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Signing Agent FAQs

 

Becoming a Signing Agent
What is a Signing Agent?
What are the requirements to be a Signing Agent?
What searches are included in the Background Screening?
Why is a Background Screening required?
How does the Background Screening process work?
Are there any Signing Agent restrictions?
What will I learn from the training program?

Existing Signing Agents
I am an existing Signing Agent, why do I need to complete the certification every year?
How can I update my Notary Signing Agent profile?
How do I print my Notary Signing Agent certificate?


 

 

What is a Notary Signing Agent (NSA)?

A Notary Signing Agent is a Notary who has special expertise to handle and notarize loan papers. For lenders, Notary Signing Agents are the critical final link to complete the loan. A Notary Signing Agent is hired as an independent contractor to ensure that real estate loan documents are executed by the borrower, notarized and returned for processing on time. Completing this critical part of the loan process enables the loan to be funded.

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What are the requirements to be a Signing Agent?

A Signing Agent must be a commissioned/appointed/licensed Notary Public. Be aware that opportunities to conduct loan signings may be limited or restricted in some states. For more information, see Signing Agent State Restrictions.

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What searches are included in the Background Screening?

10-Year Search of Criminal Records1
Social Security Number Trace 
County Criminal Court Search2
Motor Vehicle Records3
National Sex Offender 
Nationwide Criminal Database 
Federal District Court Search 
USA Patriot Act including Terrorist Watch List 

1 California, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York and Washington laws limit reporting to 7 years.
2 New York restricts criminal checks to a statewide level and does not offer county criminal court searches.
3 Unavailable in Washington and Pennsylvania.

Click here to view the new Signing Professional Workgroup Standards.

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Why is a Background Screening required?

In order to guard borrowers' private financial information, the mortgage industry requires all persons involved in the lending process to undergo background screenings. Lenders in turn instruct title services companies to ensure that everyone with access to mortgage documents has been screened. This requirement applies to everyone handling loan documents including Notaries who act as Signing Agents.

The NNA background screening includes identity verification, residence verification, federal criminal record database search, residence county criminal record search (through court records, not a database), state motor vehicle records search and an Office of Foreign Assets Control (known-terrorist list) check.

This comprehensive screening meets the highest lender standards and is far more expansive than other screenings. It is therefore recognized and accepted by the nation's leading title and mortgage services companies. More information on Background Screening

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How does the Background Screening process work?

Within 24 hours of registration, you will receive an email directing you to the secure website of our trusted background screening vendor where you can submit the information required to initiate your screening process. 

The entire background screening process is usually completed within five to 10 business days. (Turn-around time for Alaska, California, District of Columbia, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington may be as long as 10-15 business days, due to special handling or additional forms requirements.)

You will be notified via email of whether your results do or do not meet the lending industry compliance requirements. You will be able to view your screening details on the secure website of our background screening vendor. You have the right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in your report and disputed information will be reinvestigated. Please note that the National Notary Association does not have access to your screening details.

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Are there any Signing Agent restrictions?

The following states have certain restrictions that may apply to Notary Signing Agents and their ability to handle loan signings in their state:

  • Connecticut - Requires an attorney’s signature on the title policy, but does not require attorneys to close real estate transactions. Nevertheless, by custom, attorneys close most real estate transactions in Connecticut.
  • Delaware - Requires an attorney admitted to the state bar to be present or involved in the closing of real property transactions.
  • Georgia - Requires an attorney admitted to the state bar to be present or involved in the closing of real property transactions.
  • Indiana - Requires a title insurance license for all closings.
  • Maryland - Requires a title insurance license for all closings.
  • Massachusetts - Requires an attorney admitted to the state bar to be present or involved in the closing of real property transactions. A Notary who is employed by a lender may notarize a document in conjunction with the closing of his or her employer's real estate loans.
  • Nebraska - Limits the fees Notaries may charge (to the statutory maximum fees for notarial acts only). No ancillary fees, such as a courier fee, may be charged.
  • Nevada - Limits the fees Notaries may charge (to the statutory maximum). These fees include an hourly travel fee based upon the time of day traveled.
  • New York - Certain companies providing assignments to signing professionals may choose to only utilize licensed attorneys.
  • North Carolina - Limits the fees Notaries may charge (to the statutory maximum fees for notarial acts). No other ancillary fees may be charged.
  • South Carolina - Requires an attorney admitted to the state bar to be present or involved in the closing of real property transactions.
  • South Dakota - Authorities conflict about whether Notary Signing Agents can conduct signings without being an attorney.
  • Texas - Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) loans are subject to Article XVI, Section 50 of the Texas Constitution and must be signed and closed in the office of a lender, attorney or title company.
  • Utah - Notaries are restricted from handling funds. For example, if a Notary Signing Agent handles funds at a loan signing, he or she must obtain a license.
  • Vermont - Requires an attorney admitted to the state bar to be present or involved in the closing of real property transactions.
  • Virginia - Restricts Notaries from conducting real property signings without an escrow license if they but once handle monies for closing costs.
  • Washington, D.C. - A licensed title insurance producer or a title attorney must be present at a closing appointment. While D.C. Notary Signing Agents are not technically required to hold a title insurance producer license, NSAs who seek to perform loan signings without a title insurance producer or title attorney present must be licensed as a title insurance producer.
  • West Virginia - Requires an attorney admitted to the state bar to be present or involved in the closing of real property transactions.

Note: These notices are based upon the best available information at the time of publication (November 30, 2011) and are not intended as legal advice. The conditions described above are subject to change at any time due to legislative, executive or administrative decisions or developments.

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What will I learn from the training program?

Upon completion of the NNA Signing Agent training program, you will understand:

  • How the loan and escrow processes work and how you fit in
  • The range and limits of your duties as a Signing Agent
  • What lenders, title companies, and borrowers expect from Signing Agents
  • How to get started in your new Signing Agent career
  • Step-by-step procedures for executing loan documents
  • How to provide excellent service to lender, title company and borrower

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I am an existing Signing Agent, why do I need to complete the certification every year?

To meet their service and compliance requirements, lenders and title services companies need Notary Signing Agents to periodically demonstrate that they meet the qualifications for handling loan document signings. This requires completing both an examination of skills and know-how as well as a background screening every year.

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How can I update my Signing Agent profile?

Log into My NNA

Access My NSA Profile on the left-hand menu. You may change any of the editable fields you see there. Please make sure you click the "Update Profile" button when your changes are complete.

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How do I print my Signing Agent certificate?

To print your Signing Agent certification:

Log into the NNA Training Center.

  1. Go to the My Learning tab.
  2. Choose the "Completed" tab.
  3. Ensure your date range is correct.
  4. Click the Certificate link underneath the course.
  5. If you have completed your course and do not have a Certificate link, please email us at nnatrainingcenter@nationalnotary.org. We will get back to you within 1 business day.
  6. Please note: to print your Signing Agent certificate of completion, you must have both completed and passed the exam with a minimum score of 80, and passed the background screening. If you also ordered training, this must be completed as well.

To print a copy of your background screening results:

  1. Use the account information you created when starting the screening
  2. Log in to your Backgrounds Online account.
  3. A list of all screenings done will be shown. Click on the “Click to View” link in the right column next to the background screening results you wish to view.
  4. Contact Backgrounds Online at 877-288-1588 if you have any technical difficulty or questions related to the results.

 

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