Is there a "bubble" in the Loan Signing Agent Industry

Pre-Covid the price of copy paper for a 10 ream box cost was under $30. Today, Office Depot/OfficeMax advertising “Today’s Paper Deal 10-Ream Case of Copy paper at $46.99”. Received a loan signing assignment offer: Bank Of America (Home Equity Signing Only) Fee $50 distance 37 miles, now most times BOA’s loan package can print up to 200 pages. I am not listing the other operating costs that has gone up in pricing. This is our new business reality! I wonder, are we sitting on a loan Signing Agent “bubble”? How many LSAs can survive at these economic conditions? Anyone care to share their thoughts and concerns?

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I completely understand your points. The simple answer to your question as to how many LSA’s can survive…is NONE. I’m out here in Oregon. I partner(ed) with some of the largest signing company’s in the country. However, I quickly found out when the bottom dropped out to the RE Mortgage industry, that the prevailing wisdom was that “inflation” wasn’t affecting LSA’s and thus the fees being offered stayed on-par with 2020 and in many cases saw marked declines. I had one-on-one conversations with all of my partner(s). And, all but one, effective told me to “suck it up” as they were not going to offer any more in the way of a legitimate fee and would have no problem finding a notary to do the job for what they were offering.

All but one…that one was AMROCK ( which is why I am choosing to name them ). They listened and genuinely understood that INFLATION HAS AFFECTED LSA’s TOO.

As a result, when I do get a mortgage signing, it will invariably come from AMROCK. I was able to set my fees based on the rate of inflation without any pushback from AMROCK. FULL DISCLOSURE: If AMROCK finds an LSA who will do the job for less, they will be awarded the job. However, given the fall-out of LSA’s since the Mortgage collapse, I would say my “hit rate” is better than 70%.

Now on to the “Elephant in the Room”: I am retired and have additional income streams so I do not have to rely on my mobile notary business to eat. I am blessed!! That being said, if a person is relying upon their notary business to pay the bills and hasn’t branched out and partnered with other potential lines of business (i.e. Attorney’s, CPA, Hospitals, Financial Advisors etc.), then they will have a very difficult time of it.

I have been in the Financial Services Industry for more that 30 years. I have seem multiple crashes and rebounds. As such, I believe the mortgage industry will rebound (again). The question that each notary has to ask themselves is “Can I hold out until the rebound??”

I hope this has provided the feedback you needed. Take care.

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You’re absolutely right about prices of supplies going up but never in my life have Staples or Office Depot offered a cheaper alternative to something I have to buy. Anyone regularly buying from there need to look elsewhere

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I get my paper from Quill. $36.49 a case.

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I agree with everything you are saying. You are right - the operating costs have gone up, while fees from many companies have gone down. Signing services are still getting the “full boat” however, because they are getting less assignments, they are keeping more for themselves.

Just this past week, I saw someone who is an LSS Ambassador on Tik Tok. This person owns a signing service and was “highly encouraging” Notaries to take the $40 signings. This person shows that they are clearing over $250K a year with signings. Do they mention that they also run a signing service? How about that they are running local trainings they charge for? What about the affiliation link they make $$ on for each person who signs up? None of that was mentioned.

My point - I hope that the newer professionals in this industry will really research what is being promised to them and that they begin to see that after time, gas, wear and tear and supplies - a $40 signing is netting them about $7 if they are lucky.

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Thank you for your feedback. You provided a lot of “golden nuggets” for LSAs to digest.

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I have not taken many signings as I would end up losing money. I see signing offers with scanbacks for only $30. No can do. If notaries are taking this, they can’t be making a profits. Still, someone must be taking them. Otherwise, Companies would be offering more.

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You have hit a sore point in this business. When I started first of all 20 yrs. ago paper ran $24 per 10 ream case of letter and $29 a case for legal. Current price is about $40 a case of 10 ream and over $100 for legal. You can find it cheaper but usually it for an 8 ream case. Your friends at the NNA advertise we can make 6 figure incomes doing signings. I bet you can count the number of Signing Agents on two hands who might truthfully do that. In my 20 years the cost of actually owning and operating a vehicle for this has gone from about $0.40 to what is the current IRS deduction something like $0.65 a mile. Costs of toner and drums has tripled. I am a business major and when I started I calculated and compiled my costs. Unless I was making about $90 a signing depending on the distance traveled was not making money. The old saying of make it up in volume (do more signings) is not controlled by you or me. It’s the market and number of notaries who do this work. The number of notaries of gone up because of our friend the NNA but also the market has gone down because of interest rates and inflation. Most of my signings are about 20-30 miles away one way. Add to the fact that many now want scan backs so you add another trip to your drop off point. Do the Signing Companies care about your bottom line. Not no but hell no! They have volume and yes their expenses have gone up, and they will keep their bottom line. Volume goes down fees go way down. They do not care about the notary. Never will, even your friend the NNA works against you. If you do your research you will find they have a convention every year for Signing Services and you can dam well know they are not telling them to provide fair fees to notaries. They crank out 100’s of newbie every month who do not have a clue about running a business only that 6 figure carrot. The sad thing is Notary Signing Agents do not stick together. We are unregulated as we do not get to charge what ever your state allows for a notary stamp plus travel or other considerations. The Signing Service tell you what they will pay. If anyone has the ability to tell me how we are independent contractors please post. We are given the appointment time and date, how to dress, how to present the documents, etc for the job and what the fee is for it! Try that with any other independent contractor and see where you get. Your mechanic, plumber, house keeper, painter you name me one who gets told what you will pay and then tell them how they will do the job. Good luck, even the IRS regulations say under the current conditions we are not independent. California’s new law is having far reaching effects, all the way to the Federal Level. We may not be considered independent much longer, we will have to see. So the wise notary will know his or her costs, and turn down any jobs that they don’t make at least minimum wage, some signing services will go bye bye and others will end up adjusting their cost of business just like we have been doing over the years, eating the added expenses.

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I guess you could call it a “bubble” in our industry, if you mean that the price of ALL consumer goods is escalating pretty rapidly, something I chalk much of it up to the current trend of increasing inflation, as well as the very poor current poor economic conditions we are all suffering through. I won’t get into a political discussion on here, but things HAVE to change in our country.

With higher interest rates, hovering around 7%, many customers are reluctant to refinance or buy properties, still wanting that 3% their neighbor got a few years ago. This means less real estate transactions, less loan closings, much lower work volume at title companies, hiring freezes at many, and even lay-offs at several.

Because of less work to go around, signing services are tightening their belts to lower fees, so as to remain competitive, but worse yet, they are seeing it as more of a way to increase their profit margin. They appear to be of the mindset of, “Well, the less we pay a mobile notary, the more profit we get to keep.” So they are lowering the fees offered. I believe they began moving in this direction due to too many mobile notaries competing for such lesser and lesser available work, led many signing agents to begin accepting slightly lower & lower fees, in a “price war” effort to beat out their competition. This led to us all witnessing just how far some of the competition will “drop their pants” in order to get closing assigniments.

As far as the much more pressing issue of us all seeing severely lower Mobile Notary Signing Agent fees, I blame the on-line course sellers and the NNA! These unscrupulous and unethical hucksters are out there CONSTANTLY hawking their “sign up for my Notary Signing Agent course, and YOU can make $100,000 per year!”, the irritating “Sham-Wow guy, Mark, being the worst of the bunch.

Because of their unending push to sell their training courses, the field has become so flooded that we are only being offered very low fees, that we can either accept or cease our business.

Can one actually make $100,00 per year, as Mark claims, sure, BUT ONLY IF you get $200 per closing, for every single closing, that you do two closings per day, every single day, times five days a week, every single week, and do all of this CONSISTANTLY, for ALL 52 weeks of the entire year. Doing so WILL earn you $104,000 for the year, BUT…that’s ONLY IF you can create and depend on CONSISTANCY!!! Face it, consistency IS NOT what we can all depend on in our industry.

I’ve done as many as eight closings in one day. I’ve earned over $1,000 in one day, but then I’ve also have no closings for as long as nearly two weeks. I’ve personally indentified and introduced myself to over 485 Greater Houston area title company Escrow Officers (I have a detailed Excel spreadsheet of EVERY Houston area Escrow Officer’s name, title, company, address, e-mail, & phone number…and NO, I WILL NOT share it…so don’t even ask!). If someone works in the Houston area title industry, they HAVE heard of me, unless they are brand new. I KNOW HOW TO MARKET MYSELF!

I “cut my teeth” to gain the real-world experience I posses actually working out in the real world, doing real estate loan closings, since 1998, in and for banking institutions. My past career roles include personal banker, loan underwriter, loan officer, credit analyst, loan file auditor, federal government disaster real estate loan provider and loan closer. I didn’t just learn some “tricks of the trade” then think I know the whole trade. You can take a 180 page loan Re-Fi document package, throw it all over a lawn, and I’ll have every single page back in its correct order in 30 to 45 minutes. (YES, THAT ACTUALLY IS A TRUE STORY, that did happen to me personally, thanks to the wind, during a folding table closing out in a signer’s driveway, during the pandemic, because they didn’t want to allow me inside their home.) In other words, I KNOW MY STUFF!

I am also Fidelity Approved for direct hire, as well as being top-rated with BancServ, Amrock, Mortgage Connect, and I am the TOP PREFFERED Mobile Notary Signing Agent for MANY nationally known brand name local direct-hire title company office locations.

DESPITE ALL OF THIS, my business is STILL STRUGGLING from the earning point is was not so long ago.

A combination of these factors is why we are all suffering, and many “falling out” of the industry, only to be constantly replaced, at a still unsustainable rate, by wide-eyed newbies who have fallen for the false promises of “$100,000 income per year” lies that are being fed to them by unscrupulously shady individuals offering their training courses, all while conveniently forgetting, or deliberately omitting the harsh reality of actual available closing assignments, and the uncertain, and very unpredictable, realistic income that will be attainable due to how the industry presently is out there.

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This is the most accurate thread I have ever seen on the current state of our (lack of profit) business. Every word is pure truth. Still, the question remains…what can WE do to turn it around?

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There’s isn’t anything we can actually do to turn things around. In economics there’s this concept called " The invisible hand" it’s an economic concept that describes the unintended greater social benefits and public good brought about “by” individuals acting in their own self-interests. Until there are various “correction” in the loan signing business, low signing fees will continue. Once new loan signing agents realize that not everyone is going to be able to earn “$100,000” annually, the growth in the number of LSAs will start a downward decline. Increase in the volume of loan signing assignments goes upward, due to demand for real estate loans. What do you think is going to happen, when title companies, lenders or loan signing services starts dropping inexperienced LSAs for making to many errors… Those types of events can cause a change in our industry. Now, that’s is what I mean by “it’s out of our control”.

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We are regarded the same as a taxi cab. If one NSA is unavailable, or charging too much for the job, PASS & find another that is available and/or do the job for less.

Think I’m being funny? Consider the last time you needed a Taxicab / Lyft / Uber to take you somewhere you’d never been, in a city you weren’t familiar with. You ask a cabbie, “How much to take me to FJB Airport?”, or from the airport, "How much to to take me to “Hoity-Toity Hotel Suites?”

One cabbie tells you $150, another tells you $100, and finally you find a reasonable non-price-gouger who will take you there for $65. NOW we’re talking!

What signing services forget is that “Good isn’t cheap, and cheap isn’t good.”

Driving someone somewhere is a mindless task. Knowing how to get the documents signed correctly, and pay attention to detail is a honed skill that TAKES & EXPERIENCE TIME!

So, you’re new, and just took Mark Wills’ (FMW!) Loan Signing System (LSS) course, and you’re gonna make $1000,000 per year? Mark “forgot” (read as: DELIBERATELY NEGLECTED) to inform you that his math to prove how you’ll earn that much is based on CONSISTENCY!!!

FYI: consistency is the one thing that IS NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE in our industry!!!

Mark, and the NNA, LIE, LIE, LIE, LIE, & LIE even MORE…all in order to recruit new NSAs so they can keep their income stream filling their pockets!!!

So, I appears that we all agree, a flooded field of too many of us, repaid inflation, high interest rates, and a crappy current economy, all equal not enough work to go around, and very low pay for the work out there.

To those that already realized all this, then decided to start your own “signing service”, or worse yet, began offering training courses to profit from other newbies, all to supplement your own income, at the detriment of others: You are unscrupulous, unethical, and will get your comeuppance one day soon, for making the whole situation worse.

Wanna wave that “free market & capitalism” flag in m y face? You are cordially invited to take that flag & place it where the sun doesn’t shine.

Purposely & willingly hurting others, all to benefit yourself, IS NOT “free market & capitalism”. It puts you in the same low class as a street hustling illegal drug dealer. But then again, since I see many out there proudly promoting that this is your “side hustle” anyway, as if to project the extremely false image that you’re some bad-ass hot-shot business-savvy genius who has “multiple streams of income” besides doing this (YEAH, RIGHT…LOL!), I’m guessing that some of you might feel being in the same low class as a drug dealer is something to be proud of…SMH.

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I buy letter paper buy the pallet, yes the pallet. I also got about 40+ reams of legal, I picked up on LA for a $1 per ream. The company inherited the legal paper for the previous company, they listed it on Craigslist. You need to work to find deals.
Are you taking those BOA signing from Mortgage connect? Don’t! They pay way to low.
Mortgage connect only calls me direct with High net worth clients in Orange County and they pay $150 per.

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I just checked my city. 700 new notaries in the last 6 months. Most will probably stick to GNW. However, I bet some listened to mark from lss tiktoks. We are in a 30 year low on mortgage applications. It is saturated, at least in my city.

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My opinion is that we have had so many people jump into doing loan signings who see it as an “extra” income. They are not treating it as a business. They are not looking at all the costs to do the job. They are just seeing that it is $50 for about 30 minutes with the customer. Then they have $50 for dinner. I do loan signings as my primary income. It is a supply and demand business now and they are filling the demand with the lowest price.

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I’d bet that 650 of 'em listened to Mark.

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Your opinion is valid.

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Hi Carl, it is not really a bubble. It is just supply and demand. Demand is low right now because mortgage interest rates are high. However, YES, paper and fuel costs have gone up significantly the last couple of years! I buy paper when there is a good sale – even if I don’t need it. Because I know the cost of paper goes up over time.

Hiring companies want to pay us notary signing agents the least amount possible – from their point of view, it is just smart business to reduce costs. We are an expense to them.

Remember that what we are OFFERED for an assignment is not necessarily what we are required to ACCEPT for the assignment.

Notary signing agents have every right to NEGOTIATE their signing fee based on our costs and the amount of work expected. If the amount they offer us to do a signing is too low, then we should always counter. We too are in business to stay in business. If their rate is not acceptable or if the exact time is not available, we could respond to the hiring company with a proposed time that we are available and tell them what our signing fee would be.

For example, say a potential hiring company contacts me and says they want to pay me $XX for a refinance at 4PM today at 123 Cascade, Finite, WA.

I first check my calendar availability and then I use Google to determine the travel distance and so my response might be: “Hello, I am available at 5PM if documents are ready now, and the rate is $XXX. I am very happy to do the signing if you can get this rate approved.”

If I am talking to them on the phone, I might tell them if they can get the rate approved in the next 20minutes, to go ahead and send me the assignment and I will contact the borrowers as soon as possible to confirm the signing appointment. And if it will be longer than 20 minutes, to please call back to confirm that I am still available. I stay pleasant and professional at all times, no matter what. No need to get upset over what they are offering. No need for them to get upset at what I am countering. Either we will be a match, or we won’t. It’s just business.

Doing it this way, they understand my rates and my availability for that specific assignment. If I don’t hear back from them, no problem. A hiring company will either approve my rate or they won’t. It is OK either way. Both sides just move on.

If they respond to me angrily or indignantly that my rate is too high (very rare). I stand firm. I am polite/professional but I still stand firm. MY RATES ARE MY RATES. I might say something like, "I understand you think this rate is too high, however this signing is a xx-minute drive one way in adverse weather with road detours (or whatever might be the case) and that is my rate to do this signing. Or I simply repeat that I am available and I am would be very happy to do this signing if they are able to get the rate approved. If they choose to pass, that is their prerogative. In that case, I politely thank them and wish them a good day, and ask if they could keep me in mind for the next time.

Hang in there, Carl. I wish you the best.

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Holy cow that’s a lot of paper! Smart thinking :brain: I have room to store only a few cases at a time. Buying by the pallet like that is the way to go if you have the storage space! WTG! :clap:

CanYouSayLIBEL
George, I get the sentiment but disagree with the way you said it :rofl:

I despise anyone who refers to this business as a “SIDE HUSTLE”
Makes it sound slick, sleazy.

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