NSA Tips: Part 1

So, obviously this profession is a mess right now. If you’re doing well, good for you! If you aren’t, I sympathize with you. Orders and alerts have completely dropped off to almost nothing. I don’t really do signings anymore, but wanted to let you know of some things I do to save money and time. If you let them, signing services will exploit you until you have nothing left. They have an extensive list of things for you to do and will hold you to a high standard. However, no matter how long you’ve worked for them or how well you do, they will drop you in a heartbeat for the first infraction. There is no loyalty with them. They don’t care if you can afford your rent, bills, or anything. You are integral to their payment (which they receive at least 3 days after the closing and funds are dispersed), but some force you to wait almost 90 days in some cases for your payment.

Every signing should at least give you $150. Anything under that is exploitation. You have to maintain your commission, your insurance, finance further education, pay for your ink, toner, your printer, your scanner, gas, your car insurance, your car payments, print the docs 2x, review/explain the docs to the signer, scan them back, drive all over, and more. You can simply look at the closing disclosure to understand that in many cases these signing services are getting paid hundreds of dollars to farm out all the real work to you. We are adults with many responsibilities. We are providing a professional service. If you choose to do jobs for less, I do not fault you. It’s very hard in this world. Just know what you are worth. You are completing deals for hundreds of thousands of dollars… That is worth something. You are the only one who can do it.

Be smart. Do not let them take advantage of you. I was taught to treat people as I am treated. If they aren’t going above and beyond for us, neither should you for them. Cut corners, save your money, and be clever, always.

1. Don’t use sticky labels.

  • Using labels takes a lot of extra time. It’s helpful if you’ve never done this job before. Try to phase this process out as soon as possible and get familiar with spotting what needs to be signed by you. After you’ve gone through the whole package, always go through again, at the table. Go through every page and check for correct signatures, correct dates, and make sure you’ve applied your seal where applicable.

2. Print double sided signer copies.

  • When you’re new, it makes sense to print your signer copies exactly as the copies you return to title. This allows you to sub documents out that are signed or stamped incorrectly. However, once you’re familiar with everything, it’s best to print the signer copies double sided. It saves paper and thus saves money for you.

3. Print signer copies on letter size only.

  • The signers don’t care what is legal or letter. I used to print their copies exactly as the lender copies dictated. This is a waste of time and paper. Print all of the signer copies on letter paper, double sided. It’s easier, saves money, and saves time.

4. Save your documents until you are paid.

  • Save everything you’re sent until you are paid no matter what the signing service says. This protects you. If they said you didn’t sign a certain document, you can look back and check if it was even included in the original package. If you’ve scanned something and sent it in, this also allows you to see exactly what the scan says. These documents also contain pertinent information you can use to reach out to the lender in case you aren’t paid on time. Don’t let signing services abuse you.

5. Save money on your ink/toner.

  • I made a post here detailing how you can save money on your ink and toner (for brother printers only). These printers are created with programmed obsolescence to force you to buy more of their product. By outsmarting them, you can save money on ink and toner. You’ll know when you really have to replace your items because the printed paper will have dark streaks on it.

6. Allot one hour for every signing.

  • No signing should take more than one hour (unless it is a reverse mortgage). That is your standard and goal. If a signing is going to take more than an hour, leave (unless it’s your fault). Time is money. Signing services do not care about your time or your schedule. Make sure to make this known. If you have spent more than 30 minutes with a signer and they cancel, demand your full fee. Make this known at the beginning of the signing always. Your time is worth something. Your driving is worth something. Your experience is worth something.

7. Accept jobs without reading them.

  • Signing services are not loyal to you. They don’t care about you. Click accept immediately from companies you like. I personally ignore everything from snap docs, and other signing services proven to be grifters. Read the details afterwords and if they are not acceptable, then give them back. Always say they conflict with your schedule even if they don’t, because some signing services will hold it against you otherwise. Remember, you are nothing to them, so they will have no incentive to meet your fee. If you speak up, they can blacklist you. Pettiness. Say it conflicts with your schedule or that you are sick and can’t complete the order. There’s no way to read the entire order before you accept. They do this on purpose by sending out orders to everyone in your entire city or state. They know you only have less than 2 seconds to accept. They don’t care if it’s a brand new person or a veteran. Accept first, ask questions later.

8. The standard for scanbacks is $25.

  • Period. Scanbacks are $25. Scanbacks are extra work. You have to drive all the way home, scan the documents back (which can take up to 15 minutes), and then drop the documents at UPS/FEDEX. This is work. Any job that doesn’t increase the fee is exploitation. They don’t care about extra work you have to do. If you accept a job that doesn’t allow for this, that is your choice. Just know, if you have to provide scan backs for a $80 refinance, you are really getting paid $55 for the refinance and $25 for the scan backs. Highway robbery.

9. The maximum payment schedule should be 30 days.

  • So, once the loan funds (after right to cancel ends usually), most parties are paid if not all. Ideally, that would include you. However, that isn’t the case. I have read of people working with companies who make them wait 45, 60, and even 90 days for payment! Any company doing this is waving a giant red flag for you. Why are their finances so out of order that it’s taking you months to be paid for your valuable services? Do not do business with companies who make you wait this long for payment. When I work directly with title offices, they pay me before the signing when they set the appointment via a credit card POS on my website. I also allow for checks to be sent. I have a strict 2 week payment period. If it takes longer then that, I charge a $35 late fee, which they also must pay. For signing services, 30 days is the maximum.

10. Loyalty does not exist in this field.

  • Signing services are not loyal to you. They have no reason to meet your fee, because there is always someone desperate enough to accept a loss. Please understand this. This is the nature of capitalism. Review your costs to do business and stick to that. Taking a low cost order hurts not only you, but all signing agents. We do not have laws in place to protect us. These services know this. We are like illegal immigrants doing extensive work for less than minimum wage. When you stand up for yourself, you stand up for all NSA’s. I hired a lawyer last month for a personal issue. He charged $1000 just for his consultation. The phone call was less than 30 minutes. $1000 for less than 30 minutes of legal advice! Your experience, professionalism, and expertise is worth just as much! These companies are making thousands off of you. Do not do business with people who exploit your labor.
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I agree with you for the most part – #1 is iffy - I never believed in sticky notes for reasons stated by me in another thread about this…as for the others, I disagree with #2 and #3 -

No matter how long a notary has done this or how experienced they are, mistakes happen - and not always the notary’s…Buyers/signers are, for the most part, not veterans of signing loans - the buyers/signers may make an error calling for a replacement page…wrong date, not signing their name properly, signing in the wrong place. For that reason, printing should be done exactly as the original package being signed.

Other than that I agree with everything else you said.

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@Bobby-CA well, for the most part there IS no loyalty in this business - there used to be - but not any more;

About the only other objection I have is “accept jobs without reading them” - but if it’s a company known to the notary and they know the drill, then by all means, hit that button.

Remember what I’ve said before here repeatedly - don’t judge the post by the delivery - judge it by the content - and I think he brings up some good points.

JMO

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#2. Never print the signer’s copy two sided. If you need to pull a page from the signer’s copy to correct an uncorrectable error on the lender/TC copy you may not get paid as this would result in a resign. When this business was slowing down back in February, I saw an uptick in resigns due to gross notarial errors.

#3. Do not change the page size. Many lenders and TC want legal size pages. Reducing a legal size page reduces font size making it machine unreadable by older scanners. Many states have minimum font sizes on RE and legal documents.

#5. You can save money on toner by using generic toner cartridges. Using branded cartridges will void your warranty. Consider however after that 3rd or 4th cartridge you could buy a new printer. Since we are printer dependent, have a back up printer that uses the same cartridges as your first printer. I’m currently running 3 printers all from the Brother 5200/6200 series. I can run both the client copy and TC copy at the same time. I use these printers on my Tax Business as well.

See Ink Technologies website for printer supplies.

#6. It takes more than an hour if you’re closing a Texas VA Refi (often 225+ pages), the signer wants to read every page (it is their right to do so), the signer doesn’t understand the verbiage requiring a call to the Loan Officer, if the closing involves a 1031 exchange, etc… The last 1031 exchange I closed took several hours as the signer didn’t understand most of the documentation. I no longer do 1031 exchanges as the fees are too low for my time.

I partially agree. Colored blank flags are helpful for elderly signers who have vision issues or if you need to social distance. You can say “Mr. Signer, you sign on the orange tab, Mrs. Signer you sign on the blue tab, please.” And will help avoid signing mistakes when Mr. Signer, even despite being told by you where to sign, decides to sign on Mrs. Signer’s place. And vice versa. Colored sticky tabs are helpful to the notary for low-light situations where sometimes it is a challenge for the notary to see well and helps avoid missing signatures – helps you get it right the first time. If there is still a sticky note, you know a signature did not get placed.

I completely disagree. If your signer makes a mistake on the documents intended to be executed and you have to swap it out of their set of documents, you would be placing a double sided document into the set you are sending back to your hiring company. They have instructed you to print single-sided only, so if you fail to do this, they have every right to dock your pay or refuse to pay you if the document is rejected for recording or funding is delayed. It costs us money to print two sets of documents, yes. But this is not a wise place to cut corners IMHO.

I completely disagree for the same reasons I stated above. Follow notary instructions. Print documents on correct sized paper. Always.

I completely disagree. Keeping/storing copies of your signers signed personal documents is a violation of state notary law no matter where we reside. And it is against the notary public and notary signing agent code of ethics. Hold on to your notary confirmation until you get paid? Yes. But store it securely. The notary confirmation contains enough details such as the signing instructions, the hiring company, the rate, the lender and the title co. Absolutely no need, no lawful reason IMHO to hold onto the borrowers documents for weeks and weeks, waiting to get paid by your hiring company.

VERY COOL IDEA. I am intrigued will definitely try this. OEM charge premium prices for replacements and refills. Its highway robbery. I just replaced my Brother drum unit and reset it and it still gives me an error like its near the end of its life. It prints OK but gives a lame drum replacement error that makes me worry every stupid time. So why not try cutting a corner here. Thanks!

Only partially agree that time is money. And yes, if you spend time with the signer and they decide to cancel, you should get your fee. Yes, make it known at the front when the signing is scheduled. But YIKES… I am not walking out or threatening to walk out on any signer for taking too long. What if it is an elderly couple who have to read through every loan document before they sign. What if they have a physical limitation and each signature is really painfully slow each time they sign or date? Tough bananas, for me, I say. It is their prerogative and it is out of my control. But I wouldn’t dream of making the hiring company or the signer think that they are wasting my time. And I would be upset and would lodge a complaint against any notary signing agent who did rush my elderly father through a signing because they thought it was taking longer than it ought to. Or if they did walk out on the signing before it was completed because they were frustrated it was taking too long to complete. As notary signing agents, we can get in big, big trouble rushing or pressuring the signers in any way. It is better to smile and accept that the signing takes however long it takes. Yes, we should do it as expeditiously as possible. Cut the chitchat and side conversations and just focus on the business at hand. But do it professionally and never, ever rush a signer. Never walk out just because you feel it is going too slow.

Disagree. But that’s just me. Holy moly I feel your frustration in this post, Auddie. It’s palpable. This is a very tough stretch with mortgage rates being so flipping high. I feel the pain too, my friend. We all do. Keep at it. Keep doing the best you can.

Partially agree? YES, scanbacks are more work and must be figured in to the rate quote. It’s one of the questions I ask when giving a quote. I repeat the order back to them, almost like it’s an fast food order: “So that is 1 large refi with two signers,100 miles RT, with a side of scanbacks 10am Friday, and documents are ready now? Great. That’ll be $XXX at the next window, please. Thank you and have a great day!” :rofl:

AGREE, sadly. “Do not do business with people who exploit your labor” is sound business advice.

Thank you for a thoughtful post.

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I think this is all great advice. I wish I had read this when I was new.

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Believe me - this advice is interspersed in threads throughout these forums. We’ve regurgitated this advice over and over again ad nauseum - but nobody listens until they get played…

We try…that’s all we can do

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But it does bear repeating. There are a lot of conversations on this forum and would take hours or more to go thru them looking for particular ideas. Very stimulating conversation though.

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noblenotary615… 2. Haven’t tried the dbl sided though…up in the air on that one. 3. if there’s a lot of legal pages, I will print the signer’s copy on letter only. I do travel with a printer and scanner in my van if I need to print a page due to signer error…works for me. 5. there is probably good compatible toner out there, I only use OME bc, a few yrs. ago I purchased a very nice and expensive Brother color laser printer, used compatible toner after the OME ran out…the printer was never the same, printed a blue streak on each page…no matter what I did to correct it, the blue streak remained.
I agree there’s no loyalty…thanks for the post.

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OK, I think I’ve had enough. My best wishes to you all.

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I’m afraid you didn’t fully read my point, here. I specifically mention that it is helpful to not print double sided if you aren’t confident in your abilities or are new. However, if you are confident, then double sided is easier and quicker. If you don’t make mistakes you won’t need an extra document to replace anything with. If you are guiding the signers properly and fully explain the rules, they shouldn’t be making mistakes either. It could be helpful to specifically have a promissory note and deed copy to sub out, though.

Once again, I’m not sure you read what I said. Lenders and title companies do not have requirements on page size for signer copies, in my experience. The signer themselves does not care if a document is printed on legal or not. They can read the letter sized docs just fine. I’ve never had an issue. Of course, you should always print the docs that go back to title exactly as they are specified.

Wow! That’s crazy. I am not in TX, so can’t speak from that experience. Have never been sent an order over 200 pages.

@noblenotary615 I’m afraid it’s you who don’t get it…

As to #2 of RiverpointeTax’s post - it may not be YOU who makes the mistake but the signers…and anything can happen - if you don’t have an exact duplicate page (or a printer to print it) you’re up the proverbial creek with its paddle.

As to #3 of this response - changing the page size changes the font size also…automatically - which may, depending on the local requirements, render the document unrecordable. And once again, the absence of a page to use to substitute in the event of error.

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These are tips that have worked for me. Everyone has to choose their own strategy that works for them, in the end. As I said, time is money.

Regarding this, I’m not sure where you’re getting these assumptions, as these are not words I ever mentioned. If your standard for the signing is 1 hour and you make this known, then your appointment time is 1 hour. When someone goes to a therapist and pays for an hour of therapy, does the person get mad that the therapist asks them to leave after an hour because they have other clients?

As a professional, you shouldn’t be threatening or pressuring anyone to do anything. But, if your time allotted is 1 hour then that should be made known. You may have other appointments. Are you going to be late to all your other appointments because 1 signer decides to take 2 hours? That is extremely unprofessional to me and unfair to all your other appointments. However, if that’s how someone wants to run their business, it’s their choice.

If you have a signing that for some reason will not even start until 35 minutes after the appointment start time, then it behooves you to express apologies, reschedule the appointment for a better time, and remove yourself, I think. Your time is just as valuable as theirs. I once had an appointment where the signer was late. I had another appointment across town afterwards, 2 hours later. The signer said she was “on her way” and would only be “5 minutes.” I told her that was fine, but that our appointment only had 1 hour allotted. However, I waited outside of her apartment for 15 minutes. Then, she sent someone to let me into her empty apartment and wait there. I obliged. I waited another 20 minutes. At this point, she still wasn’t there and 40 minutes afterwards, I was certain we wouldn’t be able to go through everything properly and on time. So, I left and told her so. I immediately called title and told them what happened. They reimbursed me my full fee and I made it to my next appointment on time and got paid for that as well, where the signer did respect my time and our appointment.

Obviously, if you’ve started the signing on time and it’s just taking a bit longer, you should clearly stay and finish. Up to 20 minutes after an hour isn’t the best, but can’t be helped sometimes. Once started, it’s up to you to finish the signing and it’s up to you to guide the signer through the documents efficiently and in a timely manner. If you are reading every sentence or not summarizing things for the signer in a way that makes them confident in the material, that is a time management issue.

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You earlier stated in a different post that calling out, trash talking, companies and individuals is a good idea. Keep in mind there are individuals who work for SS and TC that are on this forum. Many of your colleagues have deep contacts in this business. Do you really want them to see your comments. Your words will eventually get around. In other words what you post on any internet forum is like peeing in the pool; you’ll never get it out.

#2 It’s more common for the signer, than the NSA, to make and uncorrectable error. In this case you’ll need the “back up” copy. If the Back Up is printed double sided or the font is too small, you’ll have a much more difficult time making a correction at the table. I’ve had kids get sick on the document package, the family cat get frisky with the pages, beverage spills, and goats trying to pages. Since it’s the signer’s home one needs to be careful and tactful how you handle these risks. The signer can kick you out and while telling the TC their story, which will taken as fact more so than any explanation you offer. You’ll suddenly find yourself not getting engagements, without anyone telling you why.

#3 Page and font size can be specified by the lender, TC, or the State. If the document instructions specify how they should be printed always follow the instructions. Don’t deviate. If you must deviate always contact the document originator to get approval. Your signer may not b able to read small fonts due to visual impairment. If they complain to Title, this could cost you future business for not following instructions. A visually impaired individual is not required to let you know, nor can you ask. This is not the first disabled client I’ve closed for.

#6 Ok you’re not working Texas. Always caveat your advice with local market in mind. That being said be careful offering blanket advice. In Real Estate it’s ‘location, location, location’.

You never want to threaten a signer or walk out of a signing. This can be construed as coercion or intimidation. Both of these can have civil and criminal consequences. If the signer has a disability, a non-native English speaker, ect., that would put drag on the signing, this could result in violations of the signer’s civil rights or the American’s with Disabilities Act.

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Unfortunately, this is what you said - if it takes more than an hour…leave. I missed this the first go round and strongly disagree. Things happen - you never leave your signer unless it’s painfully obvious they don’t understand their loan or they are not going to sign. Then you either offer to come back or put them in touch with their LO - but just leave? NO!!

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Thank you! Printers can definitely be temperamental. I’ve saved a lot of money using my strategy in the main post, but I can only speak for brother printers. Having a mobile printer and scanner is excellent! That’s the most ideal situation. When it comes to printing double sided signer copies, it’s up to you. The signers can always request digital copies from the lender at their leisure. These tips have worked for me and I’ve never had an issue.

It’s your business, so do what works for you, your clients, and your wallet!

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Actually I like some of your points.
What you may possibly do is print everything double sided and letter size for the signer copy but those pages with signatures and notarization language print those pages which is probably about 20 pages as single pages.

I try to give myself at least an hour/ and a half just in case of signers wanting to read everything or other problems.

I do agree with the fees which we are being low balled for. Maybe notaries should start a union with all notarization starting off at no less than $100.

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You can avoid signers signing in the wrong place if you pay attention to what they’re doing. For example, on the Right To Cancel form, I usually point out where they should sign and in some cases specifically tell them NOT to sign on the “I wish to cancel” line. If most signature lines also call for a date, I pay special attention to the NOTE, where sometimes they want a date and sometimes they don’t. I will tell the signers “No Date” before they start to sign. I watch their hand closely and as soon as they finish their signature I watch like a hawk if it looks like they’re trying to enter a date. Several times, I’ve stopped them just in the nick of time.

Nothing is 100% but I agree with the policy that borrower copies can be done on all letter-size paper using “shrink-to-page size” without too much risk. It’s actually easier for the borrower that way. Even if you have to send back a page that was originally legal-size in letter-size, it’s usually fine. I’ve done that several times and never had a complaint about it. The one thing I’ve never really understood is why lenders insist on still using legal-size paper. How stupid does it look for a 180 page package to have 3 legal size pages and 177 letter-size?

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I love my flags…All my signers love it young and old. I tell them its a two step process. It shows them where they need to sign and when they hand the documents back to me i use it as a way to check to make sure it was done correctly by removing the flag. I resuse them over and over again. I will never stop flagging my documents.

In this business we know loyalty is not there so cutting corners to save a buck or two makes no sence… it takes one error to ruin a relationship and can cost you the next assignment and more money than what you saved. I am by the book kinda gal… I follow instructions as they are given to me by each company. But Hey we all run our business the way we see fit.

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It makes sense to efficient people. Flags are redundant. You don’t need a flag to point out where to sign when you’re sitting right there with the signers. Flags would make sense if the signers were on their own. If you’re familiar with the docs, you can check everything on your own without flags. Besides, you then have to remove all the flags before shipping them off, taking even more time. Using flags is kind of like using training wheels on a bike, in my experience. I did it when I first started out and saved much more time when I stopped. You can go much faster with just 2 wheels.

Cutting corners is not synonymous with sloppy, shoddy, and/or poor work. People who are great at calculus use tricks/“cut corners” to solve their equations quickly or do it all in their head, versus math challenged people (like myself) who have to write every single step out to get to the answer. People who aren’t so good must follow the exact formula taught “by the book.” Advanced students create their own methods which save time, as they’re more confident in their abilities. As long as the answer is correct, do what you want.

These tips are for efficient NSAs. Ones who value saving time, not spending it marking every signing with over 40+ labels. Ones who don’t make mistakes, therefore don’t need a back up copy paper for every single page in a signing. Ones who understand they are in charge as business owners, versus ones who bend over backwards to be exploited like employees. Ones whose time, experience, and energy is valuable, versus ones who don’t recognize their worth. Ones who cultivate relationships with businesses who are fair to them, versus any old company that will pay them a penny.

These tips aren’t for everyone.

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