The Signing that won't End

I accepted 2 jobs for yesterday in a metro area that is an hour from home. I am very familiar with the area and wanted to visit my daughter as well. Docs came in early (great!), printed just fine (yay!), I arrived early (yay!), and then it goes south… As soon as I arrive, the borrower says that they’ve been waiting since 3:30 to discuss the “the numbers” with their mortgage broker who didn’t call at the scheduled time. I suggest that we get started, and if we encounter anything that they have questions about or seems wrong, they can call the mortgage broker or the title/lender #'s I have to address problems. Page 1 Settlement Statement-$2,880 off (saying borrowers have that much more as part of the loan.) The Settlement Statement doesn’t agree with the note or the Closing Disclosure. They opt for calling the Mortgage Broker. Several calls… no luck. Finally they leave it “on hold” and the mortgage broker finally gets to them. 40 minutes of back and forth ensues. (The borrower is right.) Finally MB says they can add a note at the bottom of the SS noting the correct numbers and initial. CD–just fine, signed (good, good, maybe that was the only problem). QCD… they are not sure if what the QCD says is correct. They try to call their attorney. The law offices are closed…no luck. They decide that they think it is right and after 30 minutes they sign it. (Okay, we are now approaching 1 1/2 hours in and they have signed 3 documents. The pkg is 172 pages. Oh my goodness, my 6 pm dinner and seeing my daughter’s new place is now quickly approaching… The borrowers give extra careful consideration to almost every page. Time with daughter, going, going, gone… I was also planning on dropping these docs and ones from earlier at the FED Ex nearby…to ship TODAY… will I make the shipping time? Signing finally finishes at 2 hours 45 minutes. I miss the Fed Ex drop (besides this signing going too too long, Fed Ex shipping times wrong on Fed Ex app and phone recording for store. They take my docs to ship next day. :frowning: :cry emoji. Head to next signing in area arrive on time. Have not had any dinner in addition to all the previous “stuff.” A signing at 4:00 and a signing at 7:30 should not be a problem, right? Was I too ambitious thinking I could see my daughter for a few minutes (close by between signings?)

My big questions are…when a signing goes south, and it is going to greatly affect other signings on your schedule, does your whole schedule just get later or at some point do you explain that there is no more time for this appointment. The borrowers knew I had an appointment at 6. Every time I have encountered this, I finish the difficult signing and then adjust. What are the options? Is there a better way?

After a refi that lasts 2 hour 45 minutes, is it ok to ask for an additional fee? (The agreed fee was fair for the work and time usually required.) Or do I just suck it up? The fee is the fee no matter how long it takes? If requesting an additional fee, what are your suggestions?

Thanks, in advance, for your advice.


I’d ask for a fee increase. That was a nightmare! Worst they can do is say no. As to what to do next time, that’s so situation-dependent that all you can do is ‘the best you can do’ I’m usually inclined to stick it out as long as there seems to be a potential resolution, but, if the next signer has time constraints, I would not be inclined to stick it out. As most signings are right/doable, I wouldn’t want to sacrifice a good one for one that’s gone south in many ways. But, it’s always a judgment call that hiring party may not agree with.


Thank you! I appreciate your feedback, as always!

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I give each appointment exactly one hour with 15min of wiggle room if I must. I would absolutely get up and leave if they had only signed a few pages in the first 30min. They clearly aren’t prepared and the people they were calling clearly didn’t care or they’d answer their phones. That’s not your problem or your fault. I don’t understand how people apply for these 100k+ loans with no idea of what’s going on, what to do, or who to contact. Like… it’s their loan, they should take some responsibility for it. You did everything you were supposed to do. But, time is money and you’re a business owner. They should have had this sorted out beforehand. I also would ask for a full reimbursement for your time, travel, and work.


I agree with you but for us that are still learning, how would I excuse myself from the signing?
I would like to leave with a good understanding with out seeming to be rude or unconcerned.


Well, it’s important to set expectations. Even if you don’t have another appointment after, lead with the fact that you have an hour or so to complete everything. Of course, you have to be aware of the circumstances. If the signer is signing everything, but is just slow because they’re reading, definitely don’t get up and leave. You just have to grin and bear it. But, in this particular case, where nothing is right, lenders aren’t answering their phone, and the signer is clueless, you should leave because it’s out of your hands.

I would simply say, “I’m so sorry, but I do have another appointment to get to. I encourage you to speak with your lenders and make sure everything is correct and settled. I’d love to complete the signing when you’re ready. Please ask for me and we’ll get everything handled. Take care!” Give them your business card, then exit stage left.


Thank you so much I will note this down for when that day comes!


Thank you to all who replied. I appreciate your expertise.

While I am a newer notary (just a year in business), I didn’t become a notary to jump on the “cash cow.” I had no delusions of making 6 figures. I decided that becoming a notary signing agent was something I wanted to do (several years ago) when I retired from teaching music. Then, I’d be in charge of my schedule, I could supplement my Public Employee Retirement Association pension. Since my feeling about teaching was/is that it is a service profession; I wanted to be of service to others in a new way. When I miss working with students, I take a substitute teacher job. I do not want to make it harder for established notaries to earn a living, and I do not take the low paying jobs. (Just wanted to say that my intentions for becoming a notary were not based on a get rich pipe dream.)


Thank YOU for this last post. It’s a breath of fresh air and much appreciated.


I am “lucky”, for some reasons, because similar signings happen to me often. That is always a question for me, is that a norm? If so, how do people handle 5 or more signings a day? Because of that I don’t take more than 2 signings a day and they are several hours apart. Very often I have readers, and sometimes people who are just slow writers. Sometimes a horrible realtor who wants to be present wants to play boss and starts acting like … Oh, so much stress in this job. I really don’t understand how so many people say this is stress free job.


Luckily this doesn’t happen on every signing. I’ve been fortunate that it has only happened once to me (3 hour purchase signing). I don’t want to play Monday morning quarterback, but here may be a tip for you and anyone else reading. I would have asked if it was okay to call my next appointment. They probably would be okay since they were waiting for their MB.I would call my next appointment to see if they were able to sign at that time. If so I would have told the current signers that I need to perform another appointment close by, and I’ll be back afterwards. If they didn’t mind, and if your other appointment was willing to sign earlier, then you accomplished one signing and dropped docs for your earlier signing, then gone back. By that time, the signers could have resolved the issue with their broker or, at least could have read through the docs. Just a thought. I find many signers are flexible and understanding.


When a SITUATION like this arises remember this, remember this


The customer can sign the ALTA / & CD and usually Error and Compliance agreement / affidavit the sign allows the Title and Lender to change errors and replace those leaves of pages prior to the signature page.

>>>>>> SO GET ALL OTHER PAPERS SIGNED, setting aside ALTA & CD. Check PROMISSORY NOTE to verify with client if they agree loan amount and interest rate.

Hopefully by that time you finish signing the pages the LO or Title calls.
If there is conflict between CD and Settlement statement, The SETTLEMENT Statement is superior.

Even otherwise, IF you notice , BOTH CD and Settlement Statement called ALTA have the last page as stand along signature. They can always replace the pages. In Refinance ( except in investment same day funding refinance) there is always a 3 day right to rescind the loan.


They can sign CD and ALTA / As long the Note ( Loan Amount & Interest Rate ) is agreed upon by client. The customer can make notation on the other pages of the CD or ALTA and take a phone copy and email and the Title and Lender will revise and send a new sheets for ALTA and CD.


Walk away from signing ! NO one is paying you to wait and waste your time. Dont u understand that TIME is money, even if you have nothing else to do, you

waste your time on your own pleasure , Not because of someone else’s problems.

Charge Trip and Print fee as customer refused to sign


Alright, I have an actual example from this morning. I live downtown and had an order with an older woman about 30 minutes north of me in the boonies. I had already texted her to introduce myself and confirm the date, time, and what we were doing. The appointment was for 10:00am. I plugged her address into my GPS and it ended up taking me to a dirt road hidden by trees… Very creepy.

I thought, this can’t be it, there aren’t any buildings, just a long winding road into the forest and a DO NOT TRESPASS sign. So, I called her. It rang twice, then ended. That usually means someone is hanging up on you. I thought, “Why would she hang up? Our appointment is in 5 min. I’ll try again.” She hung up again, but this time it only rang once. I texted her asking her to please not hang up because I was lost and needed directions. I called 4 more times and she hung up each time. I texted her that because she was blocking my calls, the signing would not be completed.

As I start to drive home, guess who calls? Yup. She calls me and asks for the girl who was texting her. She meant me. I correct her, tell her my name, and mention AGAIN that I’m the notary who she confirmed with just an hour ago that morning. I ask her to confirm the address and she doesn’t even know it… Which is strange (Turns out she didn’t want to give her address out). She tells me it’s across the street from such and such market. Omg. Just give me the address please?? She says she’ll be right back to check for the address… Instead, she disappears and leaves me on “hold” for 5 min. I hang up.

At this point I had pulled over to talk with her. I was trying to make sure the signing was completed and doing everything in my power just to get to her and she was making it as difficult as possible. She ends up sending me a different address through text. I decided to breathe deeply and turn around to find her.

So, I get to this little beauty salon on a hill (2 chairs). Immediately, before even exiting the car, I hear an insufferable small dog screeching. I used to LOVE dogs, but this job really changed my feelings. Turns out I love trained dogs and 90% of people’s dogs are spoiled rotten and just obnoxious monsters, in general, that only their owners can tolerate. This was one such dog. Small, of course, and yapping constantly. I entered the salon and introduced myself to the signer. She was literally doing someone’s hair. The customer was sitting there and the dog was SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER. Instead of quieting the dog like an empathetic person, she didn’t do anything at all.

At this point it’s 10:15am. There is no table or anything. She’s wearing an apron and looks confused as to who I am and why I’m there. We finally sit down and I start recording her ID. I have to remind her to get a pen, of course. She asks me to identify myself and basically starts interrogating me. She didn’t know my job description, she didn’t know who her lender was (I had to find it in the CD and tell her), she didn’t have anyone’s number she could call, she didn’t even know she was doing a Refinance or what a Refinance was!

At this point, I’m very irritated. Between her, the dog, and the customer with hair product staring at me and asking me how I got lost. The signer doesn’t trust me, essentially. She even finds an email that says my name and asks repeatedly “Is this you?” I’m like… YES. My name is Auddie, I literally told you that 3 times now. I have a briefcase and a notary journal and notary seal and 200 pages of documents with your name and social security number on them…

She’s not convinced and decides to call her son. At this point, I’m about to leave, but I decided to give her until 10:25. I had already told her she had an hour to complete the signing, to set expectations. Her buffoon of a son (50+ years old at least) shows up. She starts talking about being confused etc etc. He glares at me and calls me a SCAMMER. He tells her this is a SCAM and he’s NEVER heard of a notary coming to someone to sign documents. She also said the same thing. I guess if a country person out in the boonies of TN hasn’t heard of something, it must not exist huh? :roll_eyes: (this is why I don’t leave cities)

Right when I heard that, I excused myself. The son wanted to call some people and make me “prove” who I was. HA. I said, “I"m sorry, I’m busy and have many other signings to get to. You folks have a good one.” And that was that. The most irritating signing ever.

2 hours later, the signer sends me a text message saying… “I’m so sorry!!!”


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WOW! no words. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Regarding you question about additional fees, you can ask but it most likely will not happen and just be aggravating. You can try to place a contingency clause when you agree to take the assignment. Regarding the signing itself, I always ask the signer to review the Alta or Closing Disclosure first. If there is any issue everything stops. Call Title and Signing Service to inform them of the issue and set a time to resolve so you can finish or leave the signing. If Title wants you to go ahead and leave the Alta to be resolved later notify the Signing Service and lock in your fee. Most likely someone will have to do all or part of this signing again. Try to be firm about your time because no one else cares.

Thank you for your advice! I appreciate it.

Thanks, this made my morning. Did you go back?

Nope, I refused, reported the incident, and asked for reimbursement, which I got :relaxed:

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Thanks for sharing. Your storytelling was entertaining but I know it was not amusing at all. Glad you got reimbursed.

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