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Signing Agents Call On Mortgage Industry To Improve Loan Signings

With Notary Signing Agents under growing pressure to bolster their training and professionalism, many NSAs are urging mortgage industry leaders to improve the way signing agencies handle assignments.

Ohio-based NSA Claudine Osborne said that Signing Agents are facing a plethora of new issues and challenges that need to be addressed by the industry.

Mirroring a broad consensus among NSAs, Osborne said that typical fees paid for assignments do not account for loan packages that have increased significantly in size and complexity. Osborne estimated that most loan packages she handles have nearly doubled in size over the past few years. She also often deals with documents sent late and companies that don’t allow enough time for assignments to be completed properly.

“We may have three or four assignments in a single day,” Osborne said. “If a lender doesn’t get us documents on time, the Signing Agent gets the blame. Some packages even have instructions saying, ‘If the documents arrive late, you may not use that as an excuse to be late for the assignment.’ Well, where does the blame go?”

California Signing Agent Nan D. Allen said late document delivery has become a more common problem for her in recent years. “Last minute jobs are now the norm, and a lot of times Notaries are treated like puppets — expected to jump at every demand,” she said.

Maine NSA Anne McBride suggested that part of the issue is a need for better communication between Signing Agents and the companies that contract their services. “It does often feel like the signing companies don’t understand what our job is,” she said in a post on LinkedIn, though she added the problem isn’t universal and she still has a “great relationship” with many companies.

Osborne said that while she does work with many companies that treat Signing Agents well, she still encounters problem companies three to four times each week. She said she would like to see more open discussion between lenders, title companies and Signing Agents to discuss these issues and find positive ways to make loan document assignments better for everyone involved.

“I hope that as we move forward, lenders and title companies listen to us,” she said. “Sometimes it’s very hard to get a hold of somebody on the lender’s side who can answer questions or assist with issues. We have to wait a couple of hours for an email or phone call, but don’t have a couple of hours to wait. Making sure that there is someone available who is in charge of the loan file we can reach immediately and get direct answers from would be a big help.”

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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