(AZ) Source of this article: The Real Truth about Notary Signing Agents
I guess the best way to start this article is to let you know that this is not an easy “get rich quick” trade, as it has sometimes been portrayed. I’ve been doing this for several years now, and I consider myself to be fairly successful. However, I have yet to hit the six figure a year mark from working as a notary signing agent.
In the past, different organizations have conducted marketing campaigns to promote training for those interested in entering the very lucrative field of notary signing agents. The campaigns promise earnings of thousands of dollars. Many notaries have jumped on the signing agent bandwagon, quitting their full time jobs to pursue the dream of becoming an independent contractor in this field.
Let me share some of the information that is never advertised. First, many of the notary signing agent assignments are handled by “signing companies/services.” Theses signing companies act as a “middle man” between the notary signing agent and the title company. The signing company is the one who actually negotiates a price with the title company and then farms the work out to the notary signing agent at a lower. For this reduced fee, the notary signing agent is expected to print two sets of closing documents (average 160 pages per set), travel to the borrower’s home, make sure all documents are properly signed and notarized, and on many occasions, fax the entire set of completed documents back to the signing company, and then wait for them to review them and provide permission to take the documents to FedEx or UPS to send back to the title company. How long does all of this take? At the least, about three hours.
I didn’t mention that when documents are received from the signing company there are usually several pages of confusing instructions threatening to reduce the notary signing agent fee if there are any mistakes. After documents are mailed back to the title company, you can expect to get paid anywhere from 30 – 45 days after the closing, if it’s a halfway decent signing company. If you didn’t make any mistakes, you should receive your entire amount. If mistakes were made, expect a reduced fee. Less than stellar signing companies can take from 60 – 120 days to pay (after numerous reminders), and there are some that choose not to pay.
Recently, different software platforms have been introduced and are currently being used by many of the signing companies. Now closing assignments are being sent through email blasts and mass text messages. These assignments are usually awarded to the first respondent. It should come as no surprise that the signing companies using these technologies tend to offer even lower prices for assignments. How else can they cover the added expense of using this technology? Thus, there is another reduction in the notary signing agent fee.
Let me say that there are many great signing services that pay a decent fee for notary signing agent services. However, there are a large number of signing services that take for granted the services we provide. Do your research prior to accepting an assignment from a signing company. There are many that require constant payment reminders. Also, don’t be blindsided by the offer of volume. More assignments at a lower fee does not equal a profit. It just means you’re working twice as hard for less money.
I would strongly advise that you do some research before quitting your day job. I also suggest doing this part time before venturing out full time. I’ve seen a trend of notary signing agents who were once doing the job full time either leaving the industry or taking on full- or part-time jobs. I’ve noticed that there are many who do this full time (like myself) who have an additional source of income. While I do this full time, I also do other independent contractor work. I have been unable to find enough signing agent work to serve as my only source of income.
Phyllis Traylor, U.S. Army Retired is a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries.