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From e-docs to e-Signings: paperless closings

Services for Real Estate Pros with Mobile Notary Services

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. 

laser printer, paper, and tonerRegardless 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

email attachment - closing documentsThen 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.

computer mouseInstead 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

eSigning equipment - laptop computer, wireless modem, mouseThe 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.




Janice Roosevelt
Keller Williams Brandywine Valley - West Chester, PA
OICP ABR, ePRO,Ecobroker

Grat information, I'm going to look into this further

May 02, 2009 08:05 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I have been using Docusign for some time, but that is not notarized.

May 02, 2009 08:12 AM
Leon Austin
Mobile Notary Services - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Mobile Notary

Janice, thank you.

Gene, that is the next step -- notarizing electronic documents.  For now, the documents that require notarization are still printed on paper and notarized in the traditional manner (ink stamp or embosser).  However, there will come a time, I believe, when all of the loan documents will be signed and notarized electronically -- totally eliminating the need for paper documents.

May 02, 2009 08:27 AM
Vickie McCartney
Maverick Realty - Owensboro, KY
Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY

Hi Leon~ I am actually looking forward to when all transactions are paperless.   It will certainly simplify all transactions.  I would love to do it, but not really sure where to start!

May 02, 2009 08:37 AM
Gail Szeluga
Weichert Realtors-Marlboro, Manalapan - Manalapan, NJ
Manalapan, Marlboro & Monmouth County

Leon,  I recently got my notary and am procrastinating finding a service to work with. I hadn't thought of a laser printer, let alone a laptop. Will I need to get one of those internet access cards from my wireless provider for when people don't have wireless in their homes?

May 02, 2009 09:10 AM
Jean Joh
8z Real Estate - Millbrae, CA
SF Peninsula RE Specialist

Hi Leo, it'll be great when we can get to this point.  My clients signed loan docs a couple weeks ago, and the notary was 2 hours late b/c of problems with getting all the paperwork to print out.  Thankfully, everything turned out okay in the end, but that was a little harrowing for everyone - I'm sure especially so for the notary.

May 02, 2009 09:16 AM
Leon Austin
Mobile Notary Services - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Mobile Notary

Vickie, it would be nice if we could go entirely paperless.  Hopefully it won't be long.

Gail, if the borrowers don't have wireless, yes, you will need to be able to access the internet using your laptop computer.  But paper signings are still here, and will be for a long time.  So go ahead and invest in a good laser printer.  You'll get a lot of use from it.  I wish you success as a notary.

Jean, sorry to hear about the delay with the closing.  Printing problems do occur.  It's good that everything turned out okay.


May 02, 2009 12:04 PM
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

There will always be some clients for whom e-signing won't ever work -- some people just feel more secure with paper.

May 02, 2009 12:54 PM
Leon Austin
Mobile Notary Services - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Mobile Notary

"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."


May 03, 2009 04:37 PM