First, to make it clear, I am still a Notary Public and provide other services.
However, I am no longer a Notary Signing Agent (if you want to learn the difference, please visit this link (What is a Notary Public and/or a Notary Signing Agent?)
My Signing Agent certification expired this year, after 2 years, and I do not want to renew it, at least for now.
Why did I make this decision? There are a few reasons: I am outside the U.S. most of the year since 2013, but the most important reason: many title, mortgage,… companies want to hire NSAs and pay a meager rate!
As a signing agent, we have LOTS of responsibility as we carry important documents around ensuring safety and privacy. We also need to carry insurance in case of any errors on our part, and the rates are not cheap! We have to invest a lot in order to run the business: costly equipment to print sets of documents that can be at least pages 50 pages (some are like 200!) and the ideal is to have two trays in case the page sizes are different (it can also be accomplished with a software though), another spare printer in case something happens to the main one, printer drums/toners available, a physical fax machine (landline which now is costly) or subscription to an e-fax service, and plenty of office supplies at your disposal at home/office and in the car, locks to keep docs safe, a printer in the car for unforeseen events, converters to use the printer, phone, laptop, etc. aside from keeping your car good enough to endure the amount of driving especially in high traffic cities like Miami. There are more things, but I won’t list all of them.
Basically, this is how it works: Once you accept an assignment, there are several things to do: print out sets of the documents, go through it to ensure it’s correct, contact the client to schedule an appointment to have it signed, etc. The time spent can vary and things can and do go wrong– you can go and get things done in one hour or less (just at the borrower’s place), but sometimes the borrower(s) have lots of questions you cannot answer or does not agree with a term; thus, you have to contact the lender and work as a liaison until all is cleared; the borrow cancels the appointment or does not show up at the lender’s; borrower(s) get home and are busier with other things and have you waiting (in the meantime, no one is paying you while you wait); there are mistakes on the forms and you have to take time to correct it, which sometimes, may include coming back another day with another set printed out or only the pages needed; the borrower(s) do not have the same name on the forms/license, etc. There are different situations. Also, there are many different types of closings, documents that you will come across and you need to be careful enough to make sure things are proper even though you’re not responsible for the content; however, you need to become familiar with them enough to make sure the borrower is signing on the correct places, and be also attentive when you have borrowers in their old age that may be signing something they do not fully understand and will have an adverse affect on them. Notary Public Signing Agents do not simply move paper back and forth; there is a LOT more involved than it meets the eye. One mistake, and it ‘s the NPSA‘s responsibility!
Those who hire signing agents call and offer them the job; they have a few minutes (as you ask questions about the assignment) to decide to take it or leave it. Then you also agree on a rate. Most will struggle in the beginning because of lack of experience, which I understand, but many companies, using this excuse, want to pay signing agents $50.00 flat rate! Some will pay mileage, but still, $50.00 doesn’t cover the cost of the things you need to do/time/supplies, especially when it includes faxing documents back, dropping off documents, etc. and your time! You have to understand that time is of essence; things need to be done in a timely manner including faxing docs back and making sure you FedEx/UPS them on time for closing. It’s a tight schedule because if you do not do it right, it will affect everyone because the docs are time-sensitive.Everyone is waiting and counting on you, the Signing Agent!
If you live in Miami, you know how much you’re paying for gas and the amount of traffic we need to endure almost at all hours of the day. Sometimes to make a trip that is only about 10-12 blocks away (short blocks like in Coral Gables – it takes 30 minutes at 10 am!) It is just not feasible because I value my time, the job I can do, and know what I have invested in it. No, I don’t expect to get jobs that will pay me $150.-$200. to handle those documents because I am not an experienced NSA, but I still have many valuable skills that are applicable to the job, and will not take jobs either for $50.00 that barely pay for gas/time while I put all other expenses out of pocket, run around like crazy to ensure the time is met, spending time and supplies to print, fax, drop off at a courier, etc. to gain experience while those companies make a larger profit. Many of these companies are even trying to hire experienced NSAs and pay them $50.00 or $70.00! It’s insulting, really! I understand things take time, but I don’t have time to do all that only for $50.00. Some are doing it to gain experience, taking any jobs, even lower than $50.00, but unfortunately, it is undermining the value of the profession for everyone! $50.00 does not have the same value it had years ago. It’s time to adjust the rate not only keep up with the inflation but also out of respect for those who do this job!
I waited to put an update until I was sure of what’s going on. I am still part of groups on LinkedIn and many have experienced what I have. During this time, I decided that was not worth it for me in my circumstances, but may be for other people. One suggestion: if you want to embark on it, become a NSA, do not reject it just because of my experience, but you may want to gain experience as a NP first, only, before going that way, so I would suggest you to join the LinkedIn groups and read a few threads/posts there, and take your time to learn from them to decide if it’s something you really want to do.
by Alessandra Gomes
On My Way FL Notary S.A.