I’m located in the Boston Metro Area and am a licensed notary in Massachusetts. For the last few months I have been toying around with creating a mobile notary business, but focusing on just after-hours calls. I’m pretty tech savvy so I could easily create a pretty good web presence and site.
Around here, a lot of people use banks/credit unions to notarize docs, but they won’t do documents that need many signatures (example being some real estate docs) and UPS Stores. UPS Stores usually charge $10 a signature (Or maybe the max per signature, then a $10 service fee, there is an ongoing lawsuit about this, idk) during the day, and I know they get decent business. Here’s the thing, both close by 5pm.
My idea if to create an “after hours” notary service. I’m usually up somewhat late, and I can field inquiries during the day (work in real estate so flexible hours) and sign at night/early morning. My one limiting factor is that because of COVID and because most of the signatures would be late at night, I would only feel comfortable meeting at a few nearby public places. Definitely no house calls. The flip side is that I am very centrally located and a lot of major routes cross nearby, so I think there could be interest. The bottom line is that there is essentially no supply for off-hours notaries, and with people waiting until the last minute often, I think it may be worth testing the demand. I figure I can get the whole business started for <$500 (Since I am already a notary).
Massachusetts seems to be very lax on fees. It seems like I can essentially charge what I want for “travel” and not risk asking more than the $1.25 per signature. My thinking would be charge a ~$100 flat fee (maybe more), then the max per signature. If I spend 30 minutes notarizing per request (including travel), that’s $200+ an hour, not bad.
I’de love to hear general thoughts of my idea. If you have set up a business, I would like to hear what you do for insurance, payments, etc. I’de love to have a virtual coffee with someone who does this as a business in another state too. I would also like to connect with someone in MA to learn more about what exactly is allowed by notaries, because I have heard that some types of loan docs need an attorney to sign. I’de definitely need to brush up on rules/laws if I decide to take this venture on. All advise appreciated.
You’ve got not much (<$500, you said) to lose by trying. You are correct in that Loan signings in your state must be by attorney. Put it out there and see what happens. Correct as needed.
Thanks! I’de love to connect with a few notaries before trying to get tips, bounce ideas off, etc. One thing I am noticing is that many notaries seem to loan signings as a service on their site YET note they are not an attorney? Very odd.
@JamesBoston My understanding is MA is an attorney-only state - either the attorney must conduct the closing or the notary must be directly supervised by the attorney. It’s also my understanding that the State of MA has gone after notaries who perform loan closings on their own.
I’m not quite sure what you’re looking to do, other than what we all do now - mobile notary work, except you want to target the “night owls”. General notary requests come in at all times of day or night - whether we accept them or not is up to each individual notary; for example, I don’t entertain nighttime requests at all - others are happy to go out at night.
So, all you need to do is start getting your name, Notary Public, out there publicly - market yourself to attorney offices, nursing homes, hospitals, doctors’ offices, etc., and if you can place an ad on google or in your local newspaper - but you need to let your public know you’re available for this. Might try social media too. Also the various notary sites likes this one, Notary Rotary, 123Notary, Notary.net, etc. Get your name out - raise your visibility But honestly, I can’t see you charging $100 to go out to notarize one document - that is a steep
Or, on the flip side, are you looking to set up a company with a database of notaries? If that’s the case you’re going to need far more than $500.
Again, I’m unclear what you’re trying to do…but hope this post helps a bit…and good luck
By the way - this from your handbook:
General Law - Part III, Title I, Chapter 222, Section 17 (malegislature.gov)
“(e) A notary public who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in the commonwealth shall not conduct a real estate closing and shall not act as a real estate closing agent; provided, however, that a notary public who is employed by an attorney so licensed may notarize a document in conjunction with a real estate closing conducted by the attorney and a notary public who is employed by a lender may notarize a document in conjunction with the closing of such lender’s real estate loans.”
Thank you for the reply! My fault on a bad explantation. Let me try to rephrase.
First off, I’m just trying to do this myself. Not start a big company, besides maybe form a LLC for legal reasons, which is $500 a year in MA
So yes, it looks like I am allowed to do GNW - General Notary Work. Loan related stuff if off the table, although interestingly many notaries seem to offer this even though they state they are not attorneys. Odd. I’de like to figure out how they do this.
I don’t think $100 for a document is going to work, but it is not worth my time finance wise to go out for anything less than $100. The sweet spot will be people who need probably 5+ documents signed whos bank may have said no to, waited until the last minute, etc.
I live in an affluent area, so I’m thinking there may be demand. But I am also looking to speak to others and get any feedback/suggestions before putting a few weeks of my time into this. That being said, I am pretty web proficient, so I know I can rank well on Google and such. The question will be is there actually demand for an after hours notary.?
I am also located in the Boston area and trying to do something quite similar. let’s connect and share some tips.
The demand for after hours in the Boston area is not very common. if you lucky you’ll find 1 or 2 a week, that’s if someone haven’t taken it first. maybe on holidays you’ll find a few more. the best advice that I can give is to use that $500 ad invest it somewhere else. maybe take some of it and pay for some membership for some notary websites. you will get more working with other companies than on your own, specially in MA.
hope that helps a bit.
Thank you Lory, let’s connect and discuss further.
I think the best answer to your question is to do a SWOT analyis to determine if it is worth your time. You should think like the end user - your target market when deciding on your fees and services. What are the people that are most likely to use your service and what would motivate them to pay your fee as opposed to waiting till the next business day to have it done for cheaper. If you break it down using the SWOT ( Strength , Weakness, Opportunity, and Threats) analysis it would be a great foundation for you to build on.
Good idea. I think it would be good to connect with some notaries (maybe in other states) to see if clients they serve ever have a need for last minute notaries. Or else I am just guessing.
I tell you this I get more general notary work from my yelp page and by being at the right place at the right time. I can’t tell you how many times I am in staples picking up my mail or at FedEx dropping off a package someone walks in asking the cashier if they do notary work. I got 2 general notary work this afternoon that way. A quick $20 for 2 signatures which paid for the paper I was picking up.
Hi Donaldsonnp, good info. I’ve learned in real estate that it’s really all about timing. I think I will give it a go with a google business listing, yelp and free wordpress.com site and see if I get any nibbles, then go from there. Thx!
That’s exactly what i did… I started with a free wordpress site then upgraded it. I also have a free Yelp business page.
Great minds think alike
Should have the google page verified in a week or so, so we will see what happens!
I tried that too but unless you are using your home address as your physical address for the business they will reject you. I tried using my mailing address and they said no bueno
You can use your home address and then hide it from the map/make it private and just show an area. I think they updated that a few years back.
Good to know… Im doing okay with my yelp page
Hi, would love to chat if you have time.
Curious why your post was flagged, Joe…I don’t see anything wrong with it