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November 22, 2020

How long does it take to get through a signing?

Filed under: Best Practices — Tags: , — admin @ 11:52 pm

Most Notaries allow around an hour for a signing. But, for a HELOC, Reverse Mortgage, or other longer packages, the timing can be unpredictable.

I did a huge construction loan for someone. I was in and out in 20 minutes with a 180 page package. He was a business professional and knew the drill. He didn’t read. He just signed. There are others who read all day at your expense.

One Notary claimed her average signing is 45 minutes. But, it depends on the lender and the type of package, type of borrower, number of pages, etc. Another Notary on Linked In claimed 45 minutes to an hour. A third Notary claimed 45 minutes as well. A forth Notary kept track of her signings over the course of a year and came up with the figure or 45-75 minutes unless there are multiple signers in which case it might take 15 or more minutes longer.

Older clients (the kind that leave their left blinker on for half an hour in Florida) might need 90 minutes for a signing. They can barely see their pen, so how can they possibly know what they are signing?

The considerations for how long a package will take to complete should be thought about in this order.

Age determines how long a package will take to complete more than any other factor. Elderly people cannot see well, can’t hold a pen well sometimes, and get very tired. Allow a lot of extra time for Reverse Mortgages, Hospital signings, etc.

Professional businessmen can get in and out of a signing quickly, unless they make you wait for their busy partner to arrive which might take an additional ninety minutes without waiting time unless you negotiate well.

# of Signers
If you have five signers, you might be there for a while. They will have more bathroom breaks, more showing up late, and if even one doesn’t have proper ID, that throws the whole game off.

# of Pages
A fast signer can get through a long package quickly. But, a “reader” will take forever. The type of sign(er) is more important than the type of sign(ing) as a professional signer can whip through a 300 page loan faster than a nit-picky suspicious “reader” can get through an 80 page signing, especially if they have to call their lender.

Prepared Lender
If the Lender on the loan prepares his borrowers well, the signing will go fast. But, what if you get a Lender who waits until the last minute to fill in the blanks. You will be at the signing over an hour with a Lender like that. I had a best client who never prepared his borrowers well. The money was not bad, but they really took advantage of my time. Most Lenders have a few screws loose, and the Notary is the one who pays for that.

# of Notarizations
I was a fast Notary and could do 11 notarizations for two people = 22 notarizations in less than half an hour. But, it is a lot faster to do one notarization especially if the signer whips out their ID quickly (use a stopwatch for measuring that.)

Ending Joke
Here is a Maine joke for you guys.

TEXAS NOTARY: I once had a signing so big it took me three hours to complete

MAINE NOTARY: A-yup, I once had a printer like that


You might also like:

Following directions is more important than you think

The grace period after your signing

10 ways female notaries can protect themselves



  1. One more huge time eater: the presence of attorneys. I turned down a high paying assignment because I was told there would be attorneys from both sides “examining and negotiating” the terms on a loan package. Yecch – the attorneys get paid by the hour and like to have a nice long session. Not for me.

    Comment by Kenneth Edelstein — January 23, 2017 @ 2:05 am

  2. Then there’s the purchases. If a Realtor or two is attending, they don’t have
    anything to do, but feel the need to justify their presence. They can eat, chew and kill time like no others.

    Comment by Susan Ulery — February 1, 2017 @ 4:42 am

  3. Kenneth, you didn’t charge enough for that signing! I work with two attorneys and they DO read everything, but they also do/have done mortgage closings and at a signing (in both of their opinions) is NOT the time to go over the details, bc THAT should have occurred in the preparation. It is always a nervous borrower who is reading documents he or she doesn’t understand (like the standard mortgage) at a signing that delays things. I try to put 4 hours between signings on a day that I have multiple signings so that I will not be late for the second signing. PREPARATION IS THE KEY!! I have created saved notepad created emails which I send to borrowers and signers (Sellers/Buyers) to give them a list of acceptable ID’s, and a request for printed copies of them, and I have created specific emails for CHASE signings and others since CHASE, for instance, will accept their own credit card as a secondary ID. I copy and paste and will include any specifics about that signing, then ask them to “write back OK so that I know that you have received this” to make is EASY for me to know that it has been read. I cannot tell you how often this has made my signing go faster. Lenders focus on getting through their voluminous stack of loans and usually do NOT communicate well with their borrowers. The same with Title companies that produce Sellers packages. WE are the ones that get beaten up when we: (1) use the wrong color ink; (2) miss hidden lines for initialing; (3) assume that every signature line (Sellers/Buyers packages) are to be filled in; and (4) the Title/Lenders assume that we are familiar with their own particular packages. I make it a habit to attack whoever is my contact with questions for clarity. Yesterday I could not reach the title company when the Buyer had questions and could only email without immediate feedback, and had to write that I would correct anything that was missed. TOO OFTEN our instructions are incomplete. Add to that that we are usually the ONLY face that the signers see and it makes our job more difficult. STILL, I am tolerant of older signers who need more time and patient with someone who may need to take a signing break. I try to communicate before the signing to push the signer to review their document package, or at least their CD and do NOT accept a voicemail, but push to talk to a real person to get their answers. I had a recent Buyers package scheduled at 9AM took 2 1/2 hours to sign bc of updated documents (printed at their Bank), where Title sent an updated CD at 12:30PM, when I was getting ready for a different signing at 2PM. I told my vendor that I was no longer available that day and I inferred that it would cost them more if they wanted me to reprint and try to get together with the Buyers. They need to pay me for a whole day if they wish to make me wait a whole day.
    Often you need to let your Vendor or Title (if directly hired) your fee to be retained for a whole day. Often, for ME, I learn by doing and I try to not be working for $5.00/hour bc the Title Company/Lendor was not prepared for this signing. After one hour (normal signing) I will suggest that perhaps this signing should be rescheduled. You have to be nice but pushy.

    Comment by Betty — February 1, 2017 @ 1:59 pm

  4. I leave at least 1.5 hrs between Signings. Alot of signing companies – if they give you 2 or 3 on same day – don’t realize the time the documents take and drive time to the next. Better to miss an assignment than be rushed and screw things up and get a” be back” call for corrections

    Comment by hopelynn — February 1, 2017 @ 4:17 pm

  5. it takes 1 to 2 hours depending on how many questions the signer has, or if they read the pages
    this does not include printing time, or driving time to the appointment, or driving back to the office, and over to fedx

    Comment by michelle — February 1, 2017 @ 6:09 pm

  6. It’s important to let the signers take the time they need for their signing. Thanks again for great articles. Jackie

    Comment by Jackie Brown — March 2, 2020 @ 6:09 pm

  7. Love this article, even the best of sellers, buyers of refinancers are going to read something, or have a question, it is misleading to tell a signer that it will only take 30 mins to an hour. I allow a minimum of 2 hrs per signing and 1.5 hrs between signing. older people like to talk, and are very methodical, young people are full of questions.

    Comment by Sheryll Beville — March 2, 2020 @ 6:52 pm

  8. I agree that saying a loan signing “takes about an hour” is completely misleading. A refinance package with 2 signers and around 11 notarizations is 22 entries into my journal. In California, these must all be written in long form, no abbreviations or hash tags. Truth be told, it takes about 2 hours at the signing table. This does not include printing time, package prep time or commuting time to the appointment. Nor does it include going over the documents again to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes, doing scanbacks and then packing up the package and taking it to Fed Ex. All told, this is about a 3-4 hour commitment. Not sure how people are making the kind of money that some of these loan signing trainings are claiming. Direct or via signing services, a package takes as long as it takes regardless, and in California it takes a long time.

    Comment by Diana Compton — June 20, 2021 @ 2:57 pm

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