Why I Call First

Many times, when I receive an assignment to handle a real estate signing as a Notary Signing Agent, the client will include a statement about going ahead even if I can not reach the signers/borrowers. Sometimes, they don’t provide useful phone numbers (disconnected, cell phone that is unanswered while they are at work, main switchboard for an employer where you need at least a department to reach them). In these cases, I find myself feeling the need to explain why I insist on calling the signer and, preferrably, speaking with them first before I go out.

First, there is the matter of I.D. If they don’t have a form of I.D. acceptable under the Tennessee rules for Notaries Public, they need to get a proper I.D. before I arrive. The only ways around that are if I already know the signer(s) personally (rarely happens) or if we can use a credible witness, which can get complicated. I have only used a CW 1 or 2 times in all the many years that I have been a Notary Public.

Second, for a refinance loan, there is the matter of cash due from the borrower (has to be a cashiers check or money order if above a certain amount) or money due to the borrower from the loan proceeds (I don’t deliver money, as there is usually a 3 day right to cancel period that has to pass before the lender or title company will cut any outgoing checks). If the borrower does not have the required funds due or if they expect me to deliver the funds coming to them, this could mean the signing does not take place.

Third, there is the matter of how long the signing will take. Some loan officers tell borrowers it will take 30 minutes. In my experience (10 years), the average signing take 60-90 minutes & can take as long as 2-3 hours, depending on circumstances. They need to know this & have set aside enough time to get it done so we don’t find ourselves having to stop before we are finished.

Fourth, there is the matter or where and when. Sometimes, the borrowers prefer to sign at a different time or place than indicated on the work order. I will accomodate them as much as I am able. If they want it to be earlier or a different day, they need to speak with their loan officer to make sure the loan documents are prepared in time with the correct info on them. Part of this is also verifying that the location is where the online maps show it as being; those maps are not always accurate & I don’t want to get lost on the way there.

Fifth, and this really is the least important reason, there is the matter of my fees. I expect to be paid my full fee once I arrive at the signing location unless I do something wrong. While print fees & trip fees are nice and certainly appreciated, I am there as a Notary Public, a disinterested third party witness. If you make my fee contingent on whether they sign the docs, this changes the nature of my role in the signing to someone with a vested interest in encouraging them to sign. I always try to be a Notary Public first & a Signing Agent second. If I arrive without speaking with the signer(s)/borrower(s) and they are not ready to proceed due to one of the above reasons or any other and you want to reduce my fee because they did not sign, this creates a conflict that I would rather avoid.

I am a professional Certified Notary Signing Agent. This explanation is offered so signing services, title companies, lenders & others can understand why providing good contact numbers for their borrowers is always a Good Idea.

Please feel free to post feedback here.


About Tim Gatewood

55+, male, widowed (May 2016). Mobile notary public and signing agent, freelance writer, and ordained minister. Science fiction and fantasy fan, willing servant to cats, avid reader and collector of books and other stuff. Please see my websites (including this blog and others) for more info on me and what I think about the issues of the day.
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