Document Preparation

With the low rates this past year - I am not sure how many Notaries have refied and a signing agent came to your home. We did 3 last year - and it was quite educational - and it was nice to share experiences with each agent. These are some comments and/or experiences shared - comments as to your thoughts?

  • Preparation - one signing agent shared on her refi, the agent came to her home and the documents were already filled out and notarized. She commented to the agent that this was improper - and his reply was that his wife prepares all the documents for him so he can do more closings and make more money.

  • One signing agent did not even sign or notarize the documents, but picked up the package after we signed and said she will notarize, review, and complete the package when she got home.

  • Comment from borrower - after signing all the documents and notarizing - I put the packet in a shipping envelope and sealed it. I told them that I would be dropping it off on my way home. They were so excited as they commented “no agent has done this before, and it put them at ease that their PPI was not going to be violated or stolen…” (FYI - this is my practice for the last 20 years - except when there are fax backs.) FYI - I have had my identity stolen twice.

First I would like to say is “WOW” 3 REFI’s in a year? You have a generous lender. My bank requires either a full point reduction in rate, or $100 decrease in monthly payment to REFI from the previous transaction.
So here is my “thoughts” on PREPARATION: It is only “improper” if your state laws says it is improper. I will pre-fill out anything I possibly can “allowable by law” to save time in a borrowers home (especially during COVID). Signature and Seal is the only time I break out ink at the table. I have yet to know of any state that does not allow you to pre-fill an Acknowledgement or a Jurat (or fill it out after the fact). Now if “he” is the Notary, and his “WIFE” is signing his signature, then obviously a problem. This brings me to “part B” of this topic…You have already properly identified the signer and witnessed them sign the document. Does your state stipulate “When and Were” you notarize that document after they have signed it? The key here is whether or not the signer is due to receive a notarized copy themselves at the time of signing. Where does it state that you can not bring it back home to put your signature and seal on it if the signer doesn’t need it themselves at the time of signing? Like I stated earlier, you already verified the ID of the signer and witnessed them sign. Some states/situations don’t even require you to witness the signing part. (Just like some states permit a notary to act as a witness, and some forbid it).
As far as the shipping envelope goes? The majority of my work requires scan backs, but physics and logic tells me that just because one sealed the envelope, doesn’t mean one can not lose the entire envelope. In my opinion, docs are NEVER secure until you have a receipt in hand showing a change in chain of custody (which you can not get from a drop box btw).

In AZ you can pre-fill out the State - County - etc - but you cannot sign and seal until the borrowers sign in front of you and you have properly identified them and the information is in your journal. This signing agent did all - sign and seal before the closing.

Further - you must sign and seal after the signature - not when you get home or back to the office.

I very-very seldom have fax/scan backs. I am able to leave and take to FedEx or UPS - and I “always” get a receipt.

Further - what I find interesting - is that when you sign a contract with a Title Company and/or Signing Agency - it states that “no one” can see or print the documents besides you before you go to the closing table. So - is the wife of this signing agent in violation or his wife? (curious as to your response)

Thank you - I really appreciate your response!

Hi Ms. Smith, It depends on his business structure. If he has his wife legally recorded as a “legit” partner or employee, then I would say she has privilege’s to view the docs. But whether she is or is not such, she definitely should not be signing or stamping on his behalf regardless. If she has no affiliation to his business (IF he/they even have one), then I concur, she should be no where near the docs.

I think it is advisable to give the best service possible, fulfilling the requirements of the state, the lender, the title company and the signing company, if used. Many customers require us to follow the standards of the certified signing agent program. Although the program was never implemented it did contain guidelines for the witnessing and notarization of documents and some companies require us to conform to the standards. As far as I know, they require us to sign and seal in the presence of the signers. The other entries can be prepared before the closing. If this were not true, the standard notary acknowledgment prepared by most lenders would not be valid, since it was printed on the mortgage document by the lender.