Disturbing Trend

I received an e-mail today from Notary ASAP telling me that escrow companies are lowering their fees to signing companies. In turn, Notary ASAP and other signing companies will have to lower their fees to us, signing agents. I am so dismayed by this trend that I sent the following reply to Notary ASAP and wish to post it here as an open letter to all signing agents.

"Hi Velvet,

Thanks for your forthright message regarding the desire of escrow companies to lower fees to signing companies, and therefore to signing agents. This trend is outrageous and disrespectful. While I understand the desire to lower fees to borrowers, cutting the already paltry sums that we are paid will not affect borrowers one iota. Instead, it will drive all of us who depend on this work into bankruptcy. The cost of running a business and of daily life has not decreased. Indeed, it has risen as the economy is gaining strength and inflation is a growing concern. While you may find that some desperate agents are willing to work for lower and lower fees, I for one, will refuse to do so. If you truly value our hard work and dedication, as you say you do, I urge you to stand your ground and push back against this attempt to devalue and disrespect our professionalism. Only when signing services, such as Notary ASAP, stand up to this intimidation will this ugly trend be halted.

Thank you,

Nick Lazazzera"

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Good for you, I started a new Category addressing this very issue entitled Notary ASAP lowering fees. It’s rude, but I appreciate that I know not to accept a job from them.

Nick, this is well appreciated, as a Signing Agent, I evaluate each assignment, and although Notary ASAP is advising of the reduced fees, we can accept or reject assignments. If more and more Signing Agents reject the jobs, I believe there will be no choice but re-evaluate their business model.

I have just asked to be removed from a few companies that want to assign orders to me, and its costing me more money than they are offering.

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:v:
Thank you, I too received this email and have extremely mixed feelings. First of all I work with escrow companies. They are NOT all reducing fees. The part I felt was the surprise was they are now being requested to have SCANS of completed documents with NO additional fee. Unfortunately, I can not afford this time and energy and will also have to decline… the SCANS tell us there are errors from those who are rushing, and not as detail oriented and reviewing as an Extra time to confirm we have no errors. I made a note to check the settlement and CD to see how low the fees have gone. All good Notaries can PROSPER.

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Personally, I think they are full of crap. Escrow companies usually just pass along the very nominal charges to have a business PROFESSIONAL do the work for them. I seriously doubt there’s been this move afoot to lower those charges by the escrow companies. What may be happening is signing services willing to take lower fees from the escrow companies are out peddling themselves, promising the moon while claiming to have the same notaries working for them as the more expensive services do. In other words, We’re Company B and we can do the exact same job as Company A, for less. Don’t work for lowball companies unless there really is a very compelling reason for it.

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Hello,

I also wrote back to Velvet and expressed the same concerns. Paying notaries less means more errors as we have to take more assignments and make the cutoff shipping times. More jobs means more chance for mistakes.
Recently I found out that one of my favorite companies is requesting free scanbacks. Clearly our time and effort are not appreciated. However, they wouldn’t ask for it, if there wasn’t a need.
I double check my paperwork and am astounded that there are still omissions that get past the first screening. This is partially due to the variety of documents that we deal with as it is rare to find two signings (even with the same company) exactly alike. Additionally, as most of us work late hours and weekends, you can not always find someone at title or the signing company to advise how to handle the situation. If you do not drop the package by cutoff, there might be a funding delay. We are pressed to give each package our best effort and ship, do or die.
After nearly two years in this line of business, with no benefits, long hours on the road, stress and poor pay, it is hard to take such further cuts in income. I truly feel being an NSA is ideal for someone who already has a pension and wants to get out and about a bit, but is not relying on the job to survive. At least in California.

Jasmin

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I have not been asked to lower my fees by any title/escrow companies that I work directly for or for that matter anyone else. This is most likely a ploy to get agents to work for less since they may be offering their services for less in order to undercut the competition… as someone else pointed out. Don’t do it…

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Notary ASAP was notorious for non payment anyway so I for one will not miss their business. Lower fees AND slow payment? No thank you! I blocked them a long time ago.

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FJS1966,

While I agree with your post, the fact remains that there are a lot of us who do this as our only source of income. Turning down jobs as a matter of principle is tantamount to cutting off our nose to spite our face. Although it shows my resolve to demand respect for the work I do, it also puts me in a position where I have to worry about how to pay my rent. It’s a “loose/loose” situation for me.

As much as I hate unions, I’m starting to think that Signing Agents need some sort of collective representation in order to show escrow companies what we’re really worth. I seriously doubt they are telling Title Companies they are cutting their fees, or reducing how much they will pay for a Flood Certificate. (Read frustration and desperation here…)

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Velvet can not know what other signing companies clients are doing.

  1. Fees are not being lowered from any of our clients.
  2. Fees were lowered back in 2009 after the real estate bubble burst.
  3. Escrow companies do bundle fees often, splitting the escrow fee and the notary fee. Escrow has a brick and mortar business so the lions share goes to the escrow company.
  4. Boutique escrow companies, have a higher notary fee, so go after this business as a signing agent.
  5. Go after lenders local to you,you might get the business yourself. And cut out the middle man of the signing companies.

I used to be a signing agent only, I said yes to everything I could and finally after about an year later I walked into a clients office and said, how to I get all your business even out side Southern California.
Each of you can fight any decrease in pay from some, by reaching out and getting your own clients.
Be careful however, dont go after your signing company clients as this will have you get blacked balled
go get your own clients, its not hard but might take a little time.

email me if you have questions, I can show you how to get clients of your own. lisa@c2csignings.com there is enough business for all of us. Dont be stuck just signing for a signing company.
but make it after month end.

Happy Month end everyone
Lisa

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You don’t need a union, you need better business. My notary signing agent business has been my only source of income for the past 11 years. During that time I have worked hard to find business directly from title companies so that I would not be “held hostage” by signing companies forced to take the pennies they choose to throw my way. Right now less than 5% of my business comes from signing companies, and I quickly say no to any company that does not pay me the fee I want.
Signing companies are middle men, we don’t need them, they need us. It does take time, patience, persistence, hustle, hard work and a little luck to get direct business from title companies, but once you get it you won’t have to worry about what signing companies are willing to pay.

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So… Do you have any tips on approaching Title/Escrow companies?

Check out my post here

Or This One

Or This Other One

However, you need to be an exceptional notary to get and keep good title company business. If realtors and signers don’t walk out of your signings saying something like “That was the smoothest / easiest signing I’ve ever attended” you might find it difficult to form profitable relationships with title companies. The bottom line is if you can’t make the escrow officers life easier then they don’t really have a reason to use you and keep using you.

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Jasmin, I’m in California and primarily do general notary work for the reasons you stated. The pay is good, I rarely print and my travel is most often under 10 miles one way. The best part is I am paid on the spot. I also do third party or direct client signings, but my fees are the same $15 per signature plus mobile fees, and a small charge for billing if required. I enjoy my work and it is not stressful. However, it is not my only source of income. If it were, I would definitely have to pick up the advertising pace! Currently probably half of my clients are repeat business.

In our Wisconsin area we are being hit hard with Reverse Mortgages, Debt Consolidations and now Courier type of work. Each person has an opinion on this subject. Not the issue.

I just started receiving emails from ‘attorneys’ that look like this: “In my first email I mentioned about my late client whose relatives I cannot get in touch with but both of you have the same last name, so it
will be very easy to make you become his official next of kin based on the basis with administration of letter appointment as he die without a written WILL.”

What alarmed me is that the trained notary will understand this is fake, the new notary might grab onto it. Please folks, be very careful.

I believe, due to the internet revealing my information, I’m being overrun by scam calls. Companies have bought a bank of cell phones and routing calls through that. It’s a daily process. Perhaps time to change my number.

I agree that the current trend is not good. It is not good for anyone. The Title Companies take a big risk in in having an inexperienced or inept notary going to a client. I would venture an estimate that the overwhelming majority of good notaries turn down these ridiculous low ball jobs. I live in a rural area where at least 95% of assignments require a minimum of 45 minutes drive each way on two lane roads. I always preview the signing docks before leaving my office to make sure that there are no surprises or missing documents. I always double check the docs before I leave the house. When I return to my office I need to finalize the documents and drop them off at the nearest Fedex facility or UPS which is 45 minute or 35 minutes from my office. I can truthfully say that I am working for less than minimum wage for these $50 to $60 signings. Then, on top of it all, I have my expenses: car expenses, printing expenses, business and errors and omissions insurance, state fees, and on and on. Starting in 2019 the IRS is getting tougher on small businesses taking losses and will be forcing these companies to use Hobby classification for their business. Therefore, I do not have the luxury of taking those low ball fees. If the IRS asks me why I turn down business, I will tell them that my business model is to make a profit. I turn down any jobs where I will take a loss. Everyone can do what they want. The signing agencies are not taking cuts in their “share” of the fee. Why should the notary public be taking those cuts?

I have to ask, as a notary public you are not subject to self employment tax on the notary portion of your job.
?

Notary fees have already reached bottom in my world. I get even lower fee offers all the time, they are like science fiction to me, I don’t respond. I receive $85 a signing usually, $90 rarely, $100 is very rare although that use to be the bottom a few years ago. I’m not surprised escrow companies are lowering fees. Believe it, they don’t care what we notaries think or have to say about it, newbies are waiting in the wings to grab the lower ball signings, experienced notaries with years under their belt be damn. I get it, I understand it, just the way it is. Cheers to all. :relaxed:

That is my understanding from my NC notary handbook… No Tax

mglatfelter makes a very good point about working for little or no profit and how the IRS views this (they consider it a hobby and will disallow deductions… and might ever go back to previous years).