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Notary Bulletin

Practical Tips For Dealing With Challenging Signers

Complaining-Signers.jpgFrom belligerent borrowers to over-zealous house pets, ultra-messy households to overly-chatty signers, Notary Signing Agents encounter their fair share of challenging situations. Matthew Valera, president of the nationwide signing service Notary Public Network, recently offered some practical pointers on how to deal with several of the more common scenarios.

1. The Over-Anxious Signer: Borrowers have plenty to be nervous about — they are about to make a life-changing purchase, or they’re overwhelmed by the process. You can ease their anxiety using several practical techniques:

  • Manage borrower expectations. Let the borrowers know exactly what to expect. Walk them through the process start-to-finish using an authoritative and confident tone.
  • Take control. Maintaining control is paramount. You can do this by steering borrowers to where the signing will take place, providing them with pens, and handing over documents one by one, as necessary, while showing them precisely where to sign.

2. The “I-Trust-No-One” Signer: To most signers, you’re a complete stranger — and many people are naturally wary of strangers, especially when they are facilitating the signing of critical documents. Whether you encounter a signer who insists on reading every line of every lengthy document, or one who shows downright hostility, these techniques can help diffuse the situation:

  • Be polite and respectful. Don’t take a lack of trust personally. Regardless of the attitude or scenario thrown your way, Valera recommends always showing “positivity, directness and politeness. Above all, remain professional.”
  • Earn their confidence. Professionalism and knowledge can win over even the most skeptical signers. Keep in mind: in the end, your job is to ensure the notarization is done accurately, not to win over their lifelong trust.

3. The Unsuitable Location Signing: You show up only to find that the location is unsuitable for signing. There could be unfriendly animals, a lack of viable signing surface, or you feel uncomfortable entering the signer’s house.

  • Be adaptable. Come up with a different plan, and suggest it in a calm and convincing manner, or ask the signer if he or she has an alternative location, such as a patio, a nearby library or café.
  • Carry a clipboard. Having a portable signing surface can make any location a viable signing spot — even the hood of your car.

4. The Signer Who Won’t Stop Talking: They probably mean well, but the overly-chatty types can drain your time, not to mention cause potential mistakes due to distractions. Use the following techniques:

  • Don’t respond. Be polite, but avoid engaging in the off-topic dialogue. Refocus the attention of your signer to the task at hand.
  • Keep the signing moving. If the signer remains bent on talking, keep the signing moving by continuing to the next document and indicating where he or she should sign. Proceed until complete.

5. The Signer Who Refuses To Sign: You’re there to get a signature, but he or she won’t sign. What now?

  • Identify the problem. What is keeping the signer from signing? Is it a fixable issue related to the documents, such as misspelled names on a title or incorrectly pre-printed dates? Or is it a larger issue dealing with the paperwork or signing circumstance?
  • Determine whether or not issue is solvable. Answer any questions that the law permits you to answer. If applicable, explain the rescission period to wary borrowers. It’s always helpful to have contact information for the applicable service, escrow or loan officer who may be able to offer answers, should the problem be out of your scope to resolve. You can also ask the borrower for their liaison or contact, or have them reach out for the appropriate answers.
  • Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

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