Notary Bulletin Four Mistakes That Will Damage A Notary Signing Agent’s Reputation By David Thun on July 30, 2014 in Signing Professionals Professional conduct is essential for building your reputation as a Notary signing agent. So if you want to keep your prime spot on signing service and title company Notary lists, be sure to avoid the following missteps that can kill your reputation. Unprofessional behavior on social media Inappropriate conduct online can cost you a job before it’s even offered. Notaries need to remember that social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and online message boards are public and are read by industry professionals looking for signing agents, said Herbert Willis, president of Sunshine Signing Connection, Inc., in Port Richey, Florida. “In my opinion, if you aren’t professional on a public forum, this shows how you will react under pressure during a signing. If you talk like that in a public forum, how are you going to deal with the borrower, or a loan officer?” Willis said. “You’re probably going to be confrontational.” Notaries who are rude or insulting — or get into online “flame wars” with other people — automatically go on Willis’ “do not call” list. Show courtesy to others, follow the rules of conduct and keep your language and behavior professional, he said. Competition for signing assignments is fiercer than ever — and bad online behavior doesn’t do your reputation any good. Giving a signer legal advice or opinions about the loan Willis says this is one of the surest ways to ruin a loan signing. “You don’t know what the signer’s situation is,” he said. “If the Notary looks at the interest rate and says ‘That’s too high’, the signer is going to get upset, call the lender and ask why. But the Notary might not know that this signer has a bad credit rating and couldn’t qualify for a better rate.” Signing agents should never give opinions or advice about the terms of a loan, Willis warned. “I have lost clients because Notaries did this,” he said. “If you do that, you’re automatically off my list.” Failing to follow instructions This can cause major issues and negatively impact the signer, Willis said. For example, changing the date and time of a prearranged signing without notifying the lender or missing a deadline to mail a completed loan package could result in the loan not being funded, he said. Willis urged signing agents to always contact the signing service or lender if an issue with a deadline or appointment time comes up. “Make sure you know and understand each company’s procedures and make sure you follow their instructions,” Shawn Murphy, executive vice president with ValuAmerica, Inc., said during an industry panel discussion at the NNA 2014 Conference last June. Panelists at the event stressed that they look closely at the performance of signing agents. Many evaluate every signing. And the results are tracked by lenders. “We tell our vendors to direct more business to signing agents with the positive results,” said panelist Jim Sloan, Vice President of Vendor Management for JPMorgan Chase. “On the flip side, when we get responses that aren’t positive, we exclude those signing agents from our network.” Unprofessional dress and appearance at the signing Willis says signing agents should dress in a manner that’s appropriate for meeting and conducting business. If he receives post-signing feedback that a signing agent’s appearance was unprofessional, or the Notary exhibited poor grooming or hygiene, he won’t call the Notary again. “You don’t have to wear a suit and tie, but you should show up looking professional,” he said. A Tip For New Signing Agents Willis also cautioned less experienced signing agents to use discretion when asking questions in online public forums. Posting questions publicly about basic signing procedures can give lenders or signing services the impression that a Notary doesn’t have the knowledge needed to carry out an assignment. Willis suggested working with a mentor offline or asking others for advice through more private channels, such as email or telephone if there’s something you need to know. David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association. Email Share 11 Comments Add your commentArdel Richter04 Aug 2014I surely hope that a signing service/title co./lender will discuss a situation with the Notary prior to taking a negative action. Once, a Borrower had a question about a charge on the HUD (that he thought was higher than previously discussed), so I told him he should call his LO for clarification. He did and I was stunned to hear him tell the LO that "the Notary said this was too high and wrong". If a Borrower will say something like that when I'm sitting right there and hearing it, what might they say when I'm not there and they think that a statement like that will help their cause?!?M.Krabbe04 Aug 2014GOOD POINTRoland Smith04 Aug 2014I agree with Ardel. A negative comment alone does not necessarily accurately reflect what happen. The Notary should be given a chance to respond.Eva Cannon04 Aug 2014Going on the assumption that I haven't been perfect in the 20 years that I've been a Notary Signing Agent, I probably have done something wrong or offended someone at some point, but I've never heard back from any of the many signing companies that use my services to indicate there is a problem, or that they'll no longer use my services. If they would do that it certainly would be appreciated, at least by me.Julie Brickley05 Aug 2014Professionalism and being in control of a situation is always the best rule of thumb. I agree with everything in article. As for a situation such as Ardel mentioned, I am always the one to call the lender/title officer. I explain the situation first (on speaker phone) and then allow the borrower to converse. Something along the lines of "Hello, this is Julie and I am at the table with Mr. Smith. While reviewing the numbers on the HUD, Mr. Smith brought up some concerns that some charges were higher than what you discussed with him.". Professional and in control. Once you've explained the situation, there is no need for the borrower to explain. Also, every Signing/Title Company I have worked for requires a follow-up/completiion report. This is your opportunity to report any situations that arose and how they were handled.. before the borrower has opportunity. Good companies know there are difficult borrowers, and if they are a regular customer, they know their notary. As for unprofessional comments and attitudes on public forums.. I agree, keep it private; you never know who is listening. Don't bite the hand of the dog the feeds you. Just common business sense.Linda Russell06 Aug 2014During the signing the borrower always wants reassurance that what they are doing is the best available. Being negative regarding their fees or rates makes them lose confidence in the business at hand. I always tell the borrower that their transaction has been customized to fit their situation. This is an easy way of avoiding having to comment on their loan. The word "customized or tailored" seems to make the borrower feel as they have been given special treatment and that their needs have been addressed. I always work hard not say something negative but would hope the signing company or title company would always give us a chance to clarify anything that was said at the table.Geri Payne09 Aug 2014Is it illegal for a notary in the stat of Tennessee to notarize their own signature?National Notary Association11 Aug 2014Hello Geri. A Tennessee Notary Public is not permitted to notarize his or her own signature. Please see this quote from the Tennessee Notary Public Handbook published by the TN Secretary of State's office: “A notary should not acknowledge his or her own signature nor notarize any signature if he or she is a party to the transaction or an agent of a party taking an acknowledgment.” Tennessee Notary Public Handbook, available at http://tennessee.gov/sos/bus_svc/notary.htm.Debbie Lewellen15 Aug 2014YES, it's illegal for a notary in any state to notarize their own signature.Cynthia Gonzalez Trinity Florida Signing Agent18 Feb 2015One of the key factors to a successful signing is to be prepared and take direction from what is required. You are not the lender nor a real estate agent at the signing. You are strictly preforming a signing as a legal notary public of the state.Catherine Ostrom05 Oct 2015To Linda Russell. I would not say what you are saying. If I were the borrower, that would leave me thinking that I got a good deal. There are many different loan programs available and not all lenders offer all of those. The borrower, in fact may have gotten a better deal elsewhere. You don't need to give a positive statement in order to avoid a negative one. Just tell them the truth; that you aren't allowed to give an opinion one way or another, since notaries are not loan experts. It's just like we can't give legal advice or opinions because we aren't attorneys. I have done title loans for autos that have ridiculous interest rates. No way would I tell the borrower that the loan was "customized" just for them.Leave a Comment Required * Name * Email *(for verfication purposes only) Comment * Enter the text shown in this image *(text is case sensitive)All comments are reviewed and if approved, will display.