Signing Agent Common Mistakes to Avoid

Subordination Agreement

This is the most common document that notary signing agents do not realize needs to be signed by the borrower and notarized. This is typically because the lender either signs it first, using the preprinted acknowledgment, or there is no notary acknowledgment place on the form.

In both of these cases, you must attach your own notary acknowledgment to the Subordination Agreement. Look over the document carefully because there is a place for the borrower to sign: many times it is just a blank line without their name. You cannot notarize it if the borrower does not sign it.

All documents which need to be recorded must be signed and notarized: Grant Deed, Deed of Trust, Trust Certification, Subordination Agreement, etc.

Never use whiteout on any loan documents. To make a correction, just cross out the incorrect information with a single line and put in the correct information.

Incorrect Signatures

The borrower’s signature needs to match their name as it appears on the loan documents. For example, if the borrower’s name appears on the loan documents as Harry L. Houdini Jr., their signature needs to read Harry L. Houdini Jr.

Trust Signatures

If the loan documents are drawn under a trust, the signature should include the word “Trustee.”

For example: Mary E. Smith, Trustee.

Power of Attorney

If the loan documents are being signed with a power of attorney, the borrower should have received instructions telling them how to sign their name.

Their signature will usually read: Mary A. Smith by John T. Smith, his/her attorney in fact.

Their initials would then be MAS by JTS, her AIF.

If you have questions about how the borrower should sign, do not hesitate to call the signing service for exact instructions. It is the signing service’s job to inform you and the borrower how the loan documents should be signed.

Missing Signatures

Before you leave the signing location, doublecheck that each document is signed, initialed, and dated where required.

Sometimes the borrower’s name will not appear on a line that they still need to sign. Instead, the signature line might read borrower, applicant, seller, mortgagor, etc. Scan each document to see if it needs a signature, or if initials are needed in the body of the document or at the top.

If the loan documents are not signed correctly the first time, they will have to be resigned at your expense.

Acknowledgments and Jurats

These are typically pre-printed on the required loan documents. Incorrect or missing notary acknowledgments or jurats can and will happen from time to time in a document set. You should always have a supply of acknowledgment and jurat certificate sheets with you. Most mistakes happen when signing agents fill out these certificates prior to the loan signing.

Mistakes on an acknowledgment or jurat can cause serious delays and be very costly. Double check your completed acknowledgment and jurat forms in the loan documents before leaving the signer’s house and again double check just before delivering the documents or shipping the documents.

Be sure you have initialed any changes made to an acknowledgment or jurat you completed in the loan documents.

Make sure your stamp is perfectly clear and readable. An acknowledgment cannot be recorded if your seal impression is unclear. The seal image, your name, commission number, and expiration date need to be clear and easy to read. Additionally, an acknowledgment cannot be recorded if the stamp covers any lettering on the document.

If your stamp image is unclear, draw a single line through the bad impression and initial your strike out. If there is room on the page, stamp your impression again. If there is no room on the page, attach a completed loose acknowledgment sheet to replace the mistake. The acknowledgment should have no blank spaces.

Double-check that you have the proper venue where you conducted the signing, the correct date, that your name and title are printed after the “before me,” and that the signer’s names are printed after the “appeared before me,” exactly as their names appear on the document. Lastly, check that your signature is on the notary signature line, and that you have stamped the acknowledgment.

If a document needs to be notarized and there is no room or space on the form that has been used, simply attach a separate completed acknowledgment or jurat.