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December 18, 2020

Why are the fees offered to us so low you ask?

Filed under: Carmen Towles,Popular on Facebook (A little) — admin @ 3:15 am

Why are the fees offered to us so low?
….because many of you keep taking them. Some folks are new to the profession and don’t know any better. They want to get experience at any cost. Others know better but take them because they are desperate and can’t seem to find better paying work. Whatever camp you fall in you should not be taking low fees. Why? Because it hurts all of us!

Let me give you some history on our profession. Years ago, it use to matter to signing services/companies who they used. There use to be oral and/or written tests given before they would hire you. And with the exception of a few they paid better and more timely. But those days are behind us. Most of them don’t seem really to care. They are looking for the most green, inexperienced notary so they can maximize THEIR profits. Most title and escrow pay anywhere from 150 to 300 per signing and the signing services know this even if you don’t. The money is allocated from borrowers closing fees and the (title/escrow) typically aren’t paying it out of their title/escrow fees, they are charging it the borrowers. So signings don’t cost them anything for the most part. (there are exceptions to this but no need to get into that now, that’s for another blog). 🙂

Many of you ask me why they use signing services in the first place. Bottom line is they use them for convenience. It is easier to just give the service the assignment and let them find a notary. It frees them up and saves them an enormous amount of time to follow lender instructions and make sure all conditions are met so they can close. But over the years as things have slowed up and due to many notary errors many have abandoned signing services altogether. So contrary to what many folks think many of them do still use notaries directly. But the notary signing professions is still over run with companies that are just out to maximize their profits. And this is our fault.

I had a notary just call in the other day and told me that she was offered a sellers package from a signing service for 20.00. (you know they were receiving WAY more than that) 20.00 dollars people! Unbelievable. Just take a moment and let that sink in. That paltry fee is not even worth starting your car up for. Here in Callie we get 15.00 per signature and then if you have to print (god only knows how many pages) and then take them to FedEx or UPS to ship them back, it is just not worth the time, energy or paper.

Now the saddest and worst part about this situation is probably not the ridiculously low fee of 20.00 being offered, it is the fact that although the notary speaking with me refused, we know somebody will/or did accept it. For those of you that have followed my blogs and or spoken with me, I predicted long ago that as long as there are notaries that take low fees, they would persist and they would eventually get lower and lower. That day has come. I too was just recently offered 65.00 to go to a place that is about 40 minutes from me. There were 2 copies needed to be printed, signed and dropped all at FedEx or UPS all for for 65.00. I would never accept such an assignment, even if I were desperate.

I know that a lot of folks don’t really understand this business and the learning curve is quite high. I also know that other notaries once they start to figure things out they don’t share information on pricing/fees. But we need to work together. We need to educate each other that fees need to be fair and reasonable. We are all in this to make a profit. And you can’t make a profit if others are making/taking the majority of the money (signing services) and you are undercutting one another just to say you had some work.

Remember, the goal is to work direct! Marketing and advertising is key to your success in reaching those title and escrow that have had it with signing services. It is time to works smart not hard. Know your worth.

Just some food for thought…

You might also like:

Travel fees if nothing gets signed

What are mobile notary fees?

Notary Marketing 102 – negotiating fees



  1. i love reading your blogs. Always helpful.

    Comment by adam richardson — August 7, 2019 @ 3:48 pm

  2. You hit the nail on the head Carmen.
    I actually have had this discussion in other forums before and was accused of fixing fee and that is not what I was doing just giving food for thought.
    Those that didn’t like what I had to say are probably the one taking low- ball fees.

    Comment by John Farrell — August 12, 2019 @ 4:27 pm

  3. A couple of weeks ago I got a call from one of those annuity advancers to take a job about 20 miles away and offered me $115, but I had two closings already scheduled and couldn’t fit it in. Them I was texted by one of the signing services to take the same assignment, but offered $40. I have often had two different signing services for the same closing at different fees. We notaries are often left hanging by the computer for documents that are not delivered until an hour before the closing, which means only one closing can be done in a day, and then have to chase the services down for slow payment.

    Comment by Elise Dee Beraru — August 12, 2019 @ 4:51 pm

  4. Why are the fees offered to us so low?
    ….because many of you keep taking them.
    I don’t, and many SnapDocs customers will accept my fees bc I will drive to some towns nobody else wants do. I am 30 minutes drive south of the biggest cities.
    HOW could they not know, unLESS they can’t do math and don’t factor in costs of using your own car/gas. The beauty of this part time work is that you can FIRE employees that don’t treat you right.
    I need to make a profit and even withOUT taking your excellent test yet–I AM studying up for it, bc you said it was difficult–I STILL do a more thorough job than anybody new to this after 6 1/2 years. It takes me an average of 4 hours to do a signing. I check page by page to make sure that all are there. I record all notarized documents bc I keep an accurate journal. I check at the signing table for signer errors AND I do final check of notarized documents for any of My errors. I am confident when I ship that the job is accurate. Part of this trend is how companies make us wait until the last possible minute to receive documents and the rush, rush, rush unNECESSARY to do our best job. Makes me steamed up thinking about this!

    Comment by betty — August 12, 2019 @ 5:23 pm

  5. Exactly! Sometimes the package will include a doc that reveals the amount the service is getting for notary services and I’ve seen ranges from $250+ to $300. I never accept anything lower that $85 and this is when the signing is in my own neighborhood. Printing, travelling, executing documents is an extremely valuable service not to mention we often conduct a signing in less than desirable environments and sometimes with people who are not prepared adding to the length of the signing. I agree. We need to stop accepting the low ball bids. Thanks for this article.

    Comment by Elizabaeth Croteau — August 12, 2019 @ 5:42 pm

  6. I only take these low ball signings when they are only 5 miles away

    Comment by Menyard Smith — August 12, 2019 @ 5:44 pm

  7. I think it all depends on the Notary…I have a set minimum fee and all the lenders/title companies are aware….every now and again I am offered a low fee…I always refuse tell them what I will charge and in most of the time they come back to me….so it all depends on us….yes a newbie or someone desperate will take it…but if you have an consistant history with them…you will usually get your fee….in Ca.. we get $15 per notarizing a signature and I use that to advise of why my fee is as it is….Good Luck to you all!

    Comment by A.C. Dye — August 12, 2019 @ 5:50 pm

  8. Notaries are among the worst crybabies I’ve ever encountered… and liars.
    Betty claims that she spends four hours per signing. This is an obvious lie.
    I’ve done way over 1000 signings, and go slowly, and am very thorough. I rarely go beyond two hours, even though I’m sort of gabby and overly friendly.
    But obvious lies have become truths in certain circles in the USA. Betty sounds like a charter member.

    Comment by Jeffery Northrup — August 12, 2019 @ 10:27 pm

  9. My daughter calls the low fees a race to the bottom. How fast we get there will depend on the market you personally help to create. When we get a standard and know our worth the low ball fees will stop. So will the other verification, we are asked to provide. We take jobs with the hope that we are going to get paid. Who are these signing companies, and why are we afraid to refuse some of the request? If they called and asked would you do the signing for FREE, you would not hesitate to say no thanks. But because you have not given much thought about the upfront cost, of your time, travel, materials, scan backs, parking free etc. you sell yourself short every time. Personally I am not afraid anymore to say no, and stop thinking about whether it was the right decision. Professionalism comes with a price and it is never cheap. I think if anything it is one of the many signs of a newbie.

    Comment by Patricia Dodd — August 13, 2019 @ 3:07 am

  10. Fellow Notaries: FYI
    Let’s not sell our services too cheap. During 2018, I accepted what I thought was a good assignment from a lending institution for $ 200.00, to confirm vehicle identification numbers, and take multiple photographs on a number of vehicles. This assignment took several hours to complete and return photos and their records. The company representative low balled me to take this assignment, and this was my fault for being gullible to his persuasion. Their deal was well over 1.5 million dollars for their client.
    I am being purposely vague in my description of this matter to protect the client’s information. I will never again allow my services be sold so cheap.

    Comment by Michael Hunter — August 13, 2019 @ 5:52 pm

  11. This is always an interesting read both the blog and the Fees charged. I am in rural Iowa and when I tell them my travel fee they say well it is on 25 or 30 or 50 miles. They seem to forget when you are 50 miles away it adds 2 hours to the already fee discussion, confirming the order, printing, signing, checking, scan backs (the entire package), packaging and delivering the docs (in our case the box) and hopefully no errors for a return trip. The 4 hours Betty takes is pretty close to what it is depending upon travel. So Notaries the question is what is our time worth by the hour and expenses?

    Comment by Gary Bowers — September 10, 2019 @ 9:24 pm

  12. Agree with you Carman Said it all along I received a cattle call from Snap Docs for a loan modification $30 dollars HaHa I get double that for mobile notary services. Idiots.

    Got another text for a signing that was 400 miles round trip – 150

    Comment by Desmond OConnor — December 23, 2019 @ 7:39 pm

  13. No, Jeffrey,I do spend time on my signings. I am angry that you suggest otherwise. For the average package, 130+ pages,I print, go through all pages in front of the PDF, record all notarized documents on a list for THAT JOB, drive to that job, spend ~ one hour AT THAT signing, then the time to check, drive to where it will be dropped, etc. averages 4 hours/average package signing. Bully for YOU Jeffrey, if you can witness a signing, reCORD in your journal ALL notarized documents In that package, catch any discrepancies, like the names on the title documents differing from those in the lender package and not make Any errors. You are either a Wunderkind or YOU are lying and that reminds me of a local NSA whose slipslod work I have had to clean up via resigns. Jeffrey, spend some more time HERE and read articles on signing procedure. I am closing in on 2K signings. You simply cannot trust your printers to not make mistakes, and there is way more to record in your journal that one line/signing and/or ditto marks to indicate same information. I fill in every line as if I knew I was going to have to present it in court.

    Comment by betty — December 23, 2019 @ 8:08 pm

  14. Cesar writes, Yes! you are totally right! I am barely new in this field (loan signing agent) but we have an small firm of Insurance and taxes since 2007, and I realize how companies are taking advantage of Loan signing agents ! Just like you are saying , as long as notaries takes the signings offered at very low pay they will continue paying whatever they want! I live in Highland CA and they offer signings in Lake Arrowhead for $ 40.00, shining or snowing it doesn’t matter for them, $ 55.00 for Victorville with 80 plus pages and scanbacks plus running to FED-EX to drop it. So I came to realize that unless they don’t raise close to what I ask to go I wont go, I don’t care! I’am sure there is a lot that will do it, but I wont play their game.

    Comment by Cesar — December 24, 2019 @ 6:06 pm

  15. Gotta love the signing services. I recently had one contact me and lowball a quote of $80 to go over 60 miles from my home. I gave her a quote and she told me that ‘notaries who charge that much are usually not worth the price.’ I told her that if she was making more than $25 per signing she was doling out, she was overpaid. Needless to say, she found some idiot to take her signing and she bragged as much. Same day, I got an assignment in another part of town for $250. I generally refuse to work for signing services and I think they got the message. They always require the most documentation for the lowest fees, too. Thank god that most lawyers offices and title companies now reach me directly. Signing companies aren’t worth the BS they put us through.

    Comment by BERNIE — December 25, 2019 @ 12:19 am

  16. Never accept a fee less than $100 in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Make sure you add additional fees when you are required to travel into rural MN (outside the Twin Cities). Add additional costs for second doc print and fax backs. If you are taking $75 for this work, Step up your game.

    Comment by Elizabaeth Croteau — December 30, 2019 @ 5:41 pm

  17. Thanks for sharing. Good info

    Im on the same page as Betty. From start to finish which includes invoices it takes me around 4 hours total. I thought it was just me

    Comment by Jannette Yvonne Thompson — December 28, 2020 @ 6:17 pm

  18. My Minimum fee is $100 regardless if its just down the street. The farther out I have to drive and if the package is over 200 pages the fee is increased. If you have the skills and experience you can charge a higher fee.
    I agree, you must know your worth.

    Comment by CHAR FONVILLE — December 28, 2020 @ 9:26 pm

  19. OK I agree. My fees are for local most closings $150.00. Farther than 15 miles or over 150 pages and scanbacks add $25.00 +
    I have stopped doing them for anything less. And I still work, not as much. My notary business has evolved into community work, P of A’s trust attorneys and my local prison.

    Comment by Gary Barron — December 29, 2020 @ 4:41 pm


    Comment by Dennis Brooks — December 30, 2020 @ 1:24 am

  21. Truth spoken by our beloved late THAT NOTARY GAL Carmen. she impressed this get paid your worth philosophy my first year in business. I actually doubled my income in one day. Travel fee i charge is $60 plus $10 per notarized signature as per Florida statute. Sellers sides are 125-150 and buyers sides are 175-200. Do yourself and all of us a favor and pay yourself first.!

    Comment by Kyle Russell — January 6, 2021 @ 8:27 pm

  22. Truth spoken by our beloved late THAT NOTARY GAL Carmen. She imparted this get paid your worth philosophy my first year in business. I actually doubled my income in one day. Travel fee i charge is $60 plus $10 per notarized signature as per Florida statute. Sellers sides are 125-150 and buyers sides are 175-200. Do yourself and all of us a favor and pay yourself first!

    Comment by Kyle Russell — January 6, 2021 @ 8:28 pm

  23. OMG……Thank you for saying this. I say this ALL THE TIME. And, funny enough, most in my fb notary groups tell me that I am in the wrong. That everyone should run their business they way they see fit. That even if they do closings for $65 they can add up. That kind of CRAZY talk. It’s the most short sighted outlook I can think of. Obviously, if there are agents out there willing to do signings for a fraction of others, they will create a reduced offer across the board. Hello??? I realize there can not be a set fee system, however, we can operate in a similar manner that other industries operate. Such as realtors. Understand your value and do not reduce your prices for anyone. Let’s all support each other. The only upside to some of those that don’t seem to get this, is that they will likely be out of business pretty quickly when they realize they are not making a profit.

    Comment by Dawn McCloud — January 6, 2021 @ 9:08 pm

  24. As a caveat, I see that others are sharing their fee systems, so in an effort of transparency and hopefully to help new agents, my fees are: refi’s $150 (over 20 miles $25 bump, over 150 pgs $25 bump, after/before hours request $25 bump); purchase $250 (if over 20 miles $25 bump, before/after hour request $25 bump). I’ve come up with these numbers based on my skill set, expenses, and an understanding of average fees charged by title for my services in my area. Best of luck to everyone!

    Comment by Dawn McCloud — January 6, 2021 @ 9:14 pm

  25. There was a loan signing request I received through a text from a service.. about 15 minutes later it was repeated with a higher fee. The location was at the limit of my mileage range, as the crow flies, but all rural roads at 25 to 35 mph. I responded to the request rejecting their fee offer and proposed over $100 more than they were offering. A few minutes went by and I got a phone call asking me about the higher fee. I explained that while the distance as the crow flies was 50 miles, on rural roads it was almost a 2 hour drive each way. They accepted my fee request and I was assigned the job. It was a nice Sat morning drive in the country for me.

    Comment by Robert Dibbell — January 6, 2021 @ 10:59 pm

  26. When are the signing Agencies going to pay a notary in a timely manner? Waiting 42 days for a paycheck is very unreasonable, excluding the signing agent who tells the notary the check was mailed when indeed it was not ever sent. Signing Agencies need policing and the notary needs a place they need to go to report a non paying agency. Please discuss this on your blog and get some action going to protect notaries.

    Comment by Ann Butler — January 6, 2021 @ 11:43 pm

  27. We have a new notary in town that has been undercutting everyone. I am still slammed anyway, but I know she is the culprit. Hopefully she wises up.

    Comment by Jocelyn Waters — January 7, 2021 @ 2:59 am

  28. Snap Docs have whored the industry and scan backs require “2 trips” so charge accordingly.

    Comment by Dennis Brooks — January 7, 2021 @ 4:50 am

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