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Borrower Myths About Notary Signing Agents

Prevent problems at a loan signing by helping borrowers understand your role as a Notary Signing Agent.

Notary signing agents often have to deal with borrowers who misunderstand the NSA’s role at a closing, and that can lead to difficult signings and upset consumers who take out their frustrations on you.

Here are the most common borrower myths and misconceptions your fellow signing agents shared on social media — along with some tips on how to prevent the problems with loan signings these misunderstandings cause.

Myth One: The Notary is an employee of the lender or title company.
 

Many borrowers believe I am an employee of the title company,” said Margaret Paddock of Cottonwood, Arizona. “One person was upset because we had to call the loan office for an explanation. He thought I should be able to explain the documents.”

Of course, explaining documents and offering advice is something signing agents aren’t allowed to do.

Tip: When contacting a signer to set up an appointment, use the opportunity to explain your role during the signing, and that any questions about the loan terms should be directed to the lender to title company.

“The borrower's conception of our role is in the hands of the Notary signing agent,” said Larry Emsweller of Munster, Indiana. “Setting the proper tone is entirely in our hands. Present yourself in the manner in which you desire to be perceived.”

Myth Two: The NSA is delivering money.
 

Some borrowers mistakenly assume the signing agent is delivering them money from the loan transaction. David Wayne Schuster of South Chesterfield, Virginia, said he has encountered signers who expected him to show up with a check in hand. “Of course, they are very upset when I tell them ‘No’ and ask them to please call the lender ASAP,” he said.

During one signing in Indiana, an angry borrower even threatened the signing agent with a gun demanding money from her that he was expecting from a lender. Fortunately the agent stayed calm and was able to talk the signer into letting her leave unharmed.

Tip: As mentioned previously, explaining to the borrower your role and what you can and cannot do prior to the signing can help prevent problems stemming from misunderstandings. Remember that you can be put at risk if a borrower mistakenly believes you are carrying large amounts of money. Be sure to take steps to protect yourself while on loan signing assignments.

Myth Three: The Notary can offer an opinion about the terms of the loan.
 

Some borrowers ask the signing agent for advice whether the borrower got a “good deal” on the loan. Brenda Parsons Tucker of Acton, California, said she’s been asked this before by signers. “Since I am doing a lot of signings, they ask if I can give them my opinion on whether or not they are getting a good interest rate,” she said.

Tip: Notaries are independent third-party professionals contracted to ensure all loan documents are signed and notarized properly, then deliver the completed loan package. Just as Notary signing agents cannot answer questions about the details of a loan, it’s not appropriate to give opinions to a signer whether the terms of a loan are a “good deal” or not. If a signer wants your opinion on interest rates or other terms of the loan, explain that you are not authorized to give such advice and refer them to the loan officer.

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

Related Articles:

Five Types Of Signers Notary Signing Agents Encounter

Four Mistakes That Will Damage A Notary Signing Agent’s Reputation

8 Comments

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John Axt

05 Oct 2015

This becomes a "gray" area in my mind. Page 3 (some are later) of the HUD clearly states the terms of the loan. I fail to see how pointing them out is giving advice or "going over the loan terms".

Elise

07 Oct 2015

My Title company partners, LO's, and all borrowers always appreciate that we know the documents well, and can explain them (in detail, if needed - and always without opinion). As a professional in lending since 1993, I wouldn't hire an NSA who could not properly explain each and every document. We charge a premium for our closing present services, and it is happily paid by our clients because they know we care for the borrower enough to provide a thorough closing. Please know your documents. A happy LO, is one who can trust you with his/her borrowers at closing. A happy LO will request you to facilitate each of their closings.

Joe Ewing

27 Apr 2016

When you can explain each document logically you are ready to hand your signers pens and a stack of papers and say "sign them"! You will follow along page by page with the copies. When they are done trade stacks to review and Notarize. Gather up your pens and say goodbye.

Linda Tracy

14 Sep 2017

I always offer explanations to borrowers of each document and point out the places where their questions can be answered. At the beginning of each session, I explain I'm unable to explain their loan terms since I was not there during the process. I never say I'm "just the notary", it's not a confidence building declaration. As I hand each page or group of pages, i.e. Deed of Trust, I give a brief explanation of the document (s) with humor and point out the important details. A loan closing can be a long and boring session, so I try to give it lightness when explaining the docs. I've also found at about the half way point, borrowers are beginning to tire, so humor keeps them happy and the signing moving.

Patricia Warmack

14 Sep 2017

Notaries are not allowed to give explanations of the documents to signers. It constitutes practice of law without a license. I am not permitted to explain documents as a NSA and then notarize some of those same documents as a notary public. They have to call the LO or title company if they want explanations.

Laryn

08 May 2018

By law and NSA should not be providing an explanation of any closing documents other than what and where they should be signing.

Darlene Leyva

04 Oct 2018

By law we cannot provide explanations which does make it frustrating for the signers who are not sure of what they are doing or getting into. The entire package should be explained by the LO or title company before we show up, thus, making a pleasant experience for the signers. Too many times, and if we took a poll this would easily show, the signers don't fully understand or comprehend what they are signing and since LO's and title companies get phone calls from the signing table, they know this is a constant issue. Proactiveness on their part would make it a pleasant experience for all.

VIVIAN V MOBLEY

09 Apr 2019

I signed up to be a loan signing agent I'm very nervous about this although I'm without a computer right now because mine doesn't work I will have it fixed and about a week but what I'm asking is if you will be my mentor I want to do this right and I want to say thanks for all this information it is very helpful

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