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January 18, 2016

VA signings for $85? With 200 pages? No Thanks!

As a blog writer, I need to come up with ideas for interesting blog articles. So, I often go to Linked In and see what was popular there. I was visiting last night and saw that someone was offered a VA loan for $85. But, the package had about 200 pages! As new Notaries, you need to understand that not all packages are alike. Some Lenders have short packages while others have longer ones. Some Lenders have their documents ready on time while others don’t. Additionally, there are different types of loans — some are longer and more time consuming than others.

Large Loan Packages
VA loans are normally a lot longer than regular Refinances. FHA loans are longer and more complicated too. Additionally, Reverse Mortgages are longer and take longer partly because the signers are normally elderly. VA loans are for Veterans, and they might tell you some war stories about getting ambushed by the Taliban, but they are probably middle aged and able to sign in a moderate amount of time. But, the packages are long and take a long time.

What to Charge?
The average Notary on 123notary makes about $105 per signing (interesting stat.) If your standard fee is $100, you need to charge more if it is going to be a slow signing or a signing with an above average number of pages. You will be using your printer more, and spending more time at the signing. So, how much more should you charge? In my experience, more pages won’t take you that much more time. It will cost you a little toner and paper, but an additional fifty pages might only take you an additional twenty minutes assuming the signer is not a slow poke. What does take time includes: sluggish signers who read every word, elderly people who can barely function, issues with the loan involving long calls to the Lender, multiple signers who don’t always show up on time, problems with the ID.

Before You Accept the Job
My suggestion is to call the borrower and ask if they will be able to sign within a sixty or seventy-five minute window for a longer package. If they say no, then you might consider charging more or cancelling the signing. If you have the luxury to call the borrowers before you accept a job, you can have a lot more flexibility. You should ideally charge for time, and NOT based on the length of the package. I signed a 200 page construction loan in 25 minutes because the borrower was a professional and had been through the process dozens of times. His time was worth a lot and he didn’t waste a minute. He was like an assembly line.

As a General Rule
For most Notaries on 123notary, I would recommend charging $115 or $120 for VA signings and Reverse Mortgages. If you are very experienced with more than 5000 loans signed, then add another $25-$50 to that figure. Notaries should not try to charge too much unless they are so popular that they simply have to turn down good offers daily. Try to be reasonable and accommodating while you earn some notches in your belt! But, $85 is just too low unless you are a complete beginner!


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  1. Nations Direct now known as Notary Go offering full print, drive, sign and fax for $60. No thanks.

    Comment by S Baker — January 18, 2016 @ 8:11 pm

  2. OMGOSH!! That was THIS week, two signers who wanted to read Everything! The signer yesterday was a Veteran and just a tad spooky, but he was checking figures, and his Sane wife was the coborrower, otherwise I would have left the signing. 2 hours for 117 pages.
    The Monday signing was this local businessman, on a ReFi for a Chicago investment property, and he wanted to “check” the copies that I brought against the ones he had downloaded. I was very close to handing him the business cards of the two attorneys I work with and suggest that he do this closing with THEM, but he’s a cheapskate we know doing it with an NSA.
    I tell borrowers when I copy their ID information in my journal that I will save them time by finishing the entries past the first notarized document at my leisure. I decided to fill in my book while waiting for him. I hope that it made a point. He was also rude to me. I could have accepted it had he told me that he was worried and just wanted to be sure. I told him that I couldn’t spend 3 hours doing this signing, and he replied that I could go away, let him read the paperwork, and come back. You know we can’t leave the paperwork with the borrower.
    I think it’s partly because We are the only face that they see in this process. So, if the borrower is angry with his lender, he wants to take it out on US, who they see as the representative of their bank. I REFUSE to be labelled the bank representative, and when asked, refer to myself as the “Professional Witness” who is also an “Independent Contractor.”
    If a bank wants me to be Their representative, then I should be paid a retainer. What do YOU all think?

    Comment by betty — February 10, 2016 @ 3:15 pm

  3. Call the borrower before accepting the job and ask if you will sign in 60 minutes?

    Comment by John Axt — February 10, 2016 @ 3:18 pm

  4. There is so much that cannot be known before accepting an assignment. I usually ask “who is the lender?” The scheduler often doesn’t know, and the same for the size of the package. As to obtaining the borrower’s name and contact information, good luck there. FHA and VA loans are 6-8 pages longer than conventional loans. Reverses are bigger and do take longer so a fee adjustment is quite justified. Oversize packages also deserve a fee adjustment. On more than one occasion I have requested a fee correction for large packages and have given the assignment back if the requisite fee was not given. This has usually been with signing services, they need to learn themselves to be circumspect in accepting low fees themselves.

    Comment by Ellen Welsh — February 10, 2016 @ 3:23 pm

  5. Nations Direct keeps offering me closings for $60.00 that require at least a 40 minute drive each way and over 150 pages to be printed twice, usually sent less than two hours before the closing is scheduled to occur. I charge based mostly on time/distance, so unless the signing is within 10 miles of my house, I quote them a higher price. Usually I don’t hear from them again on that signing, except to call and BEG me to take it as their “base” rate. Forget it. 14 inch long paper is expensive, as are toner cartridges, gas and electricity. However, obviously they must find another notary in the general vicinity willing to be hosed on the fee. We mobile notaries need to stand firm on reasonable fees based on time/distance and the number of pages we must print.

    Comment by Elise Dee Beraru — February 10, 2016 @ 3:51 pm

  6. I totally agree with Elise. Reading this article I was thinking the exact same thing and feel the same way when asked to do a signing for $60. One company will accept my counter for $110, but another employee from that same company will stand firm and say every time, ‘I can’t go that high’. Hmmm we do all need to stick together and be firm with these middle guys. A notary still has the same overhead regardless of what the signing company offers. I’m not trying to make this my hobby!

    Comment by Sunmer — February 10, 2016 @ 4:36 pm

  7. Last year, I completed several signings for Notary Direct for $75 to $85. Since some of their loans involved fax backs and some were VA loans, I became concerned with the fees being too low for the time I had to put in. In January of this year, I received a call from Notary Direct and they explained that they have a new fee structure for 2016 and they only pay $70. As a result, I’ve decided not to accept any of there signing requests unless they are local without fax backs and no VA/FHA loans.

    Comment by John Humphrey — February 10, 2016 @ 5:18 pm

  8. Nations Direct now known as Notary Go also offered a very low $60 for a signing….I refused and asked that I have a min. fee of $90 with edocs for files under 130 and add in for anything over…..if notaries are willing to accept less…the fee will remain low…if we demand the fee appropriate for the work necessary….the fees will be paid that we request.

    Comment by A.C. Dye — February 10, 2016 @ 5:53 pm

  9. $115 – $120 for VA / Reverse mortgages?? No Way! $150 should be more like it.

    Comment by John Cown — February 10, 2016 @ 8:00 pm

  10. I agree! We must demand higher fees as an industry. Title companies are collecting $400 and upwards for document execution fees. Why is our portion so low??

    Comment by Brittany — February 10, 2016 @ 8:26 pm

  11. I accept those signings cause after expenses, I don’t mind making $25 to $50 an hour. It beats sitting behind a desk for 8 hours a day.

    Comment by Janette Sterner — February 10, 2016 @ 11:41 pm

  12. You know, if we simply continue to refuse to work for companies like Nations Direct (whatever their name) they would soon get the message. I also no longer work for companies that “babysit” me, calling to see if I’m on time, when I’m in the signing, when I’m done, when will I close the signing etc. I’ve almost gotten to the point where I won’t do fax-backs if they won’t pay me and additional $15-20 for my time and effort, especially when I could drop my documents on the way home, rather than driving them back to the drop point.

    All in all, we have to take pride in our professional services. We need to be able to make money on the jobs we do, and that includes a respectable amount for our mileage, as well. I get calls from Xome and other who want me to drive 70 miles ONE WAY for $90. I tell them it’s $150 and I never get a call back…so someone is taking the lowball job, that’s for sure.

    Stand up for your professional rights. Charge what you’re worth, and refuse to be taken advantage of. I know it hurts to give up the money, but in the long run you’ll make more, and have to put up with a lot less junk.


    Comment by Laurence Menzel — February 11, 2016 @ 10:45 pm

  13. I don’t even respond to inquiries for jobs offering $60 unless it’s a single document and next door. That’s ludicrous. If I’m in an exceptionally good mood when the inquiry comes in, and it’s for an amount under $100, I reply with a counter-offer. Gosh folks, when you do your income taxes, calculate whether or not you’re making a profit and stop taking assignments that aren’t profitable. That said, I don’t get my knickers in a knot if a borrower wants to read all the documents. I’m happy if people cate what they’re signing. Most will read the first few, get bored, and simply accept my summary of the content of the rest. Those who want to read the whole package, I give them credit for caution. On the subject if reverses, I have never had anyone who was more confused or “out of it” than usual, and if I arrive at a signing and found someone whose capacity I questioned, I would contact title immediately (as I once did for a borrower who was so drunk or drugged that she kept falling off the chair or leaning in me during the signing).

    Comment by Judith Korff — March 29, 2016 @ 12:19 pm

  14. This is so true! I specifically ask every time if it is a government loan and am told “No it is a standard refi”. I tell them up front that if it turns out to be either I will call them back. When I get the docs 80% of the time it is a VA or FHA loan. I call the scheduler back and renegotiate my fee. Tired of feeling taken advantage of by some signing companies….tell me the truth up front!

    Comment by Lisa Hanenkratt — March 29, 2016 @ 1:58 pm

  15. I’m a floral designer as well. It sounds like this company, Notary Go, is to notaries like Teleflora or 1-800 or Ava’s or Wesley Berry is to florists. They are middle men, spending money on seo, getting to the top of search results, and taking part of your profits. In florist world we call them DOGs, our damn order gatherers. More and more florists will not fill their orders. It will take almost all florists to refuse their orders to put then out of business. Don’t let them take over the notary industry!!

    Comment by Monique — March 30, 2016 @ 3:45 am

  16. After all the work I did to study and study some more and still study notary blogs/notaryclasses and read my 500 page handbook for loan signers (NnA) I’m beginning to think this work is a bit of a rip-off for notaries. So much work for so little cash. And
    important work – just think of the documents you’re working with. Too bad. Today everyone is an “independent contractor” (read: you work, I get the hefty commission, and you pay your taxes etc etc etc.) Seems the world is full of scam artists. I like being a Notary but think the Loan Signing business is not what I thought it was. C’est la vie. Non en rose.

    Comment by Janet Butler — March 30, 2016 @ 3:49 am

  17. I would never call a borrower to ask them how long it will take them to sign. How would they know? That is very unprofessional. Plus, you never want a borrower to feel rushed. They should always feel like the most important part of your day. Just know your documents. VA and FHA loan packages are usually well over 150 pages. In my experience more pages is more time. It is smart to schedule a minimum 2 hours of time for borrowers to sign large packages. We never know what we will walk into at a signing. So with that in mind charge accordingly. VA & FHA no less than $125. Reverse mortgages take even longer due to the size of the packages and the fact that the borrowers are elderly. For those I charge no less than $175.

    Comment by Jennifer — April 2, 2016 @ 12:02 am

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