Getting Started as a Notary Signing Agent
Right now, I am NOT recommending that anyone get into the Notary Signing Agent business unless they are already involved with real estate and mortgage lending.
This is because the market has never gotten back to the strength it had before the 2008 meltdown. Many of the signing services and title companies and lenders went out of business or merged. The biggest of the banks got their bailouts, but smaller banks continue to go under. While costs have continued to rise, the weak economy has led many companies to offer the same pay (or less!) for each closing that they did 12 years ago and to expect more for it.
Here in Tennessee, we have the additional burden of a law regulating so-called “high cost” loans, which made it harder for Tennessee borrowers to qualify for loans, even if they are not sub-prime, and which required all “high cost” loans to be closed in offices of lenders, settlement agents or attorneys — that basically ended the in-house or at-office convenience of having an NSA meet the borrowers where they preferred to meet for those types of loans.
So, now is not a great time to be entering into this business and competing with those who are already established in it. Many NSAs are now diversifying, adding loan orginations, field inspections, title abstracting or other services to their business just to stay in business.
If you are determined to get into this business despite this, please read the following.
Before you can be a Notary Signing Agent, you must first be a Notary Public. In Tennessee, that involves filling out an application, signing it before a Notary Public, and turning it in along with the fee to the County Clerk in your county of residence or business. Your state probably has a similar procedure — check with the County Clerk in your county or with the National Notary Association for details.
If you are in Shelby County, you will want to see the Shelby County Clerk’s website about the process at http://www.shelbycountytn.gov/index.aspx?NID=566. If you are in another county, please google the county clerk for your county – most of them are online. If that does not work, call the County courthouse in your county.
Then you will need a Notary Bond from an insurance company and a Stamp from a stamp or office supply company. The application and a bunch of information about what it means to be a Tennessee Notary Public is in the Tennessee Notary Public Handbook, which you can reach from the Secretary of State’s Notary Commission page here: http://www.tennessee.gov/sos/bus_svc/notary.htm.
You need a copy of the latest handbook, anyway, because one of the things you agree to do is abide by the handbook.
Next, once you have your Notary Public commission, there are all sorts of places online you can go to get information about getting started. One good source is Brenda Stone, who does the marvelous Texas Notary website and who now has an online “book” called the How to Start Notary Signing Agent book that is recommended. Here is the link to that: http://www.texas-signing-agent.com/free-notary-book/book.htm
Another good source is the National Notary Association. While I have some real issues with some of the actions taken and advice given by the NNA, they are the only company in the business of selling educational materials to Notary Signing Agents whose materials have been accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training, which is the body that generally accredits institutions of higher education. ACCET accreditation is recognized by the US Dept of Education.
The NNA also has the largest list of signing services (and a good list of title companies) of any site on the web. So, for those starting out, I would say joining the NNA and its NSA Section and taking their courses to get their Certification is a minimum requirement to being seriously involved as an NSA. Once you have that certification, market to the list of companies available on their website (don’t just wait for them to find you on the list of NSAs there and don’t just use the site to sign up with the companies listed — do real marketing to these potential clients) and you will be on your way in the business.
I also suggest visiting all the sites listed on the pages of my website at http://notarymemphis.com and reading everything on those sites to get much more information and training in this business. Some of those sites will require that you pay a membership fee to gain full access to them; usually that gets you a listing in their database, which can be a good way to get your name out there and make yourself more visible for potential clients. Most offer discounts on any products that they sell once you become a “member” of that site.
You WILL need a website of your own if you are serious about doing this business and these other sites can contain links back to your website — the more links you have going to your website, the easier it will be for potential clients to find you using google and other search engines.
Of course, your Notary Signing Agent website could be a blog, so you could set up a website for your business right here on WordPress. You may want to get a domain name for your business (I recommend mydomain.com for that, as they have good prices and you can redirect the domain to whatever actual URL you want — including your blog.)
There are groups for Notaries and Notary Signing Agents on Facebook and other social media sites.
Also, there are email lists and groups on yahoogroups and google groups (search under the term Notary or Notary Signing Agent) which can be good, free resources (but sometimes very chatty).
Just be sure that you don’t believe everything you read on any of these forums or websites. As always with anything on the internet, check the info you gather and compare it with other sources before relying upon it. Some folks know what they are talking about, some just think they do, and some have less-than-charitable motives for saying what they say.
Not every book on the market is true. Some books, blogs or websites are such a mixture of truth, lies, rumors and errors that it can be difficult to figure out the good info from the worthless.
If you are brand new to this business and still learning to distinguish good information or advice from questionable materials, please consider starting with sources such as the National Notary Association, or the American Society of Notaries . (Unfortunately, some of the other sources I used to recommend are no longer with us, or have changed names and websites such that I don’t know where they are.)
Also, many Notaries speak very highly of 123Notary andNotary Rotary and Notary Cafe. (I really like the Modern Journal of Notarial Events that Notary Rotary sells — it makes being an NSA much easier than any other Journal I have seen and it costs less than the NNA Journal.) Most of those sites have message boards and/or email lists you can join to network with other members.
As with EVERYTHING you may see on the Internet, just because it appears online that does not make it true. Caveat Emptor ! (That is ancient Latin for “let the buyer beware!” )
Study before you do, study again before you buy, study some more before you use what you buy in ways that will affect other people.
Finally, if you have done all these things and still feel that you need more training, I may be available for one-on-one mentoring in the Memphis area for a fee
You don’t expect me to actually train my competition for free, do you?