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September 19, 2016

Do you negotiate fees correctly over the phone?

Most Notaries study from loan signing classes, but never study the art of negotiation. Negotiating is not hard, but it is an art. Turks, Persians and Indians seem to excel at this while Americans haven’t a clue. In negotiating Notary fees, the secret is to make sure the other person makes an offer first. If you offer first, it might be too low in which case you’ll lose money. Or it might be too high in which case they’ll think you are too expensive and might not want to bargain. If they offer first, you can raise the price by $15 or $20 and still be in their ballpark or just agree if they are being reasonable.

On the other hand, if you want a reputation of charging fair fees for solid work, you can have a pricing formula based on time spent or even have fixed fees, or mileage fees. If you charge $110 per signing, that seems reasonable. They can always bargain you down to $85, and if it’s not too far, you might say yes and make some fast money.

I remember talking to a sub teacher who made $90 per day. Making $85 in two hours including driving and printing is better than $90 in a day. So, you are making more than teachers who are supposed to be the pillars of education in society today.

The other thing to remember is that you have to get your facts and terms straight before you quote a realistic price. If you don’t know how many pages, fax backs, signers, and notarizations there are, you might not give a true price. If you don’t know if the company is fibbing about the # of pages you’re in trouble too. If you don’t know if you get paid if the loan doesn’t fund, you’re in trouble too. Terms are as important as price or anything else. You can negotiate a $500 price, but if the loan doesn’t fund, you might get zilch.

So, put all the cards on the table before you quote your rate. You can quote first, or wait for them to make an offer. Additionally, most Notaries prefer phone offers to emails or texts because they can bargain more easily. You can bargain in any medium. Just state your rate and state your terms by text, email or phone. It is the same — just more delays in feedback.

You might also like:

A comprehensive guide to Notary pricing

Can you negotiate prices with SnapDocs?

Negotiating with aggressive callers



  1. I find that on many occasions, a title company attempts to remove the ability to negotiate from the offer. The email or text will simply state that they are offering $65-100 for the signing. You have the option to accept or not, and by accepting you are also likely accepting that low fee. I don’t take these offers.

    For regular notary work, I do not negotiate my fees. They are posted on my website and other locations and are not negotiable. I do offer discounts, though, for certain vocations!

    Comment by David Hendron — September 21, 2016 @ 12:53 am

  2. I find that setting a firm fee for your work and then negotiating UP for time and distance works very well. My standard fee is now $100, but if I have to travel over 40 miles round trip, I start negotiation based on that mileage. My signings are almost all rural, so additional travel time for city miles is not so important. So, for me to go 120 miles r/t, I ask for $150-175 depending on page count and fax backs if any. This has worked well for me lately.

    I recommend setting a base fee and working from there. It weeds out the low ballers, and if you do great work, as most of us do, you’ll actually make more money and enjoy yourself more.

    Comment by Laurence Menzel — November 7, 2016 @ 9:15 pm

  3. What is fair for a newbie who is beginning to build a successful name for themselves?

    Comment by Zeta Katherine — November 8, 2016 @ 11:17 am

  4. I charge $100 plus $1 per mile traveled. I know that mileage seems high but it includes my time and our roads are mainly 45 mph if you can go that fast your lucky. I will adjust my base fee if the job will take less time and/or has less pages. I also have an extra charge for UPS since the closest drop is 20 miles RT. FedEx pickes up at my office.

    Comment by Vickie — November 8, 2016 @ 7:21 pm

  5. I live in AL, and when contacted, they state, the fee for AL is…usually from $35 – $50. Majority ate rural with 40 – 60 mi round trip. When I ask for mileage or higher fee, they say they will call back if can get it approved, or if can’t find another notary.

    Comment by Julia Reagan — November 10, 2016 @ 3:30 pm

  6. My fees are posted and I never accept an offer lower than what is posted. That stratey, along with my ability to provide excellent service, has brought in repeat business with several Title Companies. I too negotiate higher fees when the travel exceeds the city limits. Don’t you wonder who takes those offers for $40 for a 200 page refi with fax backs? I avoid signings with fax backs because it wastes time.

    Comment by Elizabeth Croteau — November 21, 2016 @ 12:25 am

  7. I sold Audi, Porsche and VW… O mastered and honed my negotiating skills I never lost gross nor customers to the competition… I negotiate everything

    Comment by Gino Carrozza — November 21, 2016 @ 1:08 am

  8. THe nature of a signing agents work involves unlimited liability, not like a substitute teacher,(another undervalued job) and more expenses than gas, mileage and toner- don’t do $85. signings even if its across the street! Our fees cannot be compared to or based on other professions/jobs.If you charge low, you are actually better off being a substitute teacher. There is also no such thing as a volume discount, the risks and expenses are the same every signing. THey are to pay you the same price every time to insure good quality every time. You are NOT selling tangible retail items by the dozen or gross. For low pay, you have to rush through the appointment (more chance for mistakes and a free go back), make yourself crazy and after expenses its still not worth it. See the list of signing agent expenses that I added to another post under ‘what a signing agent makes\. Add your expenses on this list at the end of the year, then divide it by how many appointments you did that year, then subtract about 15% for income tax and whats left is what you made for each job. Not much.
    As for fax back, if you know this industry you know that it is necessary on non owner occupied properties where there isn’t a 3 day rescission period. But do charge something for it, because this is yet another service you are asked to perform.

    Comment by Dan Serbin — November 21, 2016 @ 2:22 am

  9. I work out of Central Virginia and I find signing services have no idea of the time and cost they demand for the flat $60 they offer. 2 hours printing on 14″ paper, usually at the last minute, 3 hours round trip, an hour at the closing, faxbacks AND then an additional trip across town to a manned shipping location. If I demand more, they tell me this document service won’t go any higher. Unfortunately, they are my largest source of work. If I could just eliminate faxbacks it would increase the value of my time. Negotiate? Ha! Maybe in LA, but not in Central Virginia. Here there’s always someone who’ll work for less. The rub is, usually it’s me.

    Comment by Elise Dee Beraru — November 21, 2016 @ 3:19 pm

  10. I also speak another language so I charge an additional $25 and if driving over 30 miles in heavy traffic I charge another $25…but I also have a history with the majority of lenders who know my work….someone new may find someone else….It is all cost effective for me…does it make cost sense for me to do X Y or Z without compensation….

    Comment by A.C. Dye — December 26, 2018 @ 11:24 pm

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