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Notary Bulletin

Notary Signing Agent essentials: Do’s and don’ts of a loan-signing assignment

I'm often asked, “How does a Notary Signing Agent conduct a loan signing assignment?”

The first step in knowing how to conduct a loan signing is understanding the Signing Agent’s role in the transaction.

Outside of the obvious responsibility of gathering signatures, dates and initials on the loan documents, our role is collecting them in a manner that makes the borrower(s) feel comfortable.

While we are not there to explain the loan documents or take the place of the loan officer, we are there to provide a positive signing experience.

You don't accomplish this by setting the loan docs in front of the borrower and saying, “I'm just the Notary,” then sit back and watch them sign their documents.

So what do you do? I always like to refer to my dear friend and fellow signing service owner, Jennifer Garland, who says it best: “A Notary Signing Agent should always cover the ‘what’ and the ‘where’ but never discuss the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ during a loan signing.”

Do present the “what” and “where 

A knowledgeable NSA should know “where” all the pertinent information (the “what'') exists within the loan documents and then should be able to point out that information to a borrower.

For instance, a Signing Agent should be able to pull out the borrower's Note (the promise to repay the bank) and point to the interest rate printed on the document so the borrower can read it for themselves and decide if they want to sign that loan document

In this example, the Signing Agent was able to point out “the what” (the borrower’s interest rate) and “the where” (the location within the documents).

This is how every loan document should be presented to the borrower.

You conduct a loan signing by simply pointing out pertinent information that is clearly printed on a particular loan document and allow the borrower either to read the full document or be satisfied with the information you have shown them. Then you simply instruct them on where to sign, date or initial.

You repeat “the what” and “the where” on every loan document, and that is how you get through a loan signing.

Don’t discuss the “how” and “why”

Let's address the “how” and “why” that a Signing Agent should NEVER address at a signing appointment.

Let's say you are pointing out the interest rate to the borrower and they ask, “How come my rate is so high?” or “Why is that my interest rate?”

That is when you want to let them know that you are only there to notarize their documents, and those questions are best answered by the real estate professional they are working with. At that point you can offer to get someone on the phone so the borrower can get that question answered.

We never answer “why” or “how come” something is on their loan documents because that crosses the line into providing legal advice, which is unauthorized for anyone other than a licensed attorney or financial planner.

And frankly, it's the best practice to have the borrower’s loan officer, realtor or whoever gave you the loan signing answer the borrower’s questions

One of the best parts of our job is that we are not there to sell the loan or convince borrowers to sign anything. We point out information that is clearly shown on the paperwork and let the borrower decide if they want to sign.

This is why being educated on loan paperwork is such a critical part of conducting a loan signing.

The loan documents

You want to be familiar with all the loan documents you will handle at a signing appointment before taking signings so you can conduct the perfect signing.

A good way to do this is to get a list of the titles of common loan documents — the Note, Mortgage, Deed of Trust, Name Affidavit, Compliance Agreement, etc. — then simply Google them. Examples of these documents are readily available online. Security instruments such as the Deed of Trust or Mortgage can be downloaded from Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac’s website.

Or you can take a course like the Loan Signing System that will show you step by step how to get through the signing process.

Mark Wills of Loan Signing System is a Notary educator, a mentor to more than 4,000 Notary Signing Agents and a Forbes Real Estate Council Member. For more information on how to market your loan signing agent business, please go to

Additional Resources:

Notary Signing Agent Resources



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