How To Price for Beginner Signing Agent (New York City)

Hi everyone. I am new to the forum. My name is Sandra and I am a beginner in the signing agent arena and working on starting my signing agent business part-time. I am a internet business attorney by trade and have 9 years experience in mortgage banking ranging from Process Improvement/Project Management, Training, Management and day-to-day operations specifically in loan processing, closing document preparation and post-closing activities. My question for the group is what is reasonable pricing rates in the New York City (primarily will focus on Brooklyn and Manhattan area) for attorney/signing agents if using (1) a signing service OR (2) direct thru escrow officer, title companies, or real estate agent contacts?

You may be new to the signing agent business, but you also have an excellent background, so you’re not really a newbie. To answer your question: Honestly, it depends upon how much or little competition you have in your area as, sadly, hiring parties nearly always opt for ‘cheap’, so you’ll need to sell yourself. Even having said that, they also are inclined to pay more when they know they’ll receive a flawless signing. Do not believe that you can start cheap and later increase your fee. TC pays more than SS. P.S. I’m in AR with 25 years in this business and know nothing about NY.

Absolutely, I totally agree with Arichter never sell yourself “CHEAP”. As an entrepreneur, you’re knowledgeable and are offering a much needed service with integrity so in essence you deserve to paid well so go ahead and do the research for the highest fee in your area and good luck with your business.

Thank you so much for your insight. I agree in pricing competitively and pricing that is consistent with the service to be provided and not to mention accounting for the costs to run the business itself. Definitely should be worth the time, energy and quality I expect to deliver to clients. I appreciate your response and looking forward to getting started to leverage my knowledge and experience to create some additional income. Thanks again.

Thank you! I agree with both of you ladies. I appreciate the feedback and you taking the time to help out. Very consistent with legal services…its about the knowledge, skill and level of quality of service provided. Will keep researching and see the type of data I can gather to learn more about what fees are looking like in the NYC metro area. Thank you again.

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I send this to any assigner who tries to pay less than $100. I Expect To Be Paid Like the Professional I Am. (My minimum fee is $100 (within 25 miles of my office) and I will not accept less
Assigners, lenders, and title companies are putting the professional signing agent out of business.
The insistence in cutting fees paid for our services is driving the professional, caring, and efficient notaries out of business because we cannot meet our cost.
Gone are the days I could schedule two to five appointments per day because I got documents the day before the appointments. I was being paid an AVERAGE of $135.00 per signing within 25 miles of my office. Today, I’m hesitant to schedule more than one appointment as documents are not getting to me until I should have left for the appointment.
My cost are as follows:
A. Printing – paper, toner, amortization of printer, and seal 5.9¢ (average package 187 pages twice total 374 pages) = $22.07.
B. Car expense 50 miles round trip = 28.25 plus $15.00 amortization of the vehicle = 43.57.
C. The total is $65.64 excluding additional costs for fax backs and trips to FedEx or UPS.
D. When the fee is $65.00 I’M TAKING $0.64 OUT OF MY POCKET TO DO THE LOAN. Not included is the “cost” of my time to contact the client to confirm the appointment, time to print docs, travel time, time on site, and time for trip to a drop box that is usually way out of the route.

I’ve not included the costs of insurance, bond, background check, business cards, clothes cleanings because of the dog/cat hair, urine, house hold odors, etc. we incur.
If you are still reading, I am amazed how everyone else in the equation is more amply compensated for their time. Attorneys still make $250.00 to $350.00 per loan package. Title companies and lenders are making this or more.
As a consumer, when I request a service I expect to pay for it. Borrowers rarely take time off work to close their loan since we go to them on their time schedule. There is very minimal loss of time and convenience for them. Our fees should be, at least, the level of other professionals and paid by the borrower.
Nearly every package I receive (as well as do my notary friends) there is a statement that says something such as “Please note – we have been incurring a lot of notary errors and we are losing clients as a result. It is very important that you go thru ALL of your docs’ forwards and backwards, make sure all docs are stamped….” Guys, it’s blatantly obvious where the majority of the problem lies. A lot can be solved by a few simple steps such as

  1. Get docs to us the day before so we can review and tag the potential problem areas.
  2. Get the pay up to bring the truly professional notaries back to the business.
  3. When extra services are required (i.e. fax backs, trips out of our way to drop docs, etc.) pay for these extra expenses.

At the NNA meeting in Austin, Texas, everyone I was in earshot of was angered and insulted how “our” association allowed the title companies and lenders to get away with the responses of what was being done to improve the way we do business. It was disgusting and appalling. We left that meeting convinced that NNA was not our advocate and would not stand up for us with the title companies and lenders.
In summary, you want a professional job, you have to pay a professional fee and allow adequate time for us to get packages in time to really review them before we go out.

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Well said . If only we would all stand together and start refusing all these low ball offers.

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I had one this week that was interesting. Got a call for a refi signing with faxbacks at 5pm SATURDAY, 40 minutes from my home. They wanted to pay $60. I told them that I am available to do it, but for that scenario, it would cost them $125 (I think this is very reasonable given the distance, and the faxbacks, and the fact that it was Saturday afternoon. What would a plumber cost for a Saturday home visit?). They asked if I could do it for $65, so I told them it would be $130.

The next day, another company called with the exact same scenario, and they offered $55. Again, I told them it would be $125.

Later the same day, a third company called with the same scenario, offering $60. I let them know that this was the third time I had been called about it, so they must know that nobody wants to do it for that price. I would still do it for $125. The caller pointed out that I had done a similar signing for them in February for $85. I told her I remember that signing, and I regret doing it. The loan package was enormous, and it took them 93 days to pay me. She hung up on me!

All that said, I am no longer accepting cheap signings unless they are in my neighborhood or super easy to get done. Every time I put a low-rate signing on my calendar, I end up missing out on more lucrative opportunities for the same time slot.

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I just sent you a private email before I saw this, Wow! this is great, well stated and laid out. With you permission I would like to repost / share your post.
Thank you!

Very well said. Good Afternoon Everyone, my name is Rose M. Smith and I am just beginning the training for signing agent. As Notaries, it shouldn’t be our responsibility to inform anyone about their loan, it should be the bank, loan company, etc., it is actually their job. In my opinion, those are liabilities we as Notaries should not have.

In my humble opinion and my business philosophy, DON’T DO LOW BALL SIGNINGS PERIOD. As long as some one accepts these offers, they will never stop. You need the close ones at full price to offset the ones that cost you a little more due to distance, size of package, etc. I’ve had companies call me with a low ball on “last minute” and I raise my fee a minimum of $25 to the fee I would normally charge. (It takes the close ones to average out the longer ones.) When they call back after not being able to find someone else on short notice, I add another $25.00 (total of $50.00 added to my regular fee).

THINK AT ALL TIMES OF YOUR BOTTOM LINE AND YOUR TIME. IF WE ARE NOT PROFITABLE, WE WILL NOT BE HERE NEXT YEAR.: I EXPECT TO BE TREATED AND PAID LIKE THE PROFESSIONAL I AM.

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Yes you can share this post. We have to wake every body up about fees or we will not be here next year.

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Yes, you may share it.

Kevin, (suggestion from someone who has been around for several years) suggest you not cut your fees foe any assignment, even if it is next door. We have got to put a stop to these low ball offers.

I’m new. So glad I came across you input. I will adhere to your advise. This is my 2nd profession. I am a retired Postal Supervisor. I am old school, yet open to the new age.