Colorado Springs Notary - Leon Austin


Gaining experience closing loans as a notary signing agent

I came across this question posted on one of the message boards last week:

"I am a new notary and was wondering if anyone could offer any suggestions on how to gain experience closing loans?"

It's a common dilema. Few companies want to give you work, unless you have experience. So how do you get experience?

In many professions you gain experience by serving an apprenticeship. In Germany, for example, there is what is called the 'Dual System'. It's an apprenticeship program that combines training at a company with classroom education. The apprentice goes to school a few days, and works a few days. And they are tested. 


It's a system that has many merits, and works very well. In my opinion, it would be good to have such a system in the United States for notary signing agents: spend a few days a week training at a title company, and a few days a week in the classroom. Then undergo a rigorous series of tests.

As far as I know, there is no formal apprenticeship for notary signing agents. There are various mentor programs. However, for the most part one does their best to be as well trained as they can, and then they hit the ground running. But no matter how well trained they believe they are, they still need someone or some company who is willing to take a chance and give them a closing assignment.

I was extremely fortunate.  I happened to be on a website for notary signing agents one evening and saw a message from a signing service. The person was looking for someone to do a closing.  I sent an email saying that I was available.  I was honest and let them know that it was my first time. They were willing to take a chance on me.

So one of the elements they will need is a bit of luck. In my case it was being in the right place at the right time. But what if they aren't so lucky?  Then they try to make their luck. They increase the odds that they will get a call by signing up with as many companies as possible. Dozens. Perhaps even hundreds. Then hope that one of them will call.

Some may find themselves accepting jobs that pay low fees.  No one wants to work for low pay. But that just might be what they'll have to do. The objective is to get experience.

Gaining experience, in my opinion, is all about having a broad knowledge of mortgage loan closings, and accepting new challenges.  A person can be a notary signing agent for 10 years. But if all they've done over those years is simple refi's, that is not as much as experience as someone who has only been a notary signing agent for 2 years, but they have experience with reverse mortgages, purchase transactions, constructions loans, etc. So I encourage notary signing agents to accept challenging closing assignments. Learn as much as they can from each closing that they do. Treat each one as an opportunity to improve their skills.  Look for opportunities to improve their problem solving skills. Give the best service that they can give, so that they get repeat business.

It's very important that notary signing agents not get hung up on numbers, or be intimidated by them. It is very possible that a notary signing agent who has done only 50 closings can have more 'experience' than a notary signing agent who has done 500. Especially if those 50 closings represent 10 different types of transactions, opposed to the 500 that represent only one or two types.  If they've done 50 closings, and some of them have been reverse mortgages, purchase transactions, etc., they are more valuable to a company, in my opinion, than a person who has never done those, but they have done 500 closings -- all of which were simple refi's. 

Just last week I was commenting to a notary signing agent who said she was amazed at the notary signing agents who claim to have done 8 or more closings a day. My first thought was, are they doing them well? Are they giving the companies and the borrowers superior service?  Getting back to the numbers issue, I think it's better that a notary signing agent focus on doing a couple of closings perfectly, rather than doing a lousy job at many. Yes, they might make a little more money. At first. But how many companies will stop calling them?

There are in fact very many good notary signing agents who are well trained, and they are capable of doing well on their own in a closing. All they need is an opportunity, and a bit of luck. And that is what I sincerely wish all of them, and anyone else who wants to enter this, as a profession: good luck.

Comment balloon 8 commentsLeon Austin • April 17 2007 07:00AM


Great blog Leon! You really make me stop and think sometimes with your blogs! 

I have done 8-9 closings in a day. It is possible, all were within 20 minutes of each other distance wise,  all were fairly small pkgs and took around 30 minutes. No, I didn't get to eat lunch that day and by dinner time I was too tired to eat.  I only do that now and then, usually at EOM, but I don't think I could handle it on a daily basis. My normal limit is 5 per day. There are a lot of varibles to take into account. When I do take on 8 or 9, all documents have to be to me by 8 AM, all of the appts had to have been scheduled at least the day before, and the first appt can't be before 10am so I have time to print all the pkgs.  I could  not do it if I had to run back and forth to  print docs. I think anyone trying to handle that volume on a daily basis would burn out really fast! Plus how often does everyone involved in the loan process get all the docs to you early etc. It has to be very well orchastrated!

Thanks for your great blogs!

Posted by Bonnie Marie DeWolfe (Eagle Ridge Signatures Inc.) over 13 years ago

"My normal limit is 5 per day. There are a lot of varibles to take into account. When I do take on 8 or 9, all documents have to be to me by 8 AM, all of the appts had to have been scheduled at least the day before, and the first appt can't be before 10am so I have time to print all the pkgs."

Bonnie, I'm glad that you commented about the 8 signings or more in a day. It answered a lot of questions. My limit is also 5. Any more than that and the documents would have to be overnighted to the borrower. And all of the closings would have to be in the same block. :)

Many times we'll have to wait a long time for documents.  But if a signing agent receives them the day before, it is possible.  And as you say, it's not the type of thing that a person would be able to do on a daily basis.  I was also thinking about the other responsibilities, such as faxing, etc.

And the bigger the city, and more distance a signing agent has to cover, the more difficult it becomes. This is also part of gaining experience: being able to guage how much time it takes to do the various tasks involved with a closing: printing, going over the documents, driving, the closing itself, faxing (if necessary), status reports, dropping off the documents, ... etc.


Posted by Leon Austin, Colorado Springs Mobile Notary (Mobile Notary Services) over 13 years ago
I agree Leon! I really don't see, with all the varibals, how anyone could do this on a consistant basis. Most of the time I'm happy if I can just get the docs an hour before time to leave! LOL!
Posted by Bonnie Marie DeWolfe (Eagle Ridge Signatures Inc.) over 13 years ago
I think that it depends on the hours worked and the type of Signings.  I have to agree with Bonnie, I have done as many as 12 in a day, but do not make a habbit of it.  The most important thing, like you said leon is keeping the borrowers and the company happy.  Sometimes that takes a little time and effort.
Posted by Benjamin R. Blair (R. Benjamin Blair Inc.) about 13 years ago
I have to commend you on doing 12 in a day. I didn't think it was possible. At least I don't think I could ever do that many.
Posted by Leon Austin, Colorado Springs Mobile Notary (Mobile Notary Services) about 13 years ago
Hello all fellow Signing Agents, I have been a Notary for almost 2 years. After 3-4 a day my brain gets all jumbled up. Especially when they are all from different lenders therefore different types of docs. If they were all from the same lender and all the same loan types that would be easier. I guess the more years that you are signing docs the quicker and easier that doing more than 5 per day will come more easier. Thanks for all the input I see here on Active/Rain.
Posted by Maureen Lazar (1st Choice Mobile Notary) about 13 years ago
I have done four in a day, and been STRESSED!  It is just too much when you have to rely on documents from different lenders and none are in! I try not to over commit because I like to give my undivided attention to the borrower I am currently with and not make them feel rushed into signing a package, they are probably not completely understanding. If I can't allow two hours in scheduled signings, I won't commit! I am very upfront with the borrowers and keep them in the loop if anything is going on with the process.  I too feel it isn't the quantity of loans you have closed but the quality you give in closing them!
Posted by Michele Madison (Nebraska's #1 Notary Services) almost 13 years ago

Michele, 4 is my limit. My income could no doubt be higher, but I know that the quality of service would go down, and I would be under a lot more stress. I'm comfortable with 3 right now.


Posted by Leon Austin, Colorado Springs Mobile Notary (Mobile Notary Services) almost 13 years ago

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