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September 16, 2019

Travel fees vs. Notary fees in your journal

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 11:10 pm

For those of you who keep a Notary journal, you need to record the Notary fee as one of the fields. But, what if you get paid $65 for a signing with a travel fee and two signatures? How do you differentiate between the travel fee and the signature fees?

You can either arbitrarily decide how much is a travel fee and how much is a signature fee if the job is a flat fee. Or you can base the fees on the fees you quoted the client.

When you fill in your journal, the main thing is to put a Notary fee that does not exceed the fees allowed by your particular state, otherwise you could be accused of charging excessive fees which is illegal. If California allows $15 per notarized signature on an Acknowledgment or Jurat, then you cannot inscribe more than $15 per journal entry for each Notary act.

For those of you who use the “cram it in” style of journal entries, you cannot put a notary fee for five documents on the same line. It just doesn’t make sense. This is yet another potent reason why you should not use a style of journal entry that inputs more than one document per line. It is impossible to prove in court that the signer consented to all of the documents being notarized since he is not signing for a particular one. It is also not possible to know what the fees involved are either which means you are not doing proper bookkeeping.

As far as the travel fee, you could input the travel fee for a particular appointment in the additional notes section of the journal entry and indicate that is is a travel fee. The travel fee I would indicate once on the first journal entry for a particular appointment. Correct and prudent journal entry procedure requires separate entries for each person and document. So, once again, three people each signing four notarized documents would result in twelve journal entries with the travel fee indicated in the top entry.

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January 23, 2019

What are Mobile Notary Fees?

The states decide what a Notary can charge for Notary services, but few states have rules for what a Mobile Notary or Traveling Notary can charge for mobile services and waiting time.

Notaries in most states (NV & MD have restrictions I’ve heard) can charge whatever they want for Mobile Notary Fees. There are many factors that determine a Notary’s fees. I will list these factors below. Rates generally range from $20 to $50 for mobile fees plus notary fees which differ by the state.

Experience
Notaries with experience typically set their rates higher. The fee depends on how desperate or arrogant they are. Rates can really vary, so shop around. But, realize that getting the best rate is not always the best idea because knowledge and experience count. Also note, that years of experience rarely translate into knowledge. Most Notaries are show offs and typically brag about how many years they have been doing this job. But, when you drill them on knowledge, you might find out they have about the same knowledge as someone doing this for two years who reads Notary tutorials and handbooks regularly. A word to the wise!

Distance
Notaries charge for distance. Some calculate distance based on miles, while others focus more on how long it will take. Others charge by what county you are in or what particular area you are in. It will save you money if you find someone close.

Time of Day
If you hire a Notary during the day, there are more Notaries operating, and the price is lower. If you want a Notary to go to a hospital at 3am, you might be looking at paying double or triple the normal fee. Sometimes the Notaries who offer 24 hour service will yell at you and ask, “Why are you calling me so late? Do you have any idea what time it is?”

Type of Job
If the job is a document signing or loan signing the price will be more of a standard price. Most Notaries do loan signings for $70 to $110 unless they consider themselves to be fancy in which case the price would be $125 to $175. Hospital and Jail jobs cost more because there is more involved, more legal risk, more waiting time, and the clients are normally more difficult. Additionally, since fewer Notaries will do hospital and jail signings, the price by default goes up.

Printing
If the Notary needs to print or fax anything the price goes up.

Waiting Time
If you keep an experienced Notary waiting, they will normally want to get some sort of compensation for their time. Some have a set rate while others have a very foggy idea of what to do if you keep them waiting. Try to be prepared so you don’t keep anyone waiting.

Legal Advice
Please do not ask a Notary for legal advice. They are not authorized to give any, and you will not get good information from a notary about legal matters anyway unless they are an Attorney Notary. Ask an Attorney who is competent and specializes in whatever your question is.

Document Drafting
Ask an Attorney where to get your document drafted and what terms to put in it. Notaries should not help in drafting documents unless they are legally authorized to do so which is rare.

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November 6, 2017

10 rules for negotiating Notary fees

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.

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March 12, 2018

Notary Marketing 102 — Negotiating Fees

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 8:23 am

Return to Notary Marketing 102 Contents

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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.

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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.

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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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November 13, 2017

Notary loses $4000 in legal fees because fraud adds name to Acknowledgment certificate.

When I was a Notary and was handed some other Notary’s work, I normally saw that the he/she/they and capacity(ies) that needed cross outs did not have cross outs. By omitting the cross outs you cannot know if the signer is a single man, woman, or multiple people. California no longer allows Notaries to verify capacity which leaves one less thing to cross out.

If you as a Notary omit to cross out the she/they on an Acknowledgment for a single man, someone could add another name to the certificate and get away with it undetected. Notaries can be extremely negligent and don’t get caught — usually. But, I catch them by the dozen every day and penalize them on my site. I throw hundreds of Notaries off my site for failing my over the phone Notary quizzes. And others stay on the site but I deduct points from their point algorithm results which makes it very hard for them to upgrade. You might not take doing your job correctly seriously, but I do.

And then the Notaries who take their job seriously, but have been doing it wrong for 20 years and think that their work is flawless. I will catch you. I will expose many things you are not doing or are doing incorrectly. Better that I catch you rather than ending up in court with legal fees for not filling out forms correctly. Being a Notary is not rocket science. There is no reason for such negligence!

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October 11, 2019

A notary writes — I would not cross the street for $60

Filed under: Marketing Articles — admin @ 11:24 pm

I apologize for my lack of information. But, in the Notary profession, nothing costs $6. Perhaps that was the extra fee for eDocuments, but that is what a Sprite costs at the Improv where I met that cool 62 year old guy who looks 45 who rides a cool motorcycle and lived in China before — so charismatic! I was impressed by him and let him know. The Sprite, not so impressive though.

In any case, one Notary wrote a response to a blog article — I would not cross the street for $6. My commentary is: What if it were a very narrow street. In that case I might cross it for only $3. And what if I were already on the side of that street when offered the $6. It would be no big deal, especially if I got paid for a return trip so I don’t go back with an “empty load” as the truckers say.

When considering fees for tasks, please consider the whole package and see if is the best use of your time. If you are offered $60 for a job, the expenses are $11.50 and the next best thing you can do with your time is clean your attic, then compare the intrinsic value of those two activities.

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October 9, 2019

Maximum Notary fee $5, but the signing pays $200?

Filed under: Notary Fees & Pricing — admin @ 11:23 pm

Each state has a maximum notary fee per notary act or procedure. Some charge by the signature, Florida charges by the stamp if I’m not incorrect (better look that one up.)

But, if you are allowed $5 per signature, the signing has four signatures, but pays $200, then what? Are you breaking the law? Or are you being paid for mobile fees and supervising fees? The truth is that you are being paid for a bunch of responsibilities within your service:

Printing documents
Confirming an appointment
Supervising the signature and initialing of documents
Answering simple questions (perhaps)
Not answering questions you are not supposed to (unless you are a know-it-all who is looking for trouble)
Notarizing
Waiting while people read or have long conversations by phone with the Lender.
Getting the documents safely back where they belong
Availability for after service.

All of those combined definitely merit at least $125, don’t you think?

So, how do you document this in your journal? $5 per notary act. Two people x two notary acts per person is four lines in your journal each stating $5 for the notary fee. And then in the additional info section for the first notary act of the set, put down you got $180 travel / supervising fee for a loan signing. Then it is all documented just in case the IRS has any questions. Notary fees are not subject to self-employment tax but travel and supervising fees are. Look it up in the SE instructions.

But, what if you live in California and the Notary fee is $15, you have ten signatures, but the job only pays $100. You could charge $150 plus travel for that signing, but your Lender or signing company isn’t paying that. Just put whatever you want for the notary fee between zero and $15 per notarized signature in your journal. And do a reasonable estimate for what the travel and supervising fees should be — just estimate and try to be proportionate.

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October 7, 2019

How often do you do a clean up job because Notary #1 botched the signing?

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 11:21 pm

Most of the more experienced Notaries out there have done clean up signings. It is amazing to see what types of errors the initial Notaries made. Forgetting to have borrowers sign, forgetting to have acknowledgment wording, or forgetting to cross out the pronouns. Sometimes it is missing initials, or missing pages. Many Notaries do not know how to date a Right to Rescind, and I find this out when I test them.

No wonder so many companies want you to fax every page to them. There are so many careless and sloppy Notaries out there. Notaries used to do better on my testing 15 years ago. Things have gone downhill and so have fees. This gives more work for people I call, “The cleaners” — sounds mafia.

What are the sloppiest errors you have seen while doing a clean up job?

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September 5, 2019

Would you accept a notary signing without a confirmation?

Filed under: Business Tips,Signing Tips — admin @ 10:59 pm

One Notary on NR asks the crowd if they would accept a signing without a confirmation? The fact is that without a confirmation, you don’t know what you are getting paid. On the other hand, the notary payment information might be on the HUD or 1003 or other document. That leads me to another point.

If the notary doesn’t get paid after the job is complete, but the fees are documented on the HUD, does that constitute Mortgage fraud since they cheated you based on what was typed in a formal Mortgage document? Hmmm. But, I digress.

Even if there is a confirmation, the actual confirmation doesn’t guarantee you will get paid. However, it has the names and the address, loan number and other pertinent information.

Back in my day (boy am I sounding old) I used to have a lady who would just ship me documents and I would schedule them on my own. The problem is that those would arrive as a surprise and I had no idea they were coming. I guess she trusted me. Maybe she was busy. I got them signed fast and they paid okay.

As a general rule it is better and more professional to have a confirmation. However, the bigger issue is to trust the company you are working for. And trust is a result of keeping very good records on everyone you work for especially issues such as: Do they pay on time, do they jerk you around, do they lie, and do their incidents of cancellations compared to completed jobs (ratio). That way you can compare the various companies and see which ones are schmucks!

If it is a new company hiring you, I would be more adamant about formalities. But, with a company you trust it is less critical. On the other hand when someone asks you to visit them at a hospital for a signing, they do not give a written confirmation, but you would still go out, correct?

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August 31, 2019

Travel fees if nothing gets signed

Filed under: Notary Fees & Pricing — admin @ 10:55 pm

It is common for Notaries to go to a job where the signer refuses to sign, or the job gets cancelled. What can the Notary charge for a travel fee since he/she/they didn’t “do” anything? The answer is that the most important aspect of this issue is not what you charge but what you explain over the phone. The client/signer needs to be painfully (the more pain the better) aware that the notary’s schedule is not for free and that they have to pay x amount of dollars even if nothing gets done as well as waiting time.

It is a generally prudent policy to get travel fees in cash at the door upon arrival before seeing the signer. This is because you need to be able to be impartial and have no beneficial or financial interest in a document being signed. If your $50 travel fees is contingent on Sammy signing the Affidavit, you will be tempted to notarize it even if the ID doesn’t match completely. As a Notary, you need to not be tempted to wiggle on state notary rules, and having your travel fee in your pocket puts the power and integrity back in your pocket. It’s hard to be integrous when money is at stake.

If someone gives you $40 travel fee which includes the first 20 minutes waiting time, and then keeps you waiting more than that, since you have the $40 in your pocket, you can demand cash for the next twenty minutes or threaten to walk. People will string you along in this line of work so it is important to keep the upper hand, or as Mrs. Meao likes to say — the upper paw!

The bottom line is that communication of signing fees over the phone before the signing is the most important solution to the travel fee issue. Fail to communicate — you might not get paid at all. So, communicate not only what the client will have to pay, but terms and conditions for what gets paid when and how much. Also, be careful with checks. Signers who cancel jobs sometimes bounce checks or stop payment. It happened to me after a very time consuming jail job. I bet Mrs. Meao would have something to say about that!

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