How to Become a Notary Signing Agent

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How to Become a Notary Signing Agent

Many states do not have specific additional requirements for Notaries Public who work as Notary Signing Agents. However, title companies and signing services have their own set of desired qualifications.

  1. Have a notary commission in your state.
  2. Take a Notary Signing Agent Training Course. A notary signing agent certification proves that you have a foundational knowledge of the loan signing business.
  3. Take and pass a background check. This is required by most signing services and title companies.
  4. Most signing services require notary signing agents to have a notary E&O insurance policy. To purchase an E&O insurance policy, select your state.

What is a Notary Signing Agent?

A notary signing agent is a notary public who specifically handles loan documents, deeds, and other property closing documents.

What does a notary signing agent do?

  1. A notary signing agent has to check the borrower’s ID, and document it correctly. 
  2. Notarize documents.
  3. Briefly explain what a document does.
  4. Make sure the borrower(s) sign, date, and initial everywhere required.
  5. Return the signed and notarized documents to the appropriate party.
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Read below for: Notary Signing Agent Training and Certification | Notary Signing Agent Insurance | Mobile Notary v. Notary Signing Agent | NSA State Regulations | Notary Signing Agent How-To Guides


Notary Signing Agent Training and Certification

Is certification required to become a notary signing agent?

In most states if you are a notary public then you are a notary signing agent. However, most title companies and signing services that contract with notary signing agents for loan signings require a certification.

A notary signing agent certification is proof that you’ve completed a notary signing agent training course and possess a basic understanding of loan signing procedure and law.

Our 3-hour Signing Agent Training Course is the easiest, fastest way to learn the ABCs of loan signing and kickstart your notary signing business. As soon as you complete the course, you will immediately have access to your notary signing agent certification.

Notary signing agents are not required to take a training course or an exam.

A background check is technically not required. However, passing a background check is required by the vast majority of lenders, title companies, and signing services. This is a standard mortgage industry precaution to protect the borrowers’ private information.

Our partners at Notary Rotary offer a fully comprehensive background check for both notary signing agents and notaries public.

The background check that Notary Rotary offers usually takes about a week. Aside from that, it depends on how long it takes you to complete your signing agent certification course and feel ready to take on your first loan signing.

It depends on your state. Scroll down to see the list of notary signing agent state regulations.


Notary Signing Agent Rule #1

A notary signing agent should NEVER give ANY advice about a closing document. 

If the borrower asks you about an interest rate, or any other details in the loan packet, refer them to their lender. 

A notary signing agent’s job is first and foremost to verify the borrower’s identity, and ensure that they have signed and initialed in all the right places. 

You can explain what a document is about. For instance, if you hand the borrower a deed of trust and the borrower asks “What is this document for?” you can inform them that a deed of trust states that the borrower will repay the home loan, and the mortgage company owns the property until the loan is repaid. 

A notary signing agent can say WHAT a document says, but you should never say WHY a document says what it says. 

A notary signing agent has no opinions and no suggestions.

Learn more about becoming a notary signing agent with our Notary Signing Agent Online Course.


Notary Signing Agent E&O Insurance

Notary Signing Agents are almost always required to have Notary Errors & Omissions insurance. Few title companies and/or signing services require specific Signing Agent Insurance.

Only if you want to work with a title company or signing service that specifically requires signing agent insurance.

Most title/closing companies and signing services only require notary signing agents to have notary public insurance.


What’s the Difference between a Mobile Notary and a Notary Signing Agent?

A mobile notary works with a wider variety of documents than a notary signing agent. Both mobile notaries and notary signing agents are required to have a notary commission. Below, we break down the differences of each role.

What are the requirements to be a mobile notary?

A mobile notary must have a notary commission.

What do mobile notaries do?

Mobile notaries usually travel to different locations to meet with their clients. Notaries can charge up to the maximum fee set by their state legislation for each notarial service. Some states allow mobile notaries to charge for travel costs.

Where can a mobile notary work? 

A mobile notary may perform services in the state in which they have a notary commission.

What are the requirements to be a Notary Signing Agent? 

Notary signing agents must have a notary commission.

The only requirements to be a notary signing agent are

  1. Have a notary commission
  2. Whatever the title company requires

Many title companies prefer a notary signing agent to: a.) have passed a background check; b.) be certified to meet certain requirements for companies the loan signing agent works with; c.) have notary signing agent insurance.

What do notary signing agents do? 

Notary signing agents are hired by mortgage and title companies to notarize signatures on loan documents. Usually, the loan signing agent will travel to the signer’s location. In addition to being paid for notarizing a document, notary signing agents are usually paid courier fees for delivering loan packets.

Where can loan signing agents work? 

Some states have legislated restrictions on who can perform loan closings. See below for the list of NSA state regulations.


Notary Signing Agent State Regulations

Notary Attorney States are states which require an attorney to be present at, or involved in, real estate property closings.

Connecticut, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia are all notary attorney states.

Of course, the exact statutes differ from state to state. For instance, Connecticut bars an out-of-state attorney or a non-attorney notary public from performing most closings. Comparatively, West Virginia requires an attorney to perform real estate closings because these have been determined to be practice of law.

Indiana requires that “Any person who conducts a real estate closing on behalf of a title insurance producer or title insurance company in which a title insurance policy is issued or is to be issued must be a licensed Title insurance producer.”

Source: in.gov

See also: https://inbiz.in.gov/Assets/NotaryGuide.pdf

Indiana resident applicants must meet the following requirements in order to obtain a Title Insurance License:

  • Complete not less than ten (10) hours of instruction in a structured setting or comparable self-study on:
    1. ethical practices in the marketing and selling of title insurance;
    2. requirements of the insurance laws and administrative rules of Indiana;
    3. principles of title insurance, including underwriting and escrow issues; and
    4. principles of the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (12 U.S.C. 2608).
  • Obtain a certificate of completion from the education provider. This certificate is valid for six months, in which time the application must be submitted.
  • Submit an application and the $40.00 application fee either online at www.Sircon.com/indiana or www.nipr.com, or through the uniform NAIC paper application (must be mailed to IDOI along with a check or money order made payable to IDOI). *All license application fees are nonrefundable and nontransferable.
  • Pre-licensing education information is required to be submitted by the education provider. Approved provider courses may be viewed through www.sircon.com/indiana.

Requires a Title Insurance Producer License.

Source: https://insurance.maryland.gov/Producer/Pages/titleip.aspx

“All resident individuals requesting a title insurance producer license are required to complete pre-licensing education and pass the Maryland title exam. Work Experience can be substituted for course work for which the applicant will be tested. (Reference: §10-104). The completed Insurance Education Waiver Application / Affidavit of Employer must be sent to and approved by the MIA before taking the examination.

  • Effective April 30, 2013 applicants will be required to complete 20 pre-licensing course hours. Please note that this requirement is only a minimum, and an applicant may take or a provider may offer additional course hours.
  • Once the pre-licensing course is completed and a certificate is awarded, the insurance licensing examination must be taken within 6 months from the date of the certificate. If the examination is not taken, the certificate will expire, and the course must be retaken to qualify for the examination.
  • The examination results are valid for 6 months. If the candidate does not apply for the appropriate license within 6 months, the examination results will expire and the pre-licensing course must be retaken to qualify to re-take the examination.”

First-Time Title Insurance Producer License Application Details:

Maryland Initial Title Insurance Producer License Application

“To apply for a license as an Individual Title Insurance Producer, in addition to passing the Maryland Title Producer exam, an individual must:

  • pay the applicable fee of $54, required by Ins. Art. § 2-112;
  • complete and submit the NAIC Uniform Application Individual Producer;

submit a $150,000 Surety Bond or Letter of Credit; The bond or continuation certificate must clearly state:
– bond company and bond amount
– bond coverage period
– show the State of Maryland as the obligee
– duly executed by the principal/producer and bond  company/attorney-in-fact
* If applicant is an Independent Contractor, the Title Insurance Producer Independent Contractors (TIPIC) waiver form may be submitted in lieu of the Surety Bond.”

Notary attorney state.

Requires an attorney to be present or involved with the closing of a property. However, a notary public who is employed by an attorney or a lender may notarize a document in conjunction with a real estate closing conducted by their employer.

Source: malegislature.gov

“A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in the commonwealth shall not conduct a real estate closing and shall not act as a real estate closing agent; provided, however, that a notary public who is employed by an attorney so licensed may notarize a document in conjunction with a real estate closing conducted by the attorney and a notary public who is employed by a lender may notarize a document in conjunction with the closing of such lender’s real estate loans.”

The notary signing agent must possess a closing agent license.

A notary signing agent in Nebraska may not charge any ancillary fees.

Nevada state law limits the fees that a notary signing agent is allowed to charge. A notary may charge $15-$30 per hour of travel time, depending on the time of day, as long as the signer agrees to the travel fee in advance.

Certain companies may choose to hire only attorneys instead of instead of signing agents.

Notary signing agents in North Carolina may charge $5 for acknowledgements, jurats, and affirmations, and may not charge for any other ancillary fee.

Source: statutes.capitol.texas.gov

HELOC loans are contingent upon Article XVI, Sec. 50. of the Texas Constitution.

According to the Texas Administrative Code, a closing must occur at the permanent address of an attorney, a lender, or the title company.

Wrap mortgage loans have to be closed by an attorney or title company.


Notary Signing Agent How-To Guides


Notary Signing Agent Step-by-Step Guide to Loan Signings

  1. Receive phone call from (title company) who needs loan documents to be signed.
  2. Confirm where the loan documents are going. Is the loan packet going to you or to the borrower?
  3. Receive confirmation by fax or email from (title company).
  4. Check for special instructions from (title company) regarding the assignment.
  5. Verify required documents or copies of documents. These conditions are required for closing the loan before the signing takes place. The instructions for the loan signing will be faxed or emailed to you, or included with the loan package.

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  1. Contact the borrower(s) within 1 hour of receiving the assignment.
  2. Confirm the location of the signing with the borrower.
  3. If loan documents are being sent to the borrower, verify this with the borrower. Have the borrower contact you with confirmation when the loan package arrives.
  4. Let the borrower(s) know that all signers need to be present at the loan signing.
  5. Ask the borrower(s) if they received the Loan Disclosures, and inform them of any required Loan Conditions.
  6. Tell the borrower that a photocopy of their ID has to be sent back with the loan package.
  7. Call and inform (title company) that you have confirmed the appointment.

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  1. Show up on time. If you arrive early, wait at least 5 minutes before the scheduled time before going to the door.
  2. Suggest to the borrower that the prime location to conduct a loan signing is the kitchen or dining room table. This will ensure an easy, organized flow of documents going in a clockwise motion.

NOTE: If the borrower is a no-show, wait 30 minutes or the contracted amount of time before you leave. Leave a note on the borrower’s door saying you were there. Contact the title company and inform them that the borrower was a no-show.

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  1. Emphasize that you are the Notary Public, not the loan officer. You are here to witness the signing and notarize the borrower’s signatures as required. If the borrower has questions about the loan documents, you can ONLY identify WHERE they can find information.
  2. Never give the borrower their copy of the documents until the signing is complete.
  3. Give each signer a pen with which to sign the documents.
  4. Verify ID as per Notary Public state regulations, laws, and code of ethics.
  5. In your notary journal, log the borrower’s ID, and perform all other journal entries either before or after the signing is complete.

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  1. Be very careful – a Notary Public/Notary Signing Agent is only allowed to identify where the borrower can go to find information. Never give your interpretation of the loan documents.
  2. Don’t know the answer to a question? The best answer is always, “Please contact your loan officer with that question.”

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  1. Administer the correct oaths at this time if any apply.
  2. Go through the documents one final time in the borrower’s presence to make absolutely sure that all the documents have been signed and the proper documents notarized.
  3. Ensure you pick up all of your possessions, including the correct loan document set signed by the client.
  4. Give the borrower their copy of the loan documents and remind them of their three business day Right to Cancel.
  5. If the borrower asks how long until the loan closes, tell them to contact their loan officer.

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  1. Remind the borrower of their three business day Right to Cancel.
  2. Remind the borrower that if they don’t sign, they might lose the lock on their loan.
  3. Have the borrower try to contact their loan officer.

NOTE: Some title companies have emergency phone lines for this reason.

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California Civil Code section 1185 requires forms of identification as follows:

  1. There is reasonable reliance on any one of the following forms of identification, provided it is current or was issued within 5 years:
    1. An identification card or driver’s license issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles;
    2. A United States passport;
    3. An inmate identification card issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, if the inmate is in custody in prison; or
    4. Any form of inmate identification issued by a sheriff’s department, if the inmate is in custody in a local detention facility; or
    5. A military identification card (caution: current military identification cards may not have all the required elements);
    6. An employee identification card issued by an agency or office of the State of California, or by an agency or office of a city, county, or city and county in California.

This ID guide is specific to the State of California. Be sure to check your state’s ID checking requirements.

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Notary Signing Agent Guide to Loan Packets

REFI Packet

NOTE

Fixed Rate Refinance Loan

  1. Loan Amount
  2. Interest Rate (Fixed)
  3. Payment Start Date and Term of the Loan (15, 20, 25, 30 years).
  4. Monthly Payment Amount, which is principle and interest (P&I). They may have an impound or escrow account, which means that they pay their property taxes and homeowners insurance through the lender.
  5. Prepayment Most refinance loans have no prepayment penalty, which means you can pay your loan off at anytime without a penalty. Some loans have either a 1, 2, 3, or 5 year prepayment penalty.
  6. Late charges Most refinance loans have a 15 day grace period with a 5% or 6% late payment penalty.

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DEED OF TRUST

Mortgage or Security Instrument

  1. Have the borrowers check their names to be sure they are correct. It is very important to have the borrowers sign all the documents as their name appears on the Deed of Trust. If they are using a full middle name or an initial, they need to initial the document with all three initials (first, middle, last).
  2. Have the borrowers check the vesting which comes after their names. (Example: Husband and Wife as joint tenants.)
  3. Have the borrowers check the address of the property on the Deed of Trust and confirm it is correct. 

Most Deeds of Trust have a place for the borrowers to initial on each page, at the bottom right corner.

YOU NOTARIZE THIS DOCUMENT

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RIGHT TO CANCEL

  1. The first date is the DATE OF SIGNING. This date is sometimes printed on the documents and may be correct or may have to be changed to reflect the signing date. You strike one straight line through the incorrect date and write it in correctly. Have the borrowers initial by the date.
  2. The second date is THREE BUSINESS DAYS after the signing date. This date is sometimes printed on the document and may be correct or may have to be changed to reflect the three business days. You strike one straight line through the incorrect date and write it in correctly. Have the borrowers initial by the date. DO NOT COUNT Sunday OR LEGAL HOLIDAY.
  3. Borrowers Sign and Date. Be sure the borrowers DO NOT sign on the line that cancels the loan.

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LOAN CLOSING DISCLOSURE

Consists of 5 Pages

The Loan Closing Disclosure replaces the final Truth in Lending Disclosure and the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, and must be provided to borrowers 3 business days before the scheduled closing of the loan transaction.

Borrowers Sign & Date on Last Page

 

LOAN ESTIMATE

Consists of 3 Pages

The Loan Estimate replaces the initial Truth in Lending Disclosure and the Good Faith Estimate, and must be provided to borrowers 3 days before the scheduled closing of the loan transaction.

Borrowers Sign & Date on Last Page.

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ESCROW OR IMPOUND ACCOUNT

  1. This document reflects the amount of property taxes and homeowners insurance. The amount is collected by the lender monthly. 
  2. These items are paid by the borrowers monthly. They are added to their monthly payment. 
  3. The Lender pays the property taxes twice a year and the homeowners insurance once a year. 
  4. These are added to the Principal and Interest (P&I) from the NOTE and are totaled on this document. This is referred to as the Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance (PITI) which some like to refer to as the total monthly payment. (You can check for the existence of impounds on the “Loan Closing Disclosure.”)

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NOTE VARIATIONS

ADJUSTABLE RATE NOTE

Adjustable Rate Notes are sometimes a FIXED/ADJUSTABLE NOTE. This type of loan is fixed for a period of time and then changed to an adjustable rate. Most of the time these are given to borrowers that have a credit problem and can only get an adjustable rate note. For example, they may have a 2 year fixed and are planning to convert over to a fixed rate loan over the 2 years period. 

2nd MORTGAGE LOANS

This type of loan is a second loan in addition to the 1st Mortgage. It can be for an addition, revision, landscaping or even a pool/spa being added to the home. It can be a fixed rate or a variable rate loan.

TYPES OF LOANS (New Rules)

Purchase Money Loans, Refinances, Loans secured by 25 acres or less, Loans secured by vacant-land, Construction-only loans, and Timeshare loans.

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NOTARIZED

1. Deed of Trust. Sometimes called Mortgage or Security Instrument.

2. You may see other Documents; Grant Deeds, Quit Claim Deed, Inter-Spousal Agreement, Subordination Agreement, etc.

TYPICALLY NOTARIZED

3. Errors and Omissions, Compliance/Correction Agreement or Limited Power of Attorney. Most of the time only one of these is in a set of documents, but sometimes two are included.

4. Signature/Statement. This represents the standard in about 80% of the Loan Documents. But you may see other documents to notarize.

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