial mistake.
This was absurd. There were two checks on the table; the larger one was for me, the smaller one addressed to the Pension Fund. I decided to leave my check where it was; and just leave without it. “Come Back – you forgot this” – “that’s OK, I would not feel right about taking it”. But client went on to say that I earned my fee and insisted that I take my check, so I did.
It still did not feel right. So, upon returning home I sent an email to the effect that my next visit would be free. That was accepted. Why “later” but not “now” puzzled me. Perhaps the client was giving me some time to reflect and not just react to the situation. Whatever the reason, I did not push the issue and await the next visit, for free – as agreed.
Mobile notaries have both personal and business relationships at the same time. There is no personal relationship when I shop at Wal-Mart or EBay. But, what we do is different. We meet people face to face, and, if we are “fair and honest” – they sense it. That forms a bond. It’s not forced or phony; it’s based upon mutual respect.
So I will forfeit a fee. It’s not the first time; and it won’t be the last time. Once, at about 5AM a caller called me a “money grubbing notary”. That was a good thing because I, half awake; had quoted my minimum fee – ignoring the time or the inches of snow on my car. Each situation is different and we need to use both our brain and our heart when interacting with the public. Of course the guiding principles of applicable notary law are chief – over all other considerations.
“122 vicious Notary prisoners at Gitmo released by the Obama administration. They have returned to sign again. Just another terrible decision.”
I changed 122 to 123, and anyway the above was not a real tweet, but based on a real tweet which was:
“122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!”
Honestly, a tweet about a prisoner release from Guantanamo Bay should feature a release of 140 characters, not 123. But, then maybe 17 were bored to death (since they were Notaries) or water bored(ed) to death.
We learned from our sources (which were probably fake news) that the Notaries were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment including torture. One Notary claimed they were water boarded until they would backdate a signature. But, the water smeared the ink, so the notarization was voided anyway.
Another Notary went on a hunger strike until he could see Juana La Cubana who is in her nineties, but still alive and well in Cuba.
The others were Haitian refugees posing as Notaries who were detained there.
Notaries were routinely coerced into signing documents — and Acknowledgments were not the only thing they executed over there.
Now the Notaries are free and on the loose returning to the signing field. Some were found recruiting for ISIgnS speading extremist Notary propaganda. Others were found in Syria cutting off people’s middle initials from stolen passports. There were many forced Notarized conversions to Notary-ism. Anyone who disagrees with their radical interpretation of Notary Law would be forced to expire whether their commission had or had not.
In any case, how do you notarize people from Syria when most of their identification is known to be forged or stolen?
I had a dream. I was at the market and walked down the soda aisle. There were mostly 123 Cola and Nrootary Beer. It was like that for years. Then all of a sudden Snapple appeared. It was much more convenient than the other sodas. Even though 123 Cola was a better quality drink, you could get a six pack of Snapple and press a button and six different people in remote locations could drink a bottle (each of) that Snapple. So, each time I went to the market, there was less 123 Cola and less Nrootary Beer and more Snapple. So, I got afraid and wondered how much longer this would go on.
But, then 123 Cola added some new features to its cola and became more popular. One sip and automatic health for the next week. Wow! Some cola!
Then, I was flying in my old neighborhood in Massachusetts that I haven’t been to in over twenty-five years. I saw a cat and grabbed it and said, “Hello cat!” Suddenly I was at home, naked, and drinking 123 Cola. What does this dream mean? I’ll have to ask my psychic.
We all have to have multiple passwords these days. Passwords for credit cards, debit cards, AT&T accounts, 123notary, online accounts, online banking, etc. Some of us use the same password for each account. That is dangerous. You need security, but how, and how much?
If you have passwords for online dating, notary profiles, etc., those are not tired to your finances. Your Notary listing is not likely to be hacked unless you have an angry ex. We have had two hacking incidents on 123notary, both by ex-relationships or family members with grudges, and not from hackers in Russia, etc. Stop blaming the Russians, unless you just divorced your mail order Russian bride and she gets back at you by changing your phone number on your 123notary listing.
You could have the same passwords for non-critical sites. But, for banking and your email you need a solid password. You should ideally have at least eight digits with some letters, numbers, symbols, perhaps different cases, etc. Make it hard to hack. Actually, Gmail has gotten smart. If you login from a different IP address it doesn’t recognize, you have to get a text, or enter your mobile phone # for security. It is a lame extra step, but it could foil 99% of hacking attempts as the hacker probably doesn’t have you on speed dial if they live in Egypt (which is where I was hacked and then rescued by Google.)
Ayatollah Khomeini (only popular with his enthusiasts)
notary — not very unique on a notary site, but easy to remember
notary123 — you got it backwards, buddy
password — how original
There are several ground rules when it comes to negotiations.
1. The first offer rule
The person who makes the first offer will never get an optimal price. If you start the bidding first with a high price, you might just get declined without being given a chance. If you ask too little, you will miss out on more pay. If you let the other person make the offer, you will end up with more on average.
2. Whining ruins your image
Notaries are notorious for whining. “You only pay $70….. OHHHHHHH, why can’t you pay more?” Who needs this behavior? If you are such a great notary, you would have plenty of people offering you $125 to $150, and you would just hang up on these low-balling fools. But, if you whine like a baby, nobody will want to work with you even if you accept their pathetic offer. Most notaries are so bad, they are probably not even worth what the low-ballers offer them. Most notaries refuse to study to become fastidious professionals.
3. Take it or leave it
Sure, nobody likes fax backs, but don’t complain. You either accept the job or you don’t. If the signing has 300 pages per set of documents, don’t complain. You either say yes or no. When I do my billing, people always ask me, “What did I pay last year?”. My comment is that it doesn’t matter because last year is over, and that doesn’t effect what this year’s price will be. They want to waste my time looking something up for their emotional gratification which affects nothing. What a time waster. Don’t behave like this. If someone makes you an offer, you take it, leave it, or negotiate. If someone wants to politely negotiate with me instead of whining, they will get a lot farther. First of all I will value them more as a long term client. Second, I will know that they will behave professionally with the people who use my site — and I value that much more than how they treat me. Third, it is not a headache to deal with them. If I ask for $200, and you want to offer a polite counter offer, then go ahead. $100 would be rude because it is out of the ballpark. But, what about $150? Try it. I will probably say no, since my prices were computer generated using six inter-connected formulas. But, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
4. Getting companies to up their fee by $35 is possible
But, I know some very fancy notaries who are at the top of their game who get $50 companies to pay $85. These smooth operators get close-by jobs for $85 that are only a few minutes away. They have fast printers that print 45 pages per minute, so the double set of documents takes less than 10 minutes. They buy their toner or ink wholesale. They don’t whine — they PLAN, and they negotiate! So, in a little more than one hour, these seasoned Ninja Notaries get the call, print the documents, go to the job, get it signed, and get back home, and send the invoice. After expenses they probably made almost $70 per hour. Not bad! So, how do they do it?
5. How to impress the client
A seasoned notary will explain calmly how they are famous for doing clean-up jobs after notaries who didn’t know what they were doing ruined a loan. Why not start with a pro and get it done right the first time? How much did you say you offered again? $60? I understand that you are on a tight budget, but my minimum is $100. I can help you out for $85 today though, since I have a little more extra time than I normally do. Wouldn’t it be worth it to you to hire someone who has signed 4000 loans, and who is meticulous? I have state of the art machinery such as an HP 250,000 printer with quadruple trays, and I can explain all of the documents. Would you like to drill me and ask me a sampling of your hardest loan signing questions to see if I am up to your highest standards?
6. Ask them to ask you their toughest question
Most signing companies don’t ask notaries questions. They should. If you ask notaries questions, 90% fall on their face because they don’t have a clue what they are doing. So, if you do know what you are doing, tell the signing company to shop around, but to ask each of the notaries they talk to how they would explain the APR to a non-borrowing spouse. If you don’t get a good answer after 45 minutes, then call me back! No notary with fewer than 5000 signings can do a graceful job of answering this question even though it is ridiculously simple. It requires study, and most notaries are opposed to that idea!
7. Don’t say anything that sounds phony
Please notice that all of the points I made sound real. None of this, “I’m professional and accurate and do error-free signings.” That sounds phony. Make real selling points because you are selling yourself to people who have been in this business for years and have dealt with thousands of notaries — most of them bad ones at that. Figure out what to say that proves that you are the logical choice to hire, even at an inflated rate. After all, the extra pay translates into less aggravation after the fact. How much aggravation and potential re-drawing fees is the $20 savings worth to you anyway, you tell me?
8. Having a pricing formula sounds impressive
If you don’t like to negotiate, but like to use pricing formulas, that will make you look good. People who understand distances, time involved and other expenses are true professionals who know their business inside out. You might not always get the highest possible fee with formulas, but you will get respect and repeat business.
9. Negotiation points summarized:
I do clean-ups for other notaries who make mistakes; 5000 loans signed; ask me your hardest loan signing question and then ask the other notaries who you are calling; I have an HP (name) printer that prints 45 pages per minute. I have a mobile office — beat that. I’m ready now — let’s do this! All work guaranteed or your money back!
Most Notaries don’t have a plan or a mentor. To get ahead in business you have to know what you are going to do in a step by step kind of way.
I can tell by the way a Notary fills out his/her Notary profile on 123notary how thorough they are. The put together types get it together perfectly before I see it. Then there are others who had a problem with a password who get it together fast and ask for help on their own.
Unfortunately, there are many Notaries who write their phone number as 9493333333. This is not easy to read, and is a sign of thoughtlessness. I know they won’t do well. But, I don’t say anything! People leave their hours of operation blank as well as their number of loans signed. Whenever I ask how many loans they signed they tell me a long story about how they work at a bank. I don’t want to know about the bank, or how many years — I want to know how many loans. The inability to answer a question is a sign of not being mentally focused.
You need to be methodical and meticulous to be a good Notary, but you don’t need to be smart. I know some very mentally ungifted people who did well in life simply because they lived their life according to a check list and did everything the correct way and on time. Originality is completely unnecessary as well — I didn’t think of this phrase on my own, I found it in someone else’s blog (proves my point.)
You fill in your Notary profile the same way you should plan your business — step by step and leave no turn unstoned! Here is what you need to do to promote your business.
1. Get a mentor. Talk to them from time to time. You should repay them generously if they are any good. Carmen gives great phone help by the way and out of the goodness of her heart. That is good Notary karma!
2. Make a list of all of the signing and title companies to sign up with. You need to contact them each once a month after the fact to remind them that you have a pulse and a seal and know how to use the latter.
3. Contact the local convelescent homes and hospitals and give them your information.
4. Advertise on the big web directories. Starting your own website or Facebook profile for business is rarely a good marketing tactic and a huge waste of time (which is your greatest resource.) You need to fill in your profiles completely and get reviews and certifications as well. A well written notes section is the exception to the rule, but for successful Notaries, it is the rule. LinkedIn might be a place to build a profile although I would not invest more than one hour per week on social media unless you run a nationwide business like we do. I spend 15 hours a week on social media average between writing blogs, creating my Facebook posts, Twitter, and more.
5. Study and pass three or more Notary certification tests. Knowledge is king as most Notaries are horribly deficient in their Notary and signing knowledge. You can’t get ahead if you haven’t mastered your materials.
The logic behind being a good Notary is the same as what your teachers taught you back in Junior High. Don’t try to skip steps, have a plan, and be methodical about executing your plan. It is not rocket science. Being smart will not get you ahead. But, being an anal, meticulous, methodical person who plays by the book are the traits that a good Notary should have. Are you in good hands?
If you got off to a bad start in the Notary biz, just remember two things.
1. You can turn your failure around. (You can also turn your success around if you get lazy.)
First understand that this is important is because interest is a line item on the closing statement and without fail, questions comes up during a loan signing about interest. In my Loan Signing System course, the closing statement is the first document you should review with the borrower so you should be sure to understand this concept.
Once again, To make interest easier to understand let’s talk about the difference of renting and paying a mortgage. When you rent, you pay on the 1st and the covers you for the next 30 days. You’re paying those 30 days in advance. Essentially you pay rent and you are good for the next 30 days.
A mortgage is different. You pay in what is called, arrears. Meaning when you pay on the first of the month, you are actually paying for the previous 30 days that you lived in the home. Essentially you live for the 30 Days then pay for the 30 days behind you. Hence why it is called arrears.
So, let’s say you paid your september mortgage payment, you are actually paying for the month of August. And That is where it can be a little confusing for a borrower because most borrowers don’t know that.
Remember when your explaining it, when you rent, you pay for the 30 days in advance. When you have a mortgage you pay for 30 days in arrears.
So why is this is important to understand as notary loan signing agent? Because when you go over the closing statement with the borrower, they almost always will have a question on the interest they owe their current lender they are paying off.
Frequently, If the payoff says that the borrower owes interest for October 1st to October 16th, a lot of borrowers will gawk and tell you they made their October payment and the closing statement is wrong.
Remember, the first part of this video since their October 1st payment is paid in arrears, they’ve paid interest for September, NOT for October. So they still need to pay owe to the current lender for October that hasn’t yet been paid.
And since the closing statement does not say they owe interest from September 1st to October 16th, you know that escrow has accounted for their October payment being made because there is no september’s interest showing on the closing statement.
On that same vein, if you see that the closing statement says interest they owe on their payoff from September 1st to October 16th, you should be able to come to the conclusion that have not made their October payment.
But now, let’s talk about interest on the new loan.
Regardless if it is a purchase or refinance, there will be interest that is being collected on the new loan on the closing statement.
Now that you understand that interest is paid in arrears, this should be easier to understand. Using the same dates above, if the new loan is going to close on October 16th, the borrower will have to pay interest from October 17th to October 31st. At closing is the only time the borrower will pay interest in advance. The reason this occurs is because the lender does not want to collect a partial payment in arrears on November 1st.
That’s why the first payment is a month out and this example it would be December because that is the first opportunity to get one full month in arrears. Remember that the December 1st payment is for all of November.
If they collect a November 1st payment, it would only be for October 17th to October 31st. They don’t want that. Therefore, they have the borrower pay the October interest upfront and set their first payment date for December 1st.
So, if you see that the lender is collecting interest for October 17th to the 31st on the closing statement, you should be able to conclude that their first payment is December 1st.
sometimes when you go over a closing statement you will notice overlapping interest on the closing statement. Let’s say you see interest being collected on the old loan for October 1st to October 17th and interest on the new loan being collected from October 15th to October 31st. The borrower may ask why they are paying double interest on the overlapping days.
They are not. The escrow company has to estimate the closing date of escrow. So in order to not be short interest (for the payoff or the new loan), they show overlapping interest.
When the loan closes, the dates will match up perfectly and the borrower will get returned any unneeded interest directly from escrow.
Lastly, sometimes the borrower knows that the loan is suppose to close on the 15th. But yet the closing statement shows interest to the 18th. This is done on purpose. While the loan should close on the 15th what happens if it closes on the 17th for some unforeseen reason. If they didn’t over estimate they would be short interest. Just like the overlapping interest, if escrow over estimated any interest the borrower will get it back at closing from the escrow company.
Accrued interest is a topic that comes up frequently in your loan signings. Knowing how quickly answer simple questions will separate you from other signings agents who can not. Not to mention it will cut your signing time in half.
Remember our job is to be impartial not uneducated.
I’m Mark, I teach the Loan Signing System, and I’m looking forward to helping you become a top loan signing agent.