One of the primary tools of a notary signing agent is a laser printer (and lots of paper). It's how we get the loan documents printed for closings. The method of delivering the documents may vary. Most of the time they are sent to us as email attachments. Sometimes we have to log in to a secure website to download them.
Regardless of how we receive the documents, the end result is the same:
The closing documents must be printed to paper so that the borrowers can sign them.
Notary signing agents didn't always require a laser printer to get the job done. There was a time when the documents were sent to the notary signing agent via overnight delivery (i.e. FedEx, UPS). Or they would be sent directly to the borrower.
The emergence of e-docs
Then came the shift to requiring the notary signing agent to print the loan documents themselves. If notary signing agents wanted to continue to do loan closings, they would need to invest in a laser printer. And they needed to learn how to print the documents.
The name that is associated with this process of delivering documents is 'e-docs' (or 'edocs') -- short for 'electronic documents'. Instead of receiving a package of paper documents, the notary signing agent receives the loan documents in digital format.
Regardless of whether the documents are sent via overnight delivery or sent as e-docs, the end result remains the same: paper. Lots and lots of paper.
Electronic documents take on a new meaning
There is a shift occuring that is revolutionizing the way notary signing agents conduct remote closings. Notary signing agents still need laser printers to print documents. But we are now being asked if we have a laptop computer and wireless modem. The reason: loan closings are going paperless. And the way that we access the loan documents will be via the internet.
Instead of signing paper documents with an ink signature, borrowers view the documents on a computer screen and sign them with an electronic signature.
'Sign here.' is being replaced with 'Click here.'
Once again, notary signing agents find themselves at a crossroad. At first they needed to invest in a laser printer. Now they will need to invest in a new technology -- one that will enable them to take advantage of this new way of doing loan closings.
This morning I came across the article: FHA Preparing Electronic Loan Specifications, Bank Technology News, by Anthony Garritano, April 8, 2009
From the article:
"We know we need to work in a paperless environment, ... Our goal is to receive all mortgage documents electronically and update FHA systems with all required information so that manual input of information by lenders is not required." - Jo Ann Kuczma, director of the home mortgage insurance division at FHA
The writing is on the wall -- in digital format.
Notary signing agents are going to receive more and more requests to do eSignings. This doesn't mean that we can toss out our laser printers which have served us well for so many years to do e-docs. But there is a new type of 'e-docs' on the horizon, and we have to place ourselves in a position to take advantage of this new way of doing loan closings.
For more information, see the eSigning section on my website.