How to Become a Notary Signing Agent
To become a notary signing agent, you need to follow these general steps:
1. Become a notary: If you are not already a notary public, you’ll need to become one. Check your state’s notary commissioning requirements, which often involve completing an application, paying a fee, and taking an educational course or passing an exam. Some states require taking a background check and an oath of office.
2. Complete a signing agent training course: While not all states require specific training for notary signing agents, it is highly recommended to undergo signing agent training to gain a better understanding of the loan signing process and industry best practices. Several organizations offer online and in-person courses for aspiring signing agents.
3. Purchase Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance: Errors and Omissions insurance is a type of liability insurance that provides coverage for notarial errors or mistakes made during the loan signing process. Many lenders and signing services may require you to have E&O insurance before hiring you.
4. Pass a background check (if required): Most signing services require notary signing agents to undergo a background check as part of their certification process.
5. Obtain necessary equipment: As a notary signing agent, you’ll need a notary seal/stamp, a journal to record notarial acts, a reliable printer, and a computer or tablet for document handling.
6. Network with signing services and lenders: Build connections within the industry by reaching out to signing services, title companies, and lenders. They often hire signing agents for loan closings and may have opportunities for you.
7. Gain experience: As with any profession, experience can be valuable. Consider taking on loan signings through signing services or networking opportunities to build your experience and reputation as a reliable signing agent.
8. Stay up-to-date: Keep yourself informed about changes in notary laws and regulations, as well as industry trends and best practices.
Remember that the specific requirements and steps to become a notary signing agent can vary by state, so it’s essential to research your state’s specific guidelines and consult your state’s notary regulating authority for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Additionally, consider joining professional organizations or associations for notary signing agents to access valuable resources and support throughout your career.
What is a signing agent?
A signing agent is a notary who specializes in loan document signings. Notary signing agents help new homeowners execute their mortgage loan documents. Signing agents have a working knowledge of the loan signing business and the varied documents found in loan document packages.
What do signing agents do?
Signings agents help borrowers execute their loan documents. Signing agents are responsible for ensuring that loan documents are completed and returned to the signing service.
Notary Signing Agent Responsibilities
1. Document Review and Preparation: As a signing agent, you’ll need to review loan documents, contracts, and other legal paperwork related to real estate transactions or loans. You might need to prepare the documents for the borrowers’ signatures.
2. Facilitating Signings: You’ll schedule appointments with borrowers to guide them through the process of signing documents. This might involve meeting them in person, explaining the purpose of each document, and ensuring they understand what they’re signing.
3. Notarization: Many documents require notarization. As a signing agent, you’ll need to be a commissioned notary public and follow the necessary notarization procedures to verify the authenticity of the signatures.
4. Witnessing: Some documents require witness signatures in addition to notarization. You might be responsible for witnessing the signing process and notarizing the documents.
5. Accuracy and Attention to Detail: Ensuring accuracy in document execution and notarization is critical to avoid legal issues down the line. Mistakes can have serious consequences.
6. Timeliness: Meeting deadlines is important in real estate transactions, so being punctual and efficient is crucial to your role.
7. Communication: Effective communication with borrowers, lenders, title companies, and other parties involved in the transaction is vital to ensure a smooth process.
Signing Agent Training and Certification
What is a certified signing agent?
A certified signing agent has taken a signing agent training course and received a course completion certificate. This certificate proves to signing services that a signing agent is competent at handling loan signing documents, and performing loan signings.
Almost all signing services require signing agents to have completed a signing agent training course.
What’s included in the signing agent training course?
The signing agent training course is the easiest, fastest way to learn how to perform loan signings. This course teaches you the how, what and why of the loan signing industry. After passing the certification exam (included), you will have immediate access to your notary signing agent certificate. Additionally, you will have one year of access to the course, so you can come back and refresh as needed.
Signing Agent State Restrictions
Most states only require that a signing agent has a valid notary commission. However, some states have additional restrictions for signing agents. These state requirements may restrict notary signing agents from performing loan document signings. For more information, see Signing Agent State Restrictions.
Signing Agent Supplies
Do signing agents need a background check?
Most signing services require signing agents to have a background check.
Do signing agents need a bond?
Notaries in most states are required to have a bond filed with their state. Whether or not a notary works as a signing agent does not influence the notary bond requirement.
The most important notary supplies are a notary stamp, a smartphone, notary E&O insurance, and access to a printer. We strongly suggest that you get these tools first when starting as a mobile notary signing agent. All the other signing agent tools can come as you gain capital. You will find that it doesn’t cost a lot to get your signing agent business going.
Printer: Many lenders will not accept documents printed by an inkjet printer, because they print too slowly and the ink does not permanently bind to the paper. We recommend a Laser/LED Multi-Function Center (MFC) with Full Duplex capability and Networking. A Brother printer that can copy, fax, scan, and has duplex (double-sided) print capability with two paper trays is best. This way you can print both letter and legal-size paper without changing paper in the printer tray.
Notary Journal: A notary journal is not required by law in all states. We highly recommend keeping a notary journal to help protect yourself from potential legal action.
Blue and Black Pens: Most loan documents will need to be signed in black ink; however, some companies will require blue ink. The Signing Service or Title/Closing Company will inform you of this requirement. If the ink color is unspecified, always default to black ink.
Notary Tax and Expense Log: It is absolutely essential that a Notary Signing Agent keeps a record of any money they make from Title/Closing Companies and Signing Services, since they will not take taxes out of whatever payments they issue. It is up to the Notary Signing Agent to report their earnings to their state and the IRS.
Notary Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance: A notary bond is required in most states, however, a notary surety bond does not protect the Notary. Notary E&O insurance is required by most signing services.
Sticky Notes: Sticky notes are used to mark errors on the loan documents without altering the loan documents unless explicitly okayed by the signing service to do so.
Notarial Certificates: A good notary signing agent always knows when a notarial certificate is needed (hint: when the required wording isn’t present or the document doesn’t have enough room for your stamp). A notary public should always have a supply of acknowledgement and jurat certificates.