Do you accept tips or gifts from signers? What is your policy on a tip?

I have accepted tips, coffee money or just a little extra a signer wanted to give me. However, this is in my general notary work. When it is for a home closing transaction I do not accept tips. There was one POA issue where the signer said they did not want to sign the POA to the family member and did not trust them so I said this is your choice to sign or not sign the POA. You are under no pressure so if you do not want to sign you do not have to. As a notary I am making sure you are aware and willing to sign the documents. After this closing, the other signer felt bad and wanted to give me cash for my time. Since I knew I would get paid anyway a small fee for the no sign and because of the POA situation I did not accept the extra cash offered. However, the other week I had a signing that was difficult. Extremely well off folks, took forever, complex multiple layers transaction all in one, they called random people at the table for confirmations. The appointment took much longer than my average. I did not have an appointment afterwards so I let them make the phone calls to lender, to their tax accountant and so on. It was also the case where one signer signed first and then next one signed after because they were on duty working. Afterwards, the signer said I am so sorry and insistence over and over to take a large cash tip (the tip was as much as the signing appointment itself). For the trouble and their gratitude in this situation the tip was a nice gesture. Is there a policy notaries follow on tips specifically when working on home closings? Do you accept tips or gifts from the signers? I honestly do not know if there is a rule for these type of situations.

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Most state notary laws are vague or silent when it comes to the subject of tips, a good practice is not to accept them. However, if your state’s notary law is silent on the issue, the decision is up to you.

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Well I had a signing assigned to me this morning which was $80, was about 3hr drive and almost 300+ printing. I figured it would come out to $3.xx per hour. At that rate I am sure signing companies will put a tipping line for notaries too. And we would be expected to work for tips only.

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So, did you turn down the assignment? I wouldn’t do one with that many pages and that much driving for $80. Many times, with a decent explanation as to why, you can ask for more and they’ll pay it. But, you have to ask. And, if they tell you “no” then politely decline the job. Let someone else work for peanuts.

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Yeah I obviously declined. But their was a bit threatening tone with “we can assign it to someone else”. Finally my first company of not to do business with on my blacklist.

No! For that kind of a distance it should be at least $300 at a minimum! Plus additional $20 min. for print fee.

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Well the docs clearly stated notary fee to signing agency was 650. Plus other.

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I hope you didn’t agree to do that for 80 bucks

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So do you mean you accept it and then try and negotiate it when they call you? Because
If I try and ask for more at the first offer it just goes to someone else

No. Almost all of the jobs notices I get have a method to ask for more. I would never accept an initial offer and then ask for more unless there were unusual circumstances. There have been times I have accepted an offer and then asked to withdraw when the full requirements have been disclosed. For example, if I accepted an offer and then found out it was 200+ pages instead of the typical 120, I might either ask for more or to be removed from the closing.

Once you have enough closings and experience under your belt and the notary location companies know you are reliable and don’t make mistakes, they will pay more, if they can (they usually can). If it goes to someone else so be it.

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Hi Irina, I am in Washington State. It is a very nice gesture, indeed, but I personally would decline any tips or gifts offered by the signers especially for real estate signings, unless they were the ones who hired me to begin with. And in that case, I would not consider it a tip but rather a renegotiated rate which gets documented as income.

BUT if I have been hired by someone other than the signer such as a signing service, a lender, or a title company, then there is a contract between me and the hiring company and somewhere in that contract no doubt I have already agreed to NOT COLLECT MONEY from the signers, since my fee is paid by the hiring company. So then if I accepted tips or gifts of money from the signers, I would be in violation of my agreement with my hiring company. I risk being ejected from their hiring roster.

I did once accept a coffee to-go from a signer after the signing was completed (at signer’s insistence) but I don’t typically do that. And especially now with a pandemic, I thank them for their kindness and politely decline all food/beverage offers.

In the scenario you have provided, we can fall back on the guidance from Signing Professional Workgroup’s Notary Signing Agent Code of Professional Responsibility (#7 FEES): https://spswg.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/spw-code-of-conduct-2016.pdf (7.8 and 7.9 on page 17)

GUIDING PRINCIPLE 7: FEES
The Notary Signing Agent will follow all contractual obligations in charging and collecting fees for services rendered.

Standards of Practice
7.1. Confirmation of Fee in Writing
The Notary Signing Agent will confirm the fee to be paid by the contracting company for
an assignment to provide signing services in writing prior to the appointment with the signer.

7.2. Performance for Fee
The Notary Signing Agent will not refuse to perform services for an assignment that the
NSA has previously accepted in dispute over a negotiated fee unless the requirements for the
assignment materially change after the NSA has accepted the assignment.

7.3. Referral Fee
The Notary Signing Agent will only charge and receive the fee for rendering signing
services in connection with a transaction and will not accept, charge or pay an illegal referral
fee, rebate, fee-split, unearned fee or kickback.

7.4. Collusion
The Notary Signing Agent will not collude with other NSAs to set fees for signing services.

7.5. Submission of Invoice
The Notary Signing Agent will submit an invoice for payment to the contracting company
for each completed assignment in a form that complies with the terms of the written
agreement between the NSA and contracting company.

7.6. Invoice for Contracted Fee
The Notary Signing Agent will invoice the contracting company for the exact fee
negotiated between the NSA and company and will not over- or understate this fee.

7.7. Collection of Fee from Contracting Company
The Notary Signing Agent will not attempt to collect on a nonpaying account without first
establishing that the contracting company has failed to fulfill its contractual obligations.

7.8. Collection of Fee from Signer
The Notary Signing Agent will not attempt to collect the signing fee from the signer in the
event that the contracting company fails to remit timely payment.

7.9. Separate Financial Records
The Notary Signing Agent will keep a separate and detailed record of all fees received for
each assignment.

I am eager to follow this thread and see what others notaries have to say about their personal policy regarding accepting tips from signers.

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I’ll keep it short. It’s up to you whether to accept gratuities from your signers or not. Keep in mind you are not an employee; some company policies say not ask nor receive, but on the other hand you work for yourself. So…why the heck no!!!To me is them telling me you did an awesome job

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Since the majority of you are “signing agents” I’ll direct this to you. The borrowers/signers generally receive their closing disclosure (CD) several days before you arrive with the documents. By the time you show up the signers have been reviewing your fee and maybe questioning why they are being charged $250 for your services. Hopefully, this will give you some insight as to why the signers never offer a tip.

See if you really like my work just share my profile I’ll email it to you and tell them what a great job I did tell your friends and family.

As LindaH has commentated …This includes other fees added in to the notary fee. I’ve seen $450 fee on CD’s. That’s why I’ve pushed for the Notary to listed separately.

I’m interested, who do you push? Maybe a couple of you are getting a form of direct work from title companies that bundle their services but escrow companies list the notary accommodation fee as a separate item. When I bid my fee with escrow my name and agreed fee appears proudly on the CD. If that’s not the case then escrow is cutting the check to a middle person who could be a title company or a signing service.

I’m guessing that your state has a maximum charge for an acknowledgment and Jurat. That’s what you get paid for your services no matter how far you drive or how long it takes. With that in mind it obviously makes good business sense to also quote a mobile fee to cover all the unknowns. If you drove over to a strangers house and charged $20 for 2 signatures I guarantee every client would offer you a tip. Of course you would turn the tip down because you just needed an excuse to get out of the house till the kids got out of school. And that’s okay because notary service is public service.

I would never accept cash tips or any monetary value gifts like gift cards, event tickets etc. But I tend to chat with clients about their gardens! I have accepted tomatoes, fruits, zucchinis, Basil and flowers from their gardens:). They even let me climb on a ladder to pick my own gift:) :joy:. This is why I love my job as an NSA! It’s the wonderful people I get to meet everyday:)

Picking pears after a closing! My job doesn’t get better than this:) :pray:


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I personally would not accept a tip on any real estate signings. All fees associated with these files must be disclosed by law and I feel like tips to a notary is a grey area-not worth risking. Early on when I started I turned down a tip on a late night signing and then the SS owner called me to see how it went I asked about tips. She said “No way, the title companies get mad if you accept tips”. It’s probably a personal decision we each need to make.

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I had a signer literally shove a tip in my hand as I was walked out the door. It was late and a long signing. I chucked it in my bag not even looking at it… just thought oh she gave me a dollar. I get home and it was a $20! Oklahoma’s does not have anything against taking tips and I do believe it’s a personal matter. I know for us Okie’s if something is offered and it’s not taken we get offended. :wink:
I said that too say if it’s not against the law or our notary contract then just go by how you feel about it. :woman_shrugging:t5: