How do you negotiate

When prompted via text to do a signing the price was $85 an the location was 45 minutes away. I negotiated $150. They took it down and rescheduled and posted $110. I responded with $125. Nothing. Then when called I was told $100, but for some reason I didn’t continue the fight for my right to party and just accepted it. :pensive: I am still kicking myself. Then I see other notary actually get $160 and $150 and wondering what they said to achieve it?
Have you been lowballed fought and STILL lowballed before?

Yep. Happens all the time. ALL you have to do is a very quick, firm No. Don’t hesitate a millisecond. I think too many believe that leaving some room for negotiating further is the way to go. A profitable fee, arrived at with full knowledge of all stips, is actually better than haggling because you get what you require (not like or close enough) and they know they got your most reasonable fee…


Thank you I deeply appreciate the words of knowledge. Lessons…

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A late reply but an important topic. For some new notary signing agents, negotiating rates is a challenge. Before you start accepting assignments and before you even answer your phone, determine what it costs you to stay in business, then for heavens sake charge some more. None of us go into this notary signing agent business just to break even. And certainly not to go broke.

If it helps you, here is a suggested phone exchange when a hiring company calls with an assignment. If you are having difficulty negotiating, try it and see if how it works for you.

(my phone rings)
ME: Hello, this is Carmen.

HIRING COMPANY: Hello Carmen, this is Rick with XXX Signing Service (or XXX Title, or XXX Mortgage).

ME: Hi Rick, what is happening today? How can I help you?

HIRING COMPANY: We have a signing in your area tomorrow at 9AM and want to know if you are available and what your rate would be.

ME: (quickly checking my calendar) I am available tomorrow at 9AM. Can you please tell me what type of a signing is it and what the address is, so I can plug it in for mileage?
(Very often the person calling is not from Washington and has absolutely no idea how far it is from where I live to the actual signing location, so I must get specifics. The state of Washington covers a lot of territory and just because I live in Washington (Olympia) and the assignment is in Washington doesn’t automatically mean I will drive 6 hours one way to do a signing in Spokane. Or some measure distance on a map “as the crow flies” and will be completely wrong about how far a signing location actually is.)

HIRING COMPANY: Sure, it is a standard refi (refinance) with 2 signers. The address is 123 Cascade Loop, Finite, WA 99999. Thurston county. (fake address, of course. And if they won’t or can’t give a complete address, ask for street, city, and zip to determine distance) Loan documents are ready now. No scanbacks are required and it pays $xx. What would your rate be?

ME: (After determining how far signing location is from me using Google maps) Great! I am available and happy to help. My rate would be $xxx and I would need documents by close of business today. I understand if you have to get rate approval first. (If the rate the hiring company is offering does not match your rate, do not hesitate to counter.)

(Understand that the hiring company may have to get fee approval first before assigning to you. This is common.)
HIRING COMPANY: Yes, I would need to get that fee approved first, then I will get back to you, OK?

ME: (remain cheerful, positive) No problem, I understand. If you can get it approved in the next xx minutes, go ahead and assign to me and I will contact the borrowers. If it will be longer than xx minutes, then just give me a call back to make sure I am still available.

(Now Rick at XXX Signing Service may or may not get back to me. And that is OK too. It’s just business. The hiring company understands I am not sitting around holding my breath waiting for a callback. If Rick wasn’t able to get it approved, I understand he will just move on to the next notary signing agent. So if within xx minutes I see an email notification from XXX Signing Service that I have a new assignment, voila! I know Rick got my fee approved quickly. So then I quickly verify the fee on the assignment confirmation is correct and proceed to contact the borrowers.)

If it has been longer than xx minutes, I may or may not still be available for that 9AM signing when Rick finally calls me back. If I am available, of course I happily accept the assignment. If I am not available at that time, I always offer alternatives. I never just shut them down.

(Rick from XXX calls again, 30 minutes later)
ME: Hello, this is Carmen.

HIRING COMPANY: Hi Carmen, this is Rick again with XXX Signing Service and your fee was approved. Are you still available?

ME: Hi Rick, thank you for calling me back. (If I have already accepted an assignment for that time slot, I might say something like this: Rick, I’m sorry 9AM is no longer available, but I could do it at 11:30AM if the signers are flexible. Would that work for you?

HIRING COMPANY: Yes, that works. I am emailing your confirmation now. The loan documents will follow shortly.

(exchange thank yous and hang up)


Perfect example. Would just like to add that some will ‘try’ calling back and telling you “I can only go to (less than you quoted), Can you do it for that?” Only response is…Gee, sorry, but No. I really do need (whatever you originally quoted). Then shut up. Odds are they will take it, but, if they don’t, it’s still a win as you didn’t work for peanuts and you are still available for someone who will pay what you need.


I honestly just ask what the max they can offer is. If I like it, I take it. If I don’t, I ask for more. You don’t have much leverage because there’s always some desperate fool out there who will do anything for $2 and a beer and be happy. There’s this one signing service that always calls me for same day refinances with scan backs for $75 and they always act like they’re doing me a huge favor lol. I counter with $125 and they just move on to the next person. Eventually, some dingus takes it. Not my monkeys, not my circus.

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This negotiation tactic doesn’t work for me because it is limiting. If a hiring company tells me they are willing to pay $xx but my rate is $xxx, then I politely/firmly counter and tell them my rate is $xxx. Let them get that rate approved. Hiring companies do rate approvals all. the. time. If it is a signing service company who is hiring me, often the lender and/or title company is willing to kick in an additional portion, so cost does not fall entirely on the signing service.

LOL :rofl: :beers:


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If a company calls, they are either new, and don’t have a lot of notaries yet in your area, or their favorite notaries are busy. I ask what kind of job, how many signers, how far and any special stipulations. Some of them require scans and same day shipping. I also ask if docs are available. If there is something still left to iron out I quote high because I don’t want to be stuck with a multiple-signer signing packet with 200 plus pages and scan for $85. Even as a newbie, when you accept these rates you open yourself up to make mistakes and you drag down the value of our service. The mistakes result because you might need to take many signings to earn what a more experienced NSA will earn on the same day. More assignments means more stress, more pressure to make cutoff, more driving around and the dreaded scans that tend to jam your printer. No thank you.

Some companies appear to be reselling packages. A typical Title package has the amount allotted for Notary services. That amount is not meant for the notary alone or we would all be getting $200 jobs. There are other variables in that fee including the third-party scheduling company and I wonder if there is a margin for error, such as covering trailing documents. Not sure but even under the best circumstances with a two-signer refi or purchase in California, you will not earn more than $150. To ask for more from a third party scheduling company will likely mean you won’t get the job.

Sometimes there are special circumstances where a rate lock will expire or one of the signers is traveling. In this case, most companies are willing to give you a higher fee for travel, or late hour or dropping off at the branch instead of shipping. One company one time gave me a courier fee to drive the documents over, other times I didn’t get paid extra compensation for the service. Instead, I mark it as an extra trip to deduct the mileage from the fee.

Bidding higher, having it accepted but being given to someone else who hit the button faster is part of life. Sometimes, even more baffling is when you say you will do a job for X amount and they fly it for more and give it to someone else.

I have even made arrangements for a signer to meet me halfway (rather than the hour one way drive) and a second company took my arrangements and sold the job for a lower fee to another notary. It’s rough out there but roll with the punches and make sure you understand what your costs are before accepting a low ball fee.