In one of the topics I posted recently, ActiveRain member Jeff Link commented, "I am a Realtor and I also am a Notary. What exactly is a signing agent and what do they do?"
I hope that he didn't think that I was ignoring him by not responding right away. It's just that it is difficult to say what a notary signing agent is. It's easier to answer the second part of his question: 'what do they do?' And even that is difficult, because we do so many things.
The simple answer is that notary signing agents make it possible for someone to do the closing of their mortgage loan, whenever and wherever it is most convenient for them. Many of us work 24/7, which means that there is virtually no limit to when the closing can take place.
How does all of this happen?
Someone in Colorado can go online and borrow from a lender in California. Is it necessary for that borrower to board a plane and fly to California for the signing of their loan documents, some of which also need to be notarized, or to make a trip to a title company? No.
Instead, a notary signing agent will bring the loan documents to the borrower.
What usually happens is that I will get a call from the title company to do a closing. They email a confirmation with the borrowers name, address, and phone number, along with other information about the closing. They send the documents to me, most of the time in an email attachment, or they will provide a link to where I can download the documents from a secure website. I make a confirmation call to the borrower, print the documents, then go to the borrower to have the documents signed and notarized. This can be at their home, their place of work, or wherever it's most convenient for them -- any time of day or night. Afterwards I deliver the documents back to the title company, usually by overnight courier. If it's a local title company here in Colorado Springs I will personally deliver them.
The whole idea is to make it more convenient for the borrower. It's a convenience for the lender as well. Closings have even been done while borrowers were traveling on vacation in their recreational vehicle.
What are the limitations of notary signing agents?
As I'm going over the documents with the borrower during the closing, if the borrower has a specific question about the terms of their loan, I remind them that they will have to ask their loan officer, and that I work for neither the lender nor the title company.
"Well then, who DO YOU work for?"
Notary signing agents are independent contractors. We work for many different companies. It's not uncommon that I will close loans for 3 different lenders, from 3 different parts of the country, on the same day. Yet I represent all of them as if I did work for them.
Is the borrower's sensitive information safe?
Absolutely. Notary signing agents go to great lengths to secure the borrower's sensitive information. See: Guarding the borrower's information
How much money do notary signing agents make, and what kind of hours do they work?
One of the biggest myths surrounding this profession is that becoming a notary signing agent is a 'get-rich-quick' way of making money. That is far from the truth. Many prospective signing agents come into this profession disillusioned, thinking that they can quit their job and immediately earn a six-figure salary. It is not easy being a notary signing agent. And it can be very frustrating at times. Notary signing agents work very hard. It can take a long time to get established to the point where you can make a living at this. And those who are able to make a living usually work long hours. On several occasions I have left the office to do a closing at 8:00 a.m. and didn't finish the day until close to midnight. Very many of us make ourselves available 24/7, because we have to be available whenever it is convenient for the borrower. Sometimes I'll get a call to do a closing at 7 a.m. because the borrower wants to sign the papers before they go to work, or because that is the only time they are available.
This is an area in which notary signing agents can play a significant role. The people who are least able to leave their homes and travel great distances are the elderly. Many of us are trained to do Reverse Mortgage closings and have a lot of experience working with senior citizens. We take a lot of pride in serving these clients.
Speaking of training, what type of training is required to become a Notary Signing Agent?
Some of the types of training include seminars, training manuals, and online courses. Most of the knowledge that we gain is through self-study.
More information can be found in the topic: Continuing Education for Notary Signing Agents. If you are going to learn from a training manual, the one I recommend is the Signing Agent Training Guide, written by Kathy Poston. You can learn more by visiting the Signing Registry website.