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February 22, 2015

Point (2) The Note; Story: Background Noise

Filed under: (2) Technical and Legal — Tags: , — admin @ 6:14 am

Marcy, The Baby, and the FHA Signing

Marcy was a little big traumatized after her last signing, but she wouldn’t be able to face her neighbor Patricia if she quit now. So, she decided to just do it. She waited patiently by the phone as she watched her toddler. Her husband often worked nights, so she was all by herself with the exception of her screaming child.

And then the phone rang. It was Nicole from Hawaii Title. They needed a loan signed that night and couldn’t find anyone.

NICOLE: Hi, this is Nicole from Hawaii Title.

MARCY: Aloha. (child screaming in the background, radio playing loudly too)

NICOLE: I hope that’s not a dissatisfied customer.

MARCY: No, he’s a little cranky tonight. I just told him a bedtime story called Snow White and the Seven Lenders. Don’t get me started on Grumpy.

NICOLE: Oh, is this the one with the wicked Escrow officer who gives her a poisoned prepayment penalty?

MARCY: No, that part was too scary.

NICOLE: Well, we have an FHA loan we need…

TODDLER: Wahhhhh! Wahhhh!

NICOLE: Is something wrong?

MARCY: Oh, well Chuckie doesn’t like the word FHA. You see, in the story, the evil Escrow Officer did mostly FHA loans.

TODDLER: Wahhhh! Wahhh!

NICOLE: Okay. No problem, I’ll call it a Federal HA loan. I know it can’t be easy raising a young child. But, it’s not easy for callers to endure any type of distractions. I noticed that not only is your toddler screaming, but there is also a radio playing in the background. Putting aside how difficult to hear you over this noise, it is also considered very unprofessional to have any type of background noise on a professional call. I’m sorry to give you a lecture on this, but I think you sound serious about this business and you need to know. Many companies just won’t hire you if they sense any unprofessional behavior on your part be it oral communication, if your notes section has spelling mistakes on 123notary, or mistakes on loan documents.

MARCY: Oh, I had no idea. But, that makes sense, now that you tell me. I’m just so used to Chuckie, that I don’t realize that other people might not be so immune to his antics. I’ll put the baby in the other room. And my husband will be back soon, so I can go out to do a signing the minute he returns.

NICOLE: Okay. Just keep in mind that FHA… oops, I meant to say Federal HA loans, take considerably longer to sign than straight Refinances. But, I will be on the other end of the line the whole time in case you have questions. And we require fax backs.

MARCY: Okay, 123notary told me that companies that require fax backs do so to ensure that the loan is correctly signed when a beginner is working for them. This makes sense as I am a beginner — a very enthusiastic beginner. So, I won’t complain about fax backs like the other notaries!

NICOLE: That’s what I like to hear.

MARCY: Bring it on!!!! I’m ready for your FHA

NICOLE: Wahhhh… Just kidding.

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Point (2) The Note
The Note (also called ‘the agreement’ by some companies) is the basic contract between the borrower and the Lender; it includes the basic terms, conditions, and information about the loan being signed.

The Note includes:

(1) The Rate

(2) The Prepayment Terms (these are usually explained in two paragraphs on the first or second page)

(3) The Payment Amount of Principal and Interest (this doesn’t include taxes and insurance).

(4) The day that monthly payments are due.

(5) Penalties for late payment

(6) The amount of the loan

The Note also specifies that it is secured by a ‘security instrument.’ (This will be discussed in the next section, specifies where to make payments to — many other kinds of information are also in the note. It is simplest to understand the note as merely a list of agreements, as previously mentioned. Adjustable Rate Notes. This document is a note with information about what the adjustable rate is based on and how it can fluctuate.

Please note that the best place to look for information about the prepayment terms are in the Note or a Prepayment Rider if there is one, and NOT on other documents as other documents do not have thorough information about this topic. Please also note that The Note is not normally a notarized document.

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You might also like:

30 Point Course Table of Contents
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14233

Point (3-4) The RTC & TIL
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14291

The Mortgage & The Note
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=13203

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January 15, 2019

Notary Etiquette 104 — The initial call

Filed under: Etiquette — Tags: — admin @ 11:27 am

Return to Table of Contents for – Notary Etiquette 104

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1. Introduce yourself
Introduce yourself properly by phone when you answer the initial call to hire you. “This is June of June’s Notary Service” is a lot better than, “Hullo?” High-brow clients will judge you by how you answer the phone, so answer like a professional if you want to be treated like one.

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2. Answer questions the way they were asked.
If someone asks what your hours are, tell them your beginning and ending times. Don’t say “it depends” and don’t be vague. Give them a clear picture of your availability without making them ask again. If someone asks how many loans you have signed, don’t give them a summary of your professional background, just give them a quick number. If someone asks if you are still in business, don’t tell them you are eating dinner or on vacation, just tell them that you are still in business. Just answer the question.

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3. No background noise
Screaming children, televisions, or people talking in the background sound unprofessional. You need to turn the TV off, go into the next room where there is no noise, and apologize if there is any noise. That is called being professional. If you are in a restaurant, there might not be much you can do, so at least let the caller know where you are and that you cannot do anything about the noise at least for the time being.

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4. Don’t scramble information
Asking people to repeat endlessly is horrible. If your phone is horrible, get a new one rather than accuse the other person of breaking up. If someone asks if you can do a notarization for two signers on three documents, don’t repeat it back to them as, “Okay, three signers on how many documents?” That is called scrambling information and sounds ignorant.

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5. Don’t brag
Notary Signing Agents have the desire to overprove themselves. The secret is to make a good impression by being helpful and not shoving your credentials down someone’s throat. It also makes a good impression to ask a few relevant questions about the type of signing or document. Asking a few pertinent questions looks professional. Show the world how good you are without trying. Just politely and calmly answer people’s questions and they will get the impression you are a seasoned pro and not an overanxious newbie.

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6. Act calm
Acting calm and helpful is a lot better than acting anxious and overly helpful or overly unhelpful. People get put off by desperate or unfriendly behavior. Seasoned signers normally act calm. Signers that are over-seasoned are too calm because they don’t care if they get the job because they want to retire, so don’t be too nonchalant either.

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7. Speak clearly and listen
There is nothing worse than a Notary who mumbles or speaks unclearly. With such Notaries you have to keep asking for clarification as to what they said. And what’s worse, when southerners say the word “bell” it sounds like “bail” and you have to ask them if they meant b.e.l.l. or b.a.i.l… Why can’t we all just be Yankees? Then, there are the Notaries who aren’t paying attention who have to ask you to repeat half of what you say. They are very unpleasant to work with, so please listen carefully when talking to clients.

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8. Confirmation calls
During the confirmation call, it is practical to ask the borrower to prepare for the signing by having a clean dining room table, have animals out of reach, children taken care of, and no noise. Make sure all parties will be there early, have identification, and have any documents or checks going back to the lender or title. It is better if the borrower leaves their outside light on so the Notary can find the house more easily.

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9. Answering machines
Your answering machine should not have unprofessional sounding music. I cannot say what unprofessional music sounds like. Some people have Vivaldi that is just too loud while others have hip hop music. Just be sensitive to how this music would sound to a hiring party and use your judgment.

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10. Grammar
Do you use bad grammar? It don’t matter. Well, actually it does. People judge you in all sorts of ways, so try to use proper grammar as that is part of etiquette.

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July 9, 2018

How do you handle these phone situations?

Filed under: Etiquette — admin @ 9:43 am

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Notary Situations

and how to handle them.
Notaries should know how to handle these situations, because you can lose clients very easily. Clients do not want to know about your problems or your family. They want you to get a job done professionally. Here are some scenarios Notaries typically screw up.

Screaming kids in the background
You might be used to your kids, but your clients do not want to hear them in the background. If your kids are screaming, train them to be very quiet when you answer the phone or leave the room if they can’t control themselves.

Relatives answering the phone
When you use the, “Hullo???” method of answering the phone, it is impossible to know if you are talking to the correct person. This is unprofessional and makes a horrible impression. Of the Notaries who have lasted on 123notary for ten or more years, very few say hello. The ones who say hello are not professional and generally do not last more than a few years. Everyone who answers your phone has to announce themselves, otherwise get a mobile phone that only you answer. If your three year old answer the phone, this is very unprofessional, however, if they say, “Rutherford residence, this is Brandon” then it becomes more tolerable.

Answering the phone with an alias
If you answer the phone, “Hi, this is Kathy” but your 123notary profile says Andrea and the person says, “May I speak to Andrea.” and you say, “This is her.” This creates a very annoying confusion. The point of having a name is so people know who you are and what to call you. If there are twelve people named John in one home room class at school it becomes confusing. And if you have multiple names that you go by that is confusing. Stick to one name or use an AKA when you answer the phone. “Hi, this is Kathy AKA Andrea.” That way no more confusion.

Answering the phone at a restaurant
If you answer the phone while at a noisy restaurant, it is best if you are able to step out within seconds of answering the call. The first thing you must do upon answering is say, “I am at a busy restaurant and I apologize for the noise. I can step out if you need to talk to me.” If you don’t keep in mind that nobody wants to hear the background noise and have you continually saying, “what, what what?” every time they ask you something, then be considerate and professional and either don’t answer the call, or step out quickly upon answering. Or text the caller and let them know your situation.

Having a bad phone
If you have a bad phone with bad reception, don’t keep making the other person repeat themselves and then yell at them telling them they are breaking up. That is unprofessional and rude. It is YOU that have the bad phone and it is YOU who is breaking up, not the caller. So, invest in a better phone with better reception otherwise you will lose a lot of clients and will have nobody to blame except yourself.

In a signing
Don’t answer the phone only to tell the other person you can’t talk. That is just plain rude. If you can’t talk, don’t answer. If you do answer, give the other party 90 seconds before you get short with them — hear them out, and be considerate. After the clock strikes a minute and a half, then let them ,know that you cannot talk any more because you are at a signing.

Between signings
If you just got out of a signing, are between signings or are on your way to a signing and refuse to talk to someone, that is rude. If you are at a signing, there is a reason not to talk long. But, if you are between signings and someone calls about business and you tell them you are busy — then, they will have to call you back, but they will reach you at another signing when they call back. If you are impossible about talking to people you will lose half your business.

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You might also like:

Notary Marketing 102: Phone & Communication Etiquette
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19764

How do you negotiate fees correctly over the phone?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16757

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March 24, 2018

Notary Marketing 102: Phone & Communication Etiquette

Filed under: Comprehensive Guides,Loan Signing 101,Popular on Twitter — admin @ 8:08 am

Return to Notary Marketing 102 Contents

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Part of marketing is the act of actively promoting yourself. But, a lot of marketing is about doing a good job and communicating well.

To get hired to do Notary work, you need not only to know what you are doing, but you need to communicate clearly as well. Here are some major issues with phone etiquette.

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DURING THE INITIAL CALL

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1. Introduce yourself
Introduce yourself properly by phone when you answer the initial call to hire you. “This is June of June’s Notary Service” is a lot better than, “Hullo?”

2. Answer questions the way they were asked.
If someone asks what your hours are, tell them your beginning and ending times. Don’t say it depends and don’t be vague. Give them a clear picture of your availability without making them ask again. If someone asks how many loans you have signed, don’t give them a summary of your professional background, just give them a quick number. If someone asks if you are still in business, don’t tell them you are eating dinner or on vacation, just tell them that you are still in business. Just answer the question.

3. No background noise
Screaming children, televisions, or people talking in the background sound unprofessional. You need to turn the TV off, go into the next room where there is no noise, and apologize if there is any noise. That is called being professional.

4. Don’t scramble information
Asking people to repeat endlessly is horrible. If your phone is horrible, get a new one rather than accusing the other person of breaking up. If someone asks if you can do a notary for two signers on three documents, don’t repeat it back to them as, “Okay, three signers on how many documents?” That is called scrambling information and sounds ignorant.

5. Don’t brag
Notary Signing Agents have the desire to overprove themselves. The secret is to make a good impression by being helpful and not shoving your credentials down someone’s throat. It also makes a good impression to ask a few relevant questions about the type of signing or document. Asking a few pertinent questions looks professional.

6. Act calm
Acting calm and helpful is a lot better than acting anxious and overly helpful or overly unhelpful. People get put off by desperate or unfriendly behavior.

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CONFIRMING THE SIGNING & AT THE SIGNING

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7. Call to confirm the signing
Go over all pertinent points. Make sure the ID proves the name on the documents and that all the signers will be there. You should also verify that there is a clean table to sign on. You should go over how long the signing should take, if there is anything going back to the document custodian and if they have used morphine or Jack Daniels within several hours of the signing. Nothing beats a sober signer or a well organized Notary Public.

8. Introduce yourself at the door
It is good to mention that you are Joe the signing agent and that it is your job to facilitate the signing. Mention that they can address all of your questions to you, but that you cannot answer specific questions about their loan, but only general questions about loan documents and Notary procedure.

9. Small talk is good
People like a friendly Notary who can talk about small talk. But, avoid any topics that could be controversial such as gender issues, sex, guns, and how born again Christians should have a second birth certificate for when they were born the second time.

10. Don’t discuss guns and religion
Unless you are notarizing the Obamas, don’t bring up Joe the plumber, or religion. But, if you are notarizing the head of the NRA then you might reconsider guns. If you ask him to shoot you an email, don’t be surprised if he asks what you want him to shoot it with! Yee-haw!!!

11. Don’t park in the driveway
The driveway is for the residents to park in, not you. You are their humble servant who parks on the street (sorry.)

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OTHER

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12. Dress for success. Business casual is great. People get complaints more for dressing poorly than for being a horrible Notary. So, go to Men’s Wearhouse first, and then buy that Notary course you were thinking of. And remember — it’s not what you know — it’s how you look! Notaries who show up in shorts and flip-flops get some serious complaints and even a bad review on their profile. In short, don’t dress like me.

13. Carry loose Acknowledgment, Jurat and other certificates in your Notary Carry All Bag that you purchased from the NNA. Carry a thumbprinter, wipes, and pens with you. Nothing is worse than a Notary that doesn’t have pens except one who wears flip-flops. Having good professional equipment makes you look like you know what you are doing even more than actually knowing what you are doing.

14. Arrive on time
Nothing is worse than a late notary other than one who wears flip-flops.

15. Follow up punctually
If you have to get the Fedex back, do so immediately. Do not wait to drop a package unless you are waiting for a call back. If you wait 90 minutes or more for a callback, consider that title needs their docs back and it might make sense to just drop it. That is a judgment call, so think carefully about it. If you get emails, answer them asap.

You have to be available after signings for up to the rescission date and sometimes later. If you become unreachable after the signing, you will get very serious complaints. The worst complaints we get about notaries are that they were rude, or unresponsive after they had completed work.

16. Don’t be rude
If someone is rude to you, don’t reciprocate. Your reputation is on the line. You can get penalized for being rude even if the other person deserves it. So, watch yourself!

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Please Also Read:

Best marketing resources for Notaries. This entry goes over active vs. passive marketing in detail
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16322

Notary etiquette from Athiest to Zombie
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=13718

Long term marketing plans
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15793

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April 21, 2013

Mistakes notaries make w/ Title Companies

Notaries all want Title Company business, but not all of them get it. Why?

Experience is half of the problem, and skills are the other half. But, what about the THIRD half?

Communication skills
Do you use bad grammar? Do you make spelling mistakes in your notes section?

I also make spelling mistakes. Fewer than I used to make ten years ago since I write more.

But, Title Companies will reject a notary based on these factors.

What if there is no useful information in your notes section?
Do you ramble when people talk to you, and go on and on?
Do you go off on a tangent during a conversation and not stick to the topic at hand?
Do you give dumb sounding answers to simple loan signing questions?
Is there background noise when a title company calls you?
Do you answer the phone by saying “Hullo?”
Do your children answer the phone?

Does your answering machine have unprofessional sounding music?
Does your answering machine state your name?
Is your message system full?
Do you have reviews on your profile?
Are you certified by 123notary?
Do you have a tone of voice that is uninviting?
Do you ask people to repeat what they said?

Notary: Hello?
Tammy: Hi, this is Tammy from Tammy’s Title
Notary: Who is this?
Tammy: TAMMY from Tammy’s Title
Notary: Tammy’s Title?
Tammy: Yes, Tammy’s Title! May I speak to Linda please
Notary: This is her.

Jeremy’s comment: Are you deaf? Tammy stated her personal and company name very clearly when she called you, what’s the problem. Are you not paying attention? Or, do you just not know how to respond, so you ask a stupid question? Tammy thinks you are very stupid by now. Did you know that roughly 15% of notaries ask me to repeat information that I stated very clearly? I am not sure what their problem is. If I ask a quiz question, then 80% of the notaries make me repeat the entire thing twice — but, that is more tricky, so it is allowed in that context.

BTW, it is bad etiquette to say hello when answering the phone. State who you are otherwise the other person will have to guess or ask you. Also, don’t say, “This is her” as that is bad grammar. “This is she” is correct even though it sounds strange.

To sum up the point of this article.
If you want Title companies to think well of you and hire you — don’t act stupid. Have your act in order, and be able to answer questions quickly. Be professional — otherwise they will hire someone else who is professional. Title companies pay up to $150 a pop and notaries line up for these types of jobs. Title companies have choices — you don’t!

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You might also like:

The way you treat Jeremy might be the same way you treat title
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19590

When a title company lies to you
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19349

If you contact title companies directly, what do they want?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16110

Notary Marketing 102
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19774

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April 14, 2013

Minimum Competency Test Study Guide

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:21 am

We really want all of our notaries on the site to pass our certification test. So far, roughly 1700 people out of 7000 on 123notary (March 2013) are certified or elite certified by 123notary.com. The others are not, and they are not interesting in paying for any study guide or tests. So, my solution is to offer something more basic that is FREE.

We will have an online test eventually for minimum competency. In the short run, we will do an over the phone test. We don’t even have the programming for an icon for the minimum competency, but we will have one soon. In the future, we will set a requirement for how soon you have to pass our MC test to stay on the site. But, for now, there is no rule — only FREE study materials.

Here are the topics we are including in this test:

(1) Confirming the signing & confirming identification
Many signing companies do not want the notary to confirm the appointment. However, if you don’t, then the borrowers might not be ready for you when you come. If you have a busy night of signings, you can not afford to be kept waiting. Additionally, if a non-borrowing spouse is on three or four of the documents (which is typical), you need to make sure that they are there, or else you might not get paid. Be careful of companies that don’t want you to confirm unless they have a spotless payment record with you and on 123notary.com/s (i-phone accessible list of signing companies with reviews).

When confirming a signing, introduce yourself and let them know that you are the notary. Let them know what time you are going to see them, what their NAMES are on the documents, and WHO is required to show up.

Example.
Notary: Hi, my name is Charles Notarinsky, and I will be your notary public this evening. I will be showing up at 6pm. Peter J Selinsky, and Jane Doe will be signing documents this evening. Will both Peter and Jane be able to be at the signing at 6pm? Additionally, may I ask if Peter’s identification has his name typed exactly as Peter J Selinsky with the middle initial J, or a middle name starting with the letter J?

Borrower: Why do you care?

Notary: Legally, I will not be able to notarize Peter’s signature if there is no middle initial or middle name beginning with a J in his identification document. Additionally, I need to make sure that both signers have CURRENT government issued photo-ID.

Borrower: Oh, I didn’t realize that. Hmmm, let’s see. Yes, my ID is a current California Driver’s license expiring in 2017 and has the name Peter John Selinsky. It looks like we are in business. Jane’s license also has her name as Jane R Doe which is longer than the variation on the document. That is okay, right?

Notary: Longer on the ID works — shorter doesn’t. We are in business. See you at 6pm, and in the mean time — cross your eyes and dot your tees. See you soon.

Note: Some states will allow an expired ID if it was ISSUED within a specified number of years.

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(2) What to say and what not to say
(a) Once assigned a signing, proceed to the signing at the appointed time.

(b) Don’t park in the driveway as that is considered rude — unless you have permission to do so. Don’t ask permission to park in the driveway unless there is a problem parking on the street. If the borrower has a one mile driveway that goes up a steep hill, or lives in a condo complex with assigned parking — ask for help.

(c) Don’t call the borrower a customer or client. The Title company is the end-user here hiring the signing company that hired you. You are the notary signing agent and they are the BORROWER.

(d) Answer the phone stating your name. Don’t say, “Hullo” and keep people guessing as to your identity. First of all it makes them ask who you are which is an unnecessary and aggravating extra step. Second, it is not professional. Third, they might confuse you with your daughter and start explaining the loan process to your daughter.

(e) Don’t let other people answer your business line. If your daughter uses the same line, then she must introduce herself when answering the phone.

(f) Don’t have background noise when answering the phone, and if there is noise, then apologize for the noise and move to a quieter location.

(g) Don’t answer the phone only to tell someone that now is a bad time to talk. If now is a bad time, then don’t answer the phone. If you answer the phone, give people at least 90 seconds of your time out of courtesy.

(h) Think twice before answering your phone at a signing. If you don’t, then you might miss the opportunity for your next job. If you do, then you will be being rude. Weight the factors before you answer your line.

(i) Tell the borrowers at the BEGINNING how long you can stay. Tell them that this is a signing appointment, and that if they need to read everything in detail, that they are welcome to read after the signing, and that they have (3) days to rescind if they don’t like what they read.

(j) This is a business meeting, so don’t talk about politics or religion as that might offend people. Even talking about the weather is off-topic. Your job is to get in, sign the documents, and get out to your nearest Fedex station as soon as possible.

(k) No drinks on the table — ever

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(3) Signing as printed
Borrowers must sign their name exactly as printed — unless the lender or your contact person specifies otherwise.

If the name on the document doesn’t match the identification, then legally you can not notarize them under that typed name. In such a situation, consider using the Signature Affidavit to document the other names the person goes by and signing as the identification reads. In this situation you have a choice between satisfying the LOAN OFFICER, or your state’s Secretary of State. The lender can not put you in jail, but the latter party can. The law takes priority in this case.

If the signer’s name is James J Johnson, then they sign James J Johnson, and the middle initial J should ideally show up clearly. Otherwise the lender will have trouble selling the loan to a third party. Please take this into consideration as most loans are sold.

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(4) When to call the Loan Officer, Title or Signing Company
If the borrower has any SPECIFIC questions about their loan, call the Loan Officer or whomever you have been instructed to call. If your appointment is under time pressure because you have to go to your next appointment, let all parties concerned know that you have to leave at 8pm whether their documents are signed or not. If you are knowledgeable enough to answer general types of questions about documents, you might consider answering them yourself unless your state has a law against notaries opening their mouth such as in Attorney states.

If the your contact person(s) is/are not there, then leave a message and wait 20 minutes for a return call. If you don’t get a call back, then leave another message and wait another 5 minutes before you give up.

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(5) Your job is not to coerce
If a borrower doesn’t want to sign something, call the lender or your contact person. If you left a message and they don’t call back, don’t take matters into your own hands until after you called twice leaving the appropriate amount of waiting time between both calls. If you don’t hear back after the second waiting time, then explain how the borrower has three days to rescind and that they can talk to their lender during those three days to have the situation explained to them. Additionally, explain that their loan might not fund if they don’t sign.

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(6) Reading instructions
Many loans come with an instructions sheet called a letter of instructions. Read that before doing anything. Take note about oral instructions too. Each lender has their own rules. It is your job to follow the rules. Some lenders want you to call them about any little thing. Others allow cross outs. A few don’t want you to confirm the signing. Many want you to break the law. Don’t break the law — but follow all legal instructions. By the way, if you don’t know your state’s law, then you won’t know if you are breaking it, and you can end up in court or jail very easily. Know the law!

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(7) Following instructions
A lender named Chad assigns the notary a signing. Chad says that if there is any problem, to call him at 333-333-3333 immediately, otherwise you are fired. The notary goes to a signing for Joe. Joe gets half way through the stack and finds that he doesn’t like the XYZ document which is not notarized. Joe says that he refuses to sign. The notary calls the lender and gets, “Hi, this is Chad, I’m not here right now…”

Q. What is the next thing that the notary should do?

A. Leave a message and wait for a response. In the mean time, don’t twist the borrower’s arm into signing.

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(8) Listening and answering questions
I ask notaries questions, and it is like pulling teeth to get responses.

Q. How many loans have you signed?

A. I have been signing loans for three years… actually, three and a half years.

Q. I think you didn’t understand the question. How many loans have you signed?

A. Oh, well, I do about five loans per week.

Q. I think we are having a communication gap, how many loans have you signed in your career?

A. Hmmm, I never thought about that.

This is an easy question, where the notary is really testing the signing company’s patience.

Q. What are your hours of operation?

A. Well, I’m flexible

Q. I’m sorry, but that is not an answer. I don’t know what flexible means. Please tell me what hours you are available to work.

A. Well, I start at 8am.

Q. Thanks for the starting time, without an ending time, I don’t know when you can work until, and this is incomplete information

A. Well, it depends.

Q. You are not being helpful. Please just tell me what hours you are generally available for signing work.

A. Hmmm, I guess from 8am until 10pm, unless my daughter is staying late for softball practice in which case only until 9:30pm, and then if I’m feeling tired then perhaps 8:45 pm, but then I am rarely tired, and then…

Q. I’m sorry, but I am filling in a form that has room for numbers — not stories. Do you have an ending time? If not, then I have to remove you from my list permanently.

A. Just put 8am to 8pm.

Q. Wouldn’t it have been easier for both of us if you had just started out saying 8 to 8? It was like pulling teeth to get a simple answer from you.

Many notaries cannot answer simple questions. If they are this incompetent about answering simple questions, how will they handle complicated snags in a signing? Will they do something that endangers the loan out of stupidity? I think we all know the answer to that question.

Q. How would you explain the APR to a non-borrowing spouse?

A. Hmmm, well in my state, the non-borrowering spouse is not responsible for signing the documents, except for the …. (long explanation)

Unfortunately, this notary is anwering a DIFFERENT question than the one asked. They will most likely get fired even though they are very knowledgeable. Signing companies need notaries who follow instructions and answer questions — preferably the same question that was asked.

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(9) The RTC
For a non-investment refinance, the borrower has (3) days not including Sundays and Federal holidays to cancel their loan. The day of the signing is NOT included in counting the days. If you sign on a Saturday, then Monday is day one, Tuesday is day two, and Wednesday at 11:59pm is the deadline for cancelling the loan in writing by the acceptable stated methods (stated in the Right to Cancel document). Sometimes the notary is expected to write in the dates, or change the dates in the Right to Cancel. If you make a mistake you could ruin someone’s loan. Learn how to count the three days, and memorize your Federal holidays in sequential order. Also, some lenders do not allow CROSS OUTS in the right to cancel, so make sure you know what you are allowed to do or not allowed to do.

If the borrower signs where it says, “I wish to rescind”, then don’t cross out, just grab a borrower copy and start all over. WATCH signers, as they seem to sign in the wrong place a lot these days.

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(10) Journal entries
Not all states require journals. However, your journal is your only evidence if you should ever have to go to court. Keep a THUMBPRINT of the signers in your journal just in case anyone suspects fraud. A thumbprint is the most potent piece of evidence about the identity of the signer. Keep in mind that identification documents can be forged. Additionally, women change their hairstyle a lot, so you might not be able to recognize them in their ID photo. Some states require journal thumbprints for documents effecting real property and powers of attorney. Since the notary’s primary job is to identify signers, why not use the most effective means of identification as a supplement to the identification? It is fast and easy and could keep you out of court!

Q. If two signers are signing three documents each, how many journal entries do you need?

A. A separate journal entry for each document per person, which equals SIX journal entries. Each entry needs to be completely documented and signed by the signer.

Please record any unusual circumstances of the signing in your journal if there is any blank space. Sometimes there is an additional notes section. That will be your evidence in court. So, write that information with the intention of understanding what you were talking about when you read it five years after the fact. Your memory will fade, so be as thorough as possible and include all details that will job your memory.

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(11) Smudgy seals
New notaries don’t understand that certain documents get recorded with the county recorder. Each individual at each of the USA’s different county recorder offices has different standards. They have the right to be very picky if they like. They might not like cross outs, light seal impressions, seal impressions with missing corners, or smudgy seals. Be careful when you are notarizing a recorded document. If you smudge your seal, you can use a loose certificate, and attach it to the corresponding document. The lender might not like that, but the law likes that and recorders will not complain about that.

Deeds, Mortgages, Subordination Agreements, and documents with the term Lien are likely to be recorded in addition to some Powers of Attorney.

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(12) Cross outs (Acknowledgments)
If there is wrong information on an Acknowledgment certificate, what do you do? Out of state wording that is not acceptable in your home state? Wrong information in the Venue such as a wrong county? What if the form says that two signers are showing up, but only one actually shows up? Should you cross out or attach a loose certificate? You can notarize a document twice if you have two journal entries in case you want to do both. If you add a loose certificate, make sure you LABEL the additional information section completely. A fraud could reattach your certificate to a DIFFERENT document signed by the same signer if you don’t document the name of the document, number of pages, document date, and any other information that your loose certificate might indicate.

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(13) Don’t leave unsigned paperwork with the borrowers
If the borrower won’t sign one or more papers, then load it up into the outgoing Fedex. The borrower’s copies are for the borrowers, not the lender copies.

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(14) Confirmation of completion
Confirming the signing before the signing
Just say, “Hi this is Frank, I completed the signing for the Mazzingos at 14 Cherry Lane, Twingsboro, MA. The Fedex tracking number is 3333-3333-3333, I repeat, the Fedex tracking number is 3333-3333-3333. Call me if you have any issues.

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(15) Don’t backdate
If asked to put a date on a notarization different from the date you went out — that is illegal — just say no!

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(16) Never use white out

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(17) Fedexing the documents
As documents are time sensitive, get them in the Fedex drop box as soon as you can (or drop box of whatever courier you are using). If you need to hear back from your contact person concerning a signing, don’t delay getting the documents back while you wait, as you might endanger the lender from getting things processed before the deadline. If you wait until the next morning to send it back because you are waiting for the signing company to call you, you might get busy the next day, and forget to put the Fedex in the drop box. You might miss the deadline, the documents would get back late. The borrower could even lose their lock in the worst scenario and sue you for $20,000. Don’t play games with time sensitivity.

Also, use a drop box at a Fedex hub, or manned station. Drop boxes in remote areas are not always picked up on schedule, and you will be in big trouble if they are not picked up. Know your local stations by memory so you know where to go, and don’t procrastinate. Get the documents in the box the night of the signing. Don’t wait until the next day unless you are forced to.

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(18) Don’t send loose certificates in the mail

Lenders are notorious about asking notaries to send loose certificates in the mail. That is illegal and can be used for fraud. If asked to do this, just ask for them to get the original document back to you with the original certificate. Then, destroy the original certificate and attach a new one. You do not need to see the signer again, just as long as there is only ONE well documented certificate floating around — attached to the document in question. Make sure to label the certificate with the document name, document date, number of pages, and any other identifying information you can think of to prevent the reattachment of that certificate to some OTHER document which would be frauduluent.

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(19) Additional visits
You might be asked to make an additional visit to a borrower. Make sure that the company who hires you has a good payment record. You are much LESS likely to get paid for a second visit than you are for a regular signing as it might not be in the company’s budget. Be careful. On the other hand, companies will be very unlikely to use you in the future if you don’t make 2nd visits upon request — so also be careful.

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(20) The 48 hour rule
Notaries need to be available by email and phone within 48 hours after the signing. If the signing company or lender needs to talk to you, and they can’t reach you, they will write a complaint on your listing on 123notary and that will stay there permanently. They might need you to go back to the borrowers, or they might need to clarify something with you.

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February 15, 2013

Signing agent best practices: 63 points

Here are a few tips about best practices. Maybe none of your clients will care, or maybe they will even adamantly dislike your best practices. But, if you have any self-respect, you will engage in best practices.

LEGAL & TECHNICAL BEST PRACTICES

(1) Hand written documents.
As a notary, it is not illegal to notarize a hand written document. The issue is if there are cross-outs, or blanks. Blanks make it illegal to notarize, but cross outs are a question mark. Personally, if you care about best practices, and not ending up in court for some stupidity that the signer did, then require typed documents with no cross-outs or blanks.

(2) Don’t pick the type of notarization for your signer
That is their job. Legally, you can not choose for them.

(3) Blanks in documents
Put a line through the blanks or refuse the notarize. (that was quick)

(4) Cross-outs
I would avoid notarizing anything with a cross-out. If you can do a cross out, you don’t know if it was there before the notarization or not. If there is one before, what prevents there from being more after. You can forge an initial without being detected, so cross outs are an indication that you need a redraw.

(5) Affixing your seal over wording
This is illegal in many states. The notary seal should be placed in an area of the paper where there is no wording, and do not sign or write over the stamp impression or you void it. If there is no space, then attach a loose notary certificate and make sure you document all pertinent facts on it.

(6) Loose certificates
NEVER send a loose certificate in the mail or hand it to a client. Always attach the loose certificate to the document, preferably before affixing your notary seal. Always document the name of the document, document date (if any), number of pages in the document, document description on the certificate in addition to filling in the standardized state wording, signing and sealing the form.

(7) Journals
Keep thumbprints in your journal. If your state doesn’t require journals, write them a letter about how poor their standards are and then go and buy a journal from the NNA. Also, there is a section called, “additional notes” in your journal (hopefully). Please use this to write down anything unusual about the signer during the signing, or anything unusual about the circumstances. Write it so thoroughly, that when you are in court five years later about that signing which could have involved fraud on the part of the signer, that you will have your evidence handy! Impressive!

(8) Oaths
If you do sworn Oaths, make sure to have the affiant (know this term) raise their right hand. Make sure to study up on formal Oath wording. Oaths are serious, and you are a state appointed official, so keep it official, okay?

(9) Embossers
If you don’t have a 2nd notary seal, get one. Embossers create a RAISED inkless impression. Use it as your secondary seal, and you can affix it to all pages of all documents you notarize for security. There are many frauds out there who do page swapping after the fact. To avoid page swapping (which could lend you in court for something they did after the fact) use an embosser. That way when you get a phone call 2 months later to notarize that separate page they are adding, tell them that you have to do the whole thing all over again. Sorry Charlie, that is a best practice!

(10) Learn the correct verbiage for power of attorney signings
But, there are four accepted verbiage variations. My favorite is Joe Doe, as attorney in fact for Mary Doe. Always call the lender to find out what type of verbiage they want at a signing. Remember, it is their loan, and just as long as you are not breaking the law — do it their way!

(11) Overseas documents
People overseas have bizarre standards. Some require the stamp to be on the document itself no matter what, but they didn’t put the verbiage in for your state. There is nothing LESS legal about attaching an acknowledgment form, but it is not about the law at this point. It is about whether or not THEY like it! So, find a legal way to handle their overseas the way they like. Once I manually wrote in the California Acknowledgment verbiage by hand and then sealed it. It was legal. Not exactly a best practice, but if they won’t accept best practices, then settle for “best practices under the circumstances”. Chinese are a tough crowd — you will find out!

(12) Initialing
Many Title companies don’t like suffixes such as Junior, or IV at the ends of names. But, if you are Louis Remy Martin IV, then the IV is part of your name, the 4th part of your name to be precise. Ronald R Rubin initials RRR. Get the initials to be correct and thorough. And if a lender doesn’t like it, should you break a best practice for their happiness? I don’t know of any laws about initialing, but making an initial of each part of the name is only logical, right?

(13) Signing for confused elderly people
If you sign for a person in a hospital, or someone who is just elderly. Make sure you have whomever calls you READ the identification over the phone to you including the expiration date. Have them read the name on the document too. Elderly people can never find their ID’s, and if they assure you that they have it, don’t believe it, they are lying. Trust me. I know! I am experienced and you are not! Otherwise you would be writing this blog. Do not notarize an elderly person if they can not move their arm on their own. Do not let their daughter drag their arm across a page that they are signing. You can use the daughter’s arm as a brace, but not a movement device. If the elderly person can not paraphrase what the document says, DO NOT NOTARIZE. And, by the way, the night daughter might be a con-artist who is pretending to help the elderly woman, only to be trying to cheat the old lady out of her money. Notaries beware!

(14) When in doubt, call your state notary division
Sometimes the handbook is just not enough. It doesn’t include all situations, and it is not written in English either. Legalese is not my mother tongue, what about you? Call them and bug them. Do it right or not at all. The NNA offers a good notary law hotline too, but get your information from the SOURCE and call your state notary division as your first choice!

(15) Safeguarding your seal and journal
Keeping it under lock & key is the rule of many states. A locking bag, a locking file cabinet. Keeping it in your car, etc. But, honestly, property DOES get stolen, and you need to protect yourself the best way. If your goodies are in your car, keep in in a place where it won’t get taken in a break-in. Keep it under the seat, or behind some large container in the trunk. I kept it in my trunk, but where the robbers could see it. Everything was in a little bag, and they probably thought it was a lap top and valuable. They were in a rush and didn’t inspect it before they took it. If it is at home, keep it in a locked file cabinet instead of hanging around in your locked bag. Go above and beyond the law for best practices. Keep your seal in a place where it is least likely to be “robbable”.

(16) Be an expert at your state notary laws.
Look them up in your state notary handbook. Keep this book with you. It is your bible when you are at work.

(17) Be an expert at credible witness procedure, and signing by X procedure in your state.

(18) Be an expert at all notary and signing related knowledge.
Don’t half know it or kind of know it. Be an expert, and it will show. You will be higher on people’s list if you are.

(19) Keep four phone numbers with you at signings.
In jail you get one phone call. But, as a notary you get many, and should have three phone numbers. The number of the signing company, the lender, the borrower, and the lenders’s wife. Just kidding about the last one. You need to call the lender half the time at a signing because they are such a careless bunch, that they will not have thoroughly prepped the borrower for the signing, plus there might be unexpected surprises on the documents as well. Be prepared!

(20) Using your seal on a blank piece of paper.
ILLEGAL. However, if you go to a jail, they require this for security. So, affix your seal, and then cross it out and write the words void. It is no longer illegal. It is the BEST way to clean up a WORST practice that the jail makes you do. I joked with them and told them that I thought it was funny that I was being forced to break the law by a guard at a jail. What is the world coming to?

(21) Check the signature on the identification
Does the signature on the identification match the one on the document? Did you check? Start checking.

(22) Bad identification?
Is the identification peeling? Is the signature above the lamination? Does it look like a fake identification document? Do you even have a reference guide to know if it is fake? It is your business to know. Get the NNA book on identification and drivers licenses. Also, take thumbprints. Standards for identification should be a government issued photo ID with a physical description, serial number, signature, and expiration date. Nothing else will do. Whether or not the government issuing the document need to be in the USA or not depends on what your state laws are!

(23) Thumbprints
Take thumbprints for all Deeds, recorded documents, power of attorney — as a minimum. Do this regardless of what your state requires. It could keep you out of court, and time is money. Get an inkless thumbprint pad from the NNA. Get this today. You should not be without it for one nanosecond. They can fake an ID, and fake a signature, but you can not fake a thumbprint.

(24) Don’t notarize for people who ask you to break the rules or who look suspicious.
Are you notarizing a kidnapper, or is the signer under duress? Stay away! It is not worth the money and you could get involved in a nightmare that just doesn’t end. What if someone asks you to notarize them under a different name variation than is what their identification says, and you tell them it is not legal. What if they say, “Oh, come on!!!”. What if they threaten to not pay your travel fee if you don’t? First of all your travel fee should be paid in cash at the door, or just leave. Avoid this type of people. They will make your life twisted.

(25) Don’t backdate
Signing companies will put you under pressure to do this if a borrower will lose their lock. Just say no. Tell them that their lock is their business and that your business is obeying the laws of your state which say, “No backdating“. Tell them that the security of your commission is not worth their convenience. Just leave. Don’t deal with these frauds.

(26) Don’t use white out
White out is a worst practice and will get you fired. Cross outs are a bad practice as well.

(27) Name changes the kosher way
A processor I used to work with instructed me not to cross anything out. Just have the borrower initial under the last several letters of their last name and then sign the way the new name will be typed in the document. After the fact, the processor can type in the new name. The cross-out simply doesn’t help. They just need the initial. The processor can cross it out in a way that they think is professional.

(28) Don’t explain the specifics of the loan or when the loan will fund
Just explain the basic definitions of loan terms such as APR, or rate if your state allows that. Specific information particular to their loan is for their lender to discuss with them. You can get in trouble if you make any explanations or commentary about information specific about their loan. On the other hand, you should be an expert at looking up specific pieces of information. APR is on the TIL and perhaps the Settlement Statement, so tell them that and show them where it is. The interpretation of what the information on the Settlement Statement is up to them and their lender, not you!

(29) Don’t notarize for someone who you can not communicate directly with
Some states allow the use of interpreters. I say you should not as a best practice. The interpreter could be lousy, and misinterpret something that you said. You are leaving yourself open to communication gaps. If you speak a little Spanish and can get by, and the signer understands you and vice versa, that works. Don’t create opportunities for communication gaps. I have traveled to enough foreign countries to know that people in different cultures communicate differently, they say yes when they mean no, they lie, they misrepresent, they save face, and fail to explain things thoroughly (especially asians who do the quickie explanations that leave out 95% of the meaning). I am not knocking foreigners — I just don’t believe half of what they say — and I don’t believe half of what Americans say either since Americans are a bunch of liars too! Speak directly to your signers! Learn oath verbiage in Spanish, or whatever your rusty foreign language is. Learn how to ask if you understand the document.

(30) Have a registered business name
We have notaries on the site who change their business name on our site every month. Each month it is the name of the month. This is illegal. If you have a registered business name that is registered with your county, then that is your business name, and you should have a bank account that takes checks paid to that name.

(31) Don’t draft documents
Unless you are an attorney, or authorized to draft documents, don’t get involved. You can get into bad trouble.

(32) Don’t give legal advice
If you are not an attorney, do not give legal advice. Interpreting laws, or suggesting that a person take a particular legal action might be construed as legal advice or the unauthorized practice of law.

(33) Consult an attorney before doing modifications
Although modifications could be legal in some states under some circumstances, they are often done in an illegal way, and YOU are not knowledgeable to know the difference, or to know what you can or can not do. Consult an attorney or stay away!

PRACTICAL BEST PRACTICES

(34) If you don’t get paid on time, contact the Title company.
They might fire or discipline the signing company in that case.

(35) Charging travel fee in cash upon arrival
It is ILLEGAL for a notary to have beneficial interest in the signing. However, many clients including Title companies will simply not pay the notary if the documents or loan packages don’t get signed, notarized, and funded properly. Unfortunately, that is illegal to put the notary in the position where they will only get paid if they notarize. It is actually a MISDEMEANOR in many states to ask the notary to do something illegal which could include having beneficial interest. If you don’t get your cash up front BEFORE you see the signers, documents or identification, you will be sorry. Get your cash, and THEN see the document. If it is incomplete, that is their problem. No identification, or the names don’t match? Their problem. Signer is in a coma and can not talk — their problem. Some situations will merit waiting time, and you will have no way to enforce your WAITING FEE if you don’t have your travel fee. You will not be in a bargaining situation as they will have the upper hand. If you have your $40 cash travel fee, you can say that you want waiting time when the clock strikes 20 minutes otherwise you are leaving. You have the power that way, and you DON’T have beneficial interest anymore (learn to define this term to be professional).

(36) Contracts with signing companies
Have your own contract that you make companies sign to get a better price with you. Make sure you indicate that if there is any ISSUE with the signing such as a last minute cancellation, no-sign, redraw, or anything unusual, that you get paid quickly. These are exactly the types of situations whre notaries typically get stiffed. So make them pay you faster in these situations so you don’t get stiffed. Even if you charge them a discounted fee. Make them pay within 10 days for these types of signings or charge them a penalty. No contract on your terms, then no discounts for you! Take the upper hand. You are a business person!

(37) Background check all companies who want to hire you
Check them on NR and the 123notary forum — OR ELSE… You will live to regret it if you don’t.

(38) Don’t put the Fedex in the drop box
Fedex is a great company, but they do hire human beings which is their downfall. Not recommended. If a driver changes routes, the new driver might goof (once in a long while) and that drop box in a remote area might not get picked up on time — or at all. Drop your Fedex at a staffed location. The deadlines are later, and it will be in the right hands 100%. Be safe.

(39) Printing on the road
This is a business best practice. If you can print on the road, you will be on time to more appointments, and can print last minute documents in a flash. You will be popular with lenders, plus gain people’s respect for being a prepared trooper. It is very expensive to have a comprehensive mobile office, so be ready to pay through the nose.

(40) Don’t go to houses that smell bad
You can end up in a hospital with a serious bacterial infection. If it is really filthy or smelly, tell them you will do the signing at Starbucks and that you have to leave at 5pm. Risking your lungs is not a best practice.

COMMUNICATION & ETIQUETTE BEST PRACTICES

(41) Don’t talk about the wrong things at signings
Don’t talk about politics or religion. Stick to the weather and traffic, but not in the context of complaining!

(42) Call back etiquette
Announce who you are when you call back. Don’t demand to know who they are until you are politely introduced yourself and explained that you received a missed call from that number. Also, don’t call people back only to tell them that you can’t talk. That is plain stupid and is a worst practice.

(43) Announce who you are when you answer the phone
Do you say, “This is Linda”, when you answer the phone? Or do you say, “Hullo?”. Be professional.

(44) When you confirm the signing, make sure all signers are there
If you do a signing where the wife is not on the loan, she might be on a few of the documents such as the Deed of Trust, Right to Cancel, and one or two others depending on what state you are in and who the lender is. Make sure you know where the wife will be during the signing, otherwise it might be a short signing. Remember, that you don’t know what is on the documents until you get the e-documents which is within minutes of the signing. Plan ahead and confirm the signing.

(45) Make sure your answering machine states your name!
Don’t make people guess if they dialed the correct number.

(46) Don’t ramble, make long pauses, or give opinions
Nobody wants to hear your life story, especially not me or my staff. Nobody wants long answers to quick questions. Nobody likes it when you ask them a question and you pause for 45 seconds to think. Don’t criticize others or give opinions either. Your job is to be a notary. Notaries don’t have opinions — or at least shouldn’t.

(47) Leave enough time between appointments
There is no point being late because you were delayed at your last appointment

(48) Determine how long your signing session will be.
Charge based on time. When you go to a massage therapist, you pay for a 60 minute session. If you go over 60 minutes, the next victim is waiting and they have to stop. Notary signings should be no different. Agree ahead of time how much time they want, and make them commit to that, or don’t work with them. If they want 90 minutes or 120 minutes, that is fine. Have them agree to that up front, and pay accordingly. Your job is not to be delayed endlessly. After all, your next appointment has the right to see your face showing up on time, right?

(49) Don’t have noise in the background when you talk on the phone
If someone calls you and there is noise. Apologize for the noise, and then walk to a quieter location. Don’t let the background noise continue otherwise you are unprofessional in my book.

(50) Don’t park in the driveway.
Your job is not to notarize, don’t put the Fedex in the drop box, and don’t park in the driveway. These are my three golden rules for notaries. Notarize only if it is legal to do so. Bring Fedexes to staffed locations, and park on the street unless there is a good reason why you should call the borrowers and ask if you can park on their driveway.

(51) Know your hours of operation
Never say that you are flexible. Tell people when you are available. I am available from 11am to 2am seven days a week unless I am already engaged, on vacation, or dead. That is a quick and professional answer. Don’t say that it depends. Don’t say that you sign anytime. People who say anytime have such restrictive schedules that they won’t sign any time other than 9-6. Flexible means 9-5:30. These terms mean absolutely nothing. Act like a professional and give people hard numbers when they ask a question — and don’t keep them waiting.

(52) Use your notes section to describe your service thoroughly
Don’t use empty adjectives like thorough and professional. Describe what YOU are like at a signing which is unique to you, so people can get to know you through your notes rather than reading something that looks like you copied it from 3000 other boring notaries who use exactly the same adjectives in exactly the same order. Talk about how fast your laser printer is. Talk about your exact counties or cities that you cover. Give people real information in your notes section, not some empty sounding sales literature that tells them nothing.

MARKETING BEST PRACTICES

(53) Get certified by ALL listing agencies who you advertise with.
If you advertise with ten companies, do all of the certifications. You look like an idiot if you can’t even be a professional at your profession!

(54) Having reviews on your profile from esteemed Title Companies looks great.
It is not a crime to have reviews from “nobodies”, but it is a best practice to have the people who review you be as reputable as possible. Their reputation is your reputation when they write a review about you.

(55) E&O insurance looks professional
E&O insurance looks professional, but is it? It makes it attractive for a company to hire you. E&O doesn’t protect you that much though. You can still get sued if the lender makes a mistake and the borrowers sue all parties involved. This happened before. You will not be covered. It actually encourages lenders to make claims rather than reducing your liability! E&O insurance makes you look good, so get some! But, is it a best practice? Being covered is better than being not covered, so I will call it a “better than nothing practice”. Or, I can call it something that looks like a best practice to the uninformed.

(56) Background screening
If your state doesn’t screen notaries as well as California does with the FBI, DOJ and KGB, then there might be some merit in a background screening.

(57) Advertise on all major directories
Have a well filled out profile, amazing notes, and reviews if possible.

(58) Call all local title companies
Call them up and announce yourself. Call them every month to remind them that you are good, and that you want to work.

(59) Get on the list of all nationwide signing companies.
Fill out the paperwork each signing company requires ahead of time. Make it a best practice to be on as many company’s lists as possible.

(60) Read notary blogs
The more you know, the more impressive and knowledgeable you will be. Know as much as possible to be the best that you can be. 123notary has an interesting Facebook, Linked in and Twitter profile as well. The more you read, the more you know!

(61) Don’t lie about your number of signings
Keep a count. Look them up in your journal. When someone asks you how many signings you have done, don’t ramble about how many years you have been in business. Nobody wants to hear that. Tell them how many you did. 1012 signings, plus there will be another one tonight! Don’t tell them you did two yesterday and three the day before. Nobody has patience to hear you count. Don’t think — KNOW!

(62) Guarantee your work
If you goof, go back and do it again for free. Make this a policy.

(63) Send complete bills regularly.
You need to know exactly what information goes on the invoices you send out. Name of borrower, loan number, address, date of signing, name of lender, etc. Bill regularly and keep good records, including the CHECK # of incoming checks. Otherwise you won’t get paid.

Tweets:
(1) Is it legal to notarize a hand-written document? What if there are cross outs?
(2) Blanks in documents? Put a line through it buddy!
(3) It is illegal to use your seal on a blank piece of paper. Yet jails usually require this! (cross it out)
(4) Notary topics: Hand-written docs, Blanks in docs, seal over wording, loose certificates, overseas docs.
(5) Don’t go to houses that smell bad #mobilenotary
(6) Notary contracts, fees at the door, background screening signing co’s, call Title if not paid on time.

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You might also like:

Notary Public 101 – a free notary course
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19493

The 30 Point Courses – a free loan signing course
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14233

Notary Marketing 102 – a free marketing course for Notaries
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19774

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January 19, 2011

Phone interaction tutorial

Some notaries wonder why they are not getting any good Title companies to work with them. When we call some of these notaries up, we see within seconds why they are not popular. First, the way some people answer the phone is horrendous.

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Bad phone answering skills

“Hullo?”.

Do we have to guess who we are talking to? Or should we introduce your next assignment to your son because you forgot to announce yourself over the phone and we can’t tell you apart from your son?

Do your children answer your phone? Big no-no. How about your spouse? If you are a husband and wife team, that is understandable, but you still need separate cell numbers and you still need to let us know who you are when we call you. Otherwise we have to ask.

Title: Hi this is Marg from XYZ Title, may I speak to Susan please
Susan: (abruptly) WHO is this?
Title: I think I introduced myself very clearly — this is Marj from XYZ Title, may I speak to Susan please
Susan: Okay
Title: Okay, are you Susan?
Susan: Yes it is

Title: You made me work very hard just to try to decipher who you were. Are you going to be this difficult working with? I had to repeat who I was twice while you evaded announcing who you were. I am not the only person who needs to give information around here, especially if I am paying. I will call someone else. Thanks.

It is very rude to make someone repeat who they are before you reveal your secret information about who YOU are. If you are rude to Title companies, they have plenty of other inexperienced and unprofessional notaries to choose from.

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Background noise

Is there background noise when you answer the phone? Are there screaming children or other noise. You should apologize about the noise as soon as you can and move out of the noisy area. Otherwise, nobody will have patience for you.

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Someone else answering the phone?

If you are in business for yourself, it is extremely unprofessional to have someone else answering the phone for you. However, if they introduce themselves professionally and can carry on a professional sounding conversation, it might be tolerated. The worst thing you can do is to have a busy-body answer your phone for you who pushes their unwanted helpfulness on a caller.

Title: Hi, this is Marg from XYZ Title, may I speak to Susan please
Fred: Susan is not here, but I can help you.
Title: Thanks for your offer Fred, but I would like to Speak to Susan please, and I clearly requested that I wanted to speak to Susan
Fred: Can I help you with something? I can do everything that Susan can do
Title: You are being a bit pushy Fred. I am calling for Susan. I do NOT wish to conduct my business with someone other than Susan.

Please notice how Fred is offering unwanted help and trying to push it down Susan’s unwilling throat. This happens a lot when I call people. They don’t take no for an answer and get in trouble with me as a result for rudeness.Notice how Fred didn’t once offer to take a message for Susan. He was pushy and very unhelpful in the ways that Marg might have wanted to be helped. What a headache.

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Asking people to repeat

Do you have other people keep repeating everything they said. Are you paying attention? Or can you just not think clearly, so to avoid having to respond to something you don’t know how to respond to, you ask people to repeat. If you are in a noisy place, or have a glitch in your cell coverage, you might apologize for the sudden static in your cell phone. Tell them that you heard the “I need you there at…. blank o’clock” part. That way they know you are listening and heard everything but the one critical word. That is acceptable. But, if you loudly say, “WHAT?” after everything the other person says, they are not going to hire you. Roughly 15% of our notaries are people who ask us to repeat ourselves multiple times during a conversation. It is very unpleasant and nobody is going to want to pay money to someone who is such a poor communicator.

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Unprofessional remarks and behavior

(1) Oh yeah, you’re calling about that notary thing. (are we in Junior High still?)

(2) I just got my notary. (you mean your notary commission?)

(3) I just got off the phone with the customer, (you mean the borrower)

(4) Annoying or harsh music on your answering machine is considered unprofessional too

(5) Not having your name stated on your answering machine is unprofessional as well.

(6) Not knowing your basic loan signing terms and procedures is unprofessional and dangerous

(7) Answering the phone only to tell someone that you are in a signing. If you are in a signing and can’t talk, then why are you answering the phone?

(8) Answering the phone to tell someone that now is not a good time to talk. Why not let them leave a message if now is such a bad time.

(9) Answering the phone and telling them that you already sent the documents back when you don’t even know who is calling. Do you ASSUME that you are talking to the signing company from that job that you are at right now when it is someone completely different? Dumb!

(10) I’m certified. (you failed to mention which entity certified you)

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Notes section

Most notaries do not include any unique information in their notes section. Instead they start off by talking about the least consequential information you can think of such as E&O insurance, background screening, and the fact that they are certified. Everyone on 123notary is certified by someone. It won’t get you ahead unless you have the 123notary certification icon. Indicating that you are NNA certified on our site will win you 0% more clicks since 90% of everyone else on 123notary is also NNA certified. You might as well say, “Hire me because I have two arms and two legs.”

Write about what makes you unique. Talk about your experience. Number of loans signed. Number of years as a Mortgage Broker. Specific types of loans signed. Do you offer last minute service? How many miles is your radius? Information that is unique to you.

The other notaries all claim to be dependable, reliable and professional, yet only 10% of them actually meet our standards for these adjectives so they sound phony. Do you sound phony? Talk about something that sounds REAL and UNIQUE. If you were a school teacher for 25 years, then you can claim to be good at nitpicking other people’s work and noticing all of their mistakes and everyone reading your notes will believe you.

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Tone

Some people just start out sounding unpleasant. Their words might be good ones, but their tone just doesn’t sound appealing at all. Talk to me on a bad day and I have tone too. But, some people always have tone. Try to sound pleasant when talking to clients or prospective clients.

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Arguing

Do you argue with clients? They want it their way. Don’t say, “Well I usually xyz”. Nobody wants to hear this. You should be asking them how they want it done? Would you like tomatoes on that? Now you are talking! Don’t accuse your clients of being overly demanding. Do they pay you? Then work for them and do what they want for the right price.

===========================

Vagueness & Rambling

Do you answer questions with vague answers?

Q. How far do you go?

A. Well, I usually cover Carbon county, but I might go to Hutchinson county if it is not too far in because my niece lives there and ….

Q. Lady, can you just tell me your radius in miles please without your life story?

A. Oh, well, it depends.

Q. Thanks for the help, I’ll call someone else

People in the signing industry are tired of this type of run around. Just answer the question the way it was phrased.

Q. Can you get the documents sent back to me tonight?

A. Well, it depends on where the signing is, because it is East of me, there is no drop box, but then if it is South, I could come around on highway 19, and then I could…

Q. Just tell me if you can get the documents back to me tonight… the signing is in Waxahatchie

A. Oh, well in that case, that is Southwest, so let me spend five minutes calculating while I keep you tied up on the phone… hmmm.

Q. Never mind, I’ll call someone else who can drop it in the drop box tonight.

Boy, what a hassle. This is not brain surgery here. Just say, “Yes, I’ll get it in the drop box tonight — guaranteed!”. And then do it.

=========================

Basically, we put up with a lot of unprofessional behavior. The smart notaries tend to be argumentative while the newer notaries often can’t function at all. Communicating is very hard for many, as they can not make a simple request without telling you their life story. Nobody has patience for this. People at signing companies deal with 100 notaries per day, and need their questions answered fast, and there is no time for nonsense. If you can’t communicate and do your job correctly, you will be sitting on the bench your entire career. It is not that difficult to be a notary. Just know your terminology and procedures, and learn to communicate effectively.

NINJA COURSE
In our Ninja Notary Marketing Course we will be teaching more on refined interaction skills, notes sections, marketing, analysis, higher level notary & signing skills, interviews with our best notaries, plus much more! Email us about our NINJA Course today!

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October 13, 2020

10 rules for negotiating Notary fees

Originally published in Nov 06, 2017

Many Notaries complain about how little they get paid. And then I complain about how little they know. The two tend to go together and the pay is not going to go up before the knowledge does. However, there are negotiating techniques that can help.

1. Let them name their price first
In a bargaining game, it is better to let the other person bid first. You can always raise your ask price if they don’t offer enough. But, if they offer far too much, you would never get it if you asked first and asked too low.

2. Start with a high ask price
If you ask for $125, you can always go down on your price, especially if the job is close or fast. You can ask how many pages, fax backs, and notarizations are in the package. If it is quick, then give them a quick price.

3. Never whine
If you whine about the condition of the industry or how low the fee was, people will think you are a low life. Professionals don’t whine. Professionals operate! So, if you are offered $60, ask for $85 and see what happens.

4. Decline the low-ball offers
If you spend all day working for peanuts, then when the good jobs come, you won’t have time. Decline bad offers so you are free for good offers.

5. Answer your phone
If you only offer when you are not in a signing and not driving or cooking or thinking, you will miss 80% of your calls. How can you negotiate a good fee if you don’t take the call in the first place?

6. Act professional
Try to impress them without trying to impress them. Most Notaries try to do a snow job and brag about how great they are. Seasoned operators don’t do this. Smart professionals will engage you in an intelligent conversation about the job, the industry and the state of the union. Ask them questions about the job, where it is, who it is for, what type of loan it is, and about their career and industry working in title or escrow. But, whatever you do, don’t talk about your zero percent error rate and how reliable and experienced you are — nobody can verify your claims and nobody wants to hear it.

7. Never say hello
Unless you work for an aloe vera companies, don’t answer the phone saying “aloe?” Answer stating your company name and personal name. It sounds professional. If you have screaming kids in the background that sounds horribly unprofessional. Have a quiet place to answer the phone and if you are in a noisy place, try to go to a quieter place and apologize about the noise. Just because you don’t mind noise doesn’t mean the title company enjoys barking dog and screaming three year old.

8. Talk about real life
Sometimes I talk to Notaries who tell the Title company that you can call me to clean up the mess after you hire one of those $50 signers. Over half my work is clean up work. That sounds real to title companies unlike all the nonsense about how experienced and knowledgeable you are which just sounds like fluff. Tell real stories about how you handled complicated situations that others might have goofed. Mention that split signing where you did some complicated manouver on the Acknowledgment certificate and how you went out to sign the wife at 3am because she could only see you at that time due to her busy schedule as a nurse. This is impressive and much better than fluff.

9. Negotiate timing
You can offer a better rate if they get you late after rush hour. They might prefer to just offer you more and get the job booked.

10. Double book and get a bad review
Yes, you’ll get bad reviews from this, but double booking makes sense. People cancel jobs all the time when they hire you, so why can’t you cancel a few jobs. If you book jobs tightly, the other person will cancel 20% of the time — at least. So, if you book a job for $60 and someone else offers you $150, you can ditch the first job and take the other. You will probably get a bad review that will last for three years, but you will have $90 extra in your pocket. It’s a dirty technique. Not recommended, but food for thought and great blog material.

11. Never let them see you sweat.
Appearing calm and collected are the way to go. If you seem flustered, that is bad. Oops, that was eleven rules and I promised ten. Okay, disregard point eleven and just use antiperspirant.

You might also like:

How to negotiate fees like a pro
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19198

Can you negotiate prices with SnapDocs?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16236

Notary Marketing 102 – Negotiating Fees
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19784

A complete guide to getting paid
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19794

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March 12, 2018

Notary Marketing 102 — Negotiating Fees

Filed under: Loan Signing 101,Popular on Twitter — admin @ 8:23 am

Return to Notary Marketing 102 Contents

.

As a Notary, knowing what you are doing, having a good advertising presence, and being reliable all matter. But, if you don’t know how to negotiate fees, you will crumble in this low-ball world. Here are some of the best negotiating tips in the industry from our top players.

.

1. Let them name their price first
When bargaining, it is much better to let the other person bid first. You can always raise your ask price if they don’t offer enough. But, if they offer far too much, you would never get it if you asked first and asked too low.

.

2. Start with a high ask price
If you ask for $125 or $150, you can always go down on your price, especially if the job is close or fast. You can ask how many pages, fax backs, and notarizations are in the package. If the job is quick, then give them a quick price.

.

3. Never whine
If you whine about the condition of the industry or how low the fee was, people will think you are a low life. Professionals don’t whine. Professionals operate! So, if you are offered $60, ask for $85 and see what happens.

.

4. Decline the low-ball offers
If you spend all day working for peanuts, then when the good jobs come, you won’t have time. Decline bad offers so you are free for good offers.

.

5. Answer your phone
If you only offer when you are not in a signing and not driving or cooking or thinking, you will miss 80% of your calls. How can you negotiate a good fee if you don’t take the call in the first place?

.

6. Act professional
Try to impress them without trying to impress them. Most Notaries try to do a snow job and brag about how great they are. Seasoned operators don’t do this. Smart professionals will engage you in an intelligent conversation about the job, the industry and the state of the union. Ask them questions about the job, where it is, who it is for, what type of loan it is, and about their career and industry working in title or escrow. But, whatever you do, don’t talk about your zero percent error rate and how reliable and experienced you are — nobody can verify your claims and nobody wants to hear it.

.

7. Announce your name when you answer the phone.
Answer the stating your company name and personal name and never say, “Hullo?”. It sounds professional to announce yourself properly. If you have screaming kids in the background that sounds horribly unprofessional. Have a quiet place to answer the phone and if you are in a noisy place, try to go to a quieter place and apologize about the noise. Just because you don’t mind noise doesn’t mean the title company enjoys barking dog and screaming three year old.

.

8. Talk about real life
Sometimes I talk to Notaries who tell the Title company that you can call me to clean up the mess after you hire one of those $50 signers. Over half my work is clean up work. That sounds real to title companies unlike all the nonsense about how experienced and knowledgeable you are which just sounds like fluff. Tell real stories about how you handled complicated situations that others might have goofed. Mention that split signing where you did some complicated manouver on the Acknowledgment certificate and how you went out to sign the wife at 3am because she could only see you at that time due to her busy schedule as a nurse. This is impressive and much better than fluff.

.

9. Negotiate timing
You can offer a better rate if they get you late after rush hour. They might prefer to just offer you more and get the job booked.

.

10. Double book and get a bad review
You’ll get many bad reviews from this, but double booking makes sense. People cancel jobs all the time when they hire you, so why can’t you cancel a few jobs. If you book jobs tightly, generally at least one of the clients will cancel 20% of the time — at least. So, if you book a job for $60 and someone else offers you $150, you can ditch the first job and take the other. You will probably get a bad review that will last for three years, but you will have $90 extra in your pocket. It’s a dirty technique. Not recommended, but food for thought and great blog material.

11. Negotiating on SnapDocs
You need to know how to negotiate if you use SnapDocs. The majority of Notary work (not the majority of the high paying work though) comes from SnapDocs these days. Their technology wins the game although their fees for using their system are a little exorbitant. When given an offer on Snapdocs by text, you need to turn the situation around.

Let’s say you are offered $60 for a job. Text them back saying I have signed “x” amount of loans in my career and “x” amount being the Purchase that you are assigning. I will accept the job and get it signed within three hours, but my fee is $85. Do you want a seasoned pro or a screw up? References available upon request.

There are Notaries who prosper on SnapDocs. Just not that many. And the ones who do well merit doing well with their superior notary and business skills. Negotiating fees will not get you far if you are an unskilled Notary or beginner. You are competing against 12,000 other Notaries (estimate) on SnapDocs who also don’t know anything. So negotiate only when you have a bargaining position.

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12. Stress Availability
As a Notary, there are a lot of others competing with you. If you are fast returning texts, answer your phone promptly and are available, you can get a lot more work. The other notaries are not so responsive. Let people know that you are available and can get the job done. That is a huge bargaining chip. And do so without sounding desperate.

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13. Be Willing to Talk
Many Notaries are unwilling to talk to others while in a signing. If someone calls about business, give them 90 seconds before cutting them off. You don’t know if what they are calling about could help you or hurt you. Not giving them a chance to speak their mind will be very frustrating. Many Notaries answer their phone only to tell me that they cannot talk. This is like opening your door only to slam it in someone’s face. It is better to answer and talk or don’t answer. Set a limit ahead of time. By being responsive and friendly, you will attract more business. If you think the job you are at is the only job, you are sacrificing your next job which might become a repeat client.

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You might also like:

What are mobile notary fees
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21383

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