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At the end of this post I give tips on what pieces of this process take the longest so you can get them started right away! I’ll give you a hint, that’s why my husband got his first signing before I did!
So, the process to becoming a loan signing agent is actually a relatively SIMPLE and FAST one. I can’t think of any other business that I’ve explored over the years, or a business idea that my husband has pitched to me or actually done, that got me the ability to earn my own income in such a short amount of time with such a small investment.
Get your notary commission through your state. Each state has different requirements and it’s my understanding that some states only require an application which is similar to a credit card application. Here in Oregon state, I had to take an exam to prove that I had studied the revised statutes and administrative rules governing the requirements for notarizing within the state. The Oregon Secretary of State hosts a free training on their website to do this and once you pass the exam you have to pay $40 to process the application.
Get a stamp and Journal.
-A stamp. You are required to have a notary stamp that has specific wording according to your state, so that you can legally notarize documents. There are a lot of vendors that provide these stamps, including the National Notary Association or NNA as part of their package deals for notaries, or you could purchase it individually. I purchased a package through the NNA that included a stamp, but my husband purchased his stamp through Amazon for only $13.25.
The stamp from the NNA ended up costing more, about $29 individually, but at this point in my loan signing business, this stamp cost me more than just money, it cost me TIME! My husband’s stamp from Amazon took about 6 days to arrive at our house, and mine has been on order for about 2 weeks and STILL hasn’t arrived. I also had to upload my commission from the state to the NNA website, which I did the same day I received the commission. But then it was crickets. A few days later I called to see if they had shipped my stamp and they told me, oh, you should email it, not upload it. At this point, it's taken 4 emails and 4 calls before I finally got someone to make sure they received my commission. And seriously, as of yesterday, they STILL couldn’t tell me the status of the stamp. If you use my affiliate link to check out the stamp my husband ordered on Amazon which is here, you can see the format of the stamp, and they give links to your state specific stamp if you want to check the pricing or requirements for your specific state.
-A journal. All notarial acts need to be recorded in a journal, and here in Oregon the laws are very clear on exactly what information needs to be recorded in your notarial journal. I also got a journal included in my NNA package but you could order one individually from the website from between $24 and $49. My husband purchased his journal from Amazon as well, for $7.99. Neither of us were very satisfied with the journals we got, and another notary signing agent recommended something different so I ended up buying another journal from Amazon that is specific to Notary Signing Agents. It lets you record multiple notarial acts for a single person or a single transaction, without repeatedly completing the lines in a journal, and having the client sign over and over again. Also, each entry has a separate page so you don’t have to worry about privacy for each signer. It seems like an excellent time saving tool and I can't wait to try it out.
By the way, I remembered in my notary training modules through the state that there were certain physical requirements for the journal that had me worried once I had the Notary Signing Agent journal in my hands, like that it was spiral bound and that there was only one signature block for multiple documents being signed. My husband and I spent some time researching the Oregon administrative rules and found that the requirements I remembered reading said that the journal needed to be bound so that pages couldn’t be easily added or removed, which I feel is true even with this spiral bound journal. I also found in the laws that it says it is OK to have only one signature when a client is performing multiple notarial acts at once.
Just make sure that before you buy something like this you check with your own state’s rules and regulations! Also stay tuned for a future surprise that I have in the works regarding journals, I’m really excited about it and can't wait to share it!
Get a printer and scanner.
If you’re going to be working with loan signing services, which is typically what most new agents do to learn the business and to begin to establish a reputation, you’ll need to get a dual tray laser printer that prints both letter and legal pages. Loan documents come in both sizes and they MUST be printed on the right length paper. These printers are really expensive!
The most common printer that I’ve found for this is a Brother Dual Tray printer, but it’s selling on Amazon today for $675! I searched and searched for a similar printer but nothing that I found had reviews that made me feel good about the purchase, and no one except Amazon had this printer in stock! I was about to purchase the printer when I came across a piece of advice that someone mentioned, you could purchase the printer with a letter tray, and buy and install a second tray for a super discount! I ended up buying the printer and second tray from Amazon for a total of $397.
This did require some extra set up, and even when I thought I had the printer up and running, it ended up not automatically feeding the correct paper sizes when I printed a PDF document with both letter and legal papers. I ended up spending about 3 hours on the phone with Brother customer service to have them help me figure out how to get the thing working, but in the end we got it! Since this was so confusing, and the Youtube videos or websites don’t do a good job explaining this, I’m going to do another blog post or video explaining how to set this up in the future.
While insurance isn’t technically a supply, and it may not be required by your state, its better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it, and I would rather pay for errors and omissions or E&O insurance so that I can feel protected, and not under the fear that I could get sued for a mistake I made. Also, all of the loan signing services that I have looked at so far have required E&O at some level in order to receive business from their services. This is a totally confusing topic! There are different TYPES of E&O insurance and there are different dollar limits of protection for E&O insurance. In the future I plan on doing a deep dive into what I’ve found out about E&O and the benefits of the different types of plans and limits based on what I’ve learned. Here’s a quick easy take away for what I’ve found so far, and a good place to start: the insurance must be specific to a notary loan signing agent duty.
Standard E&O insurance doesn’t cover LOAN SIGNING so make sure that is included in whatever plan you end up buying. My package purchase from the NNA included 4 years of insurance for some really cheap price, about $108 for the four years, covering up to $25,000 of liability. But as I mentioned I found that it doesn’t include coverage for signing LOAN DOCUMENTS, which is a problem for me and you! I ended up talking to the NNA and purchased a different insurance plan that does cover loan signing, it was the same price, $108, but it only lasts for 1 year. As a bonus though, this plan protects me for up to $100,000 liability.
My husband on the other hand went above and beyond me in this category. He purchased a loan signing E&O insurance policy from BiBerk, which was recommended to us by multiple people, it’s $31.75 per month, totaling $381 for the year. His plan protects him for up to $1million in liability. So I’m still not sure where I sit on what insurance plan I’m going to keep long term. It’s my understanding that some loan signing services and some banks won’t employ your service unless you have 100K or even 1Mil of insurance, so take that into consideration when purchasing yours. I’m not an insurance expert and I can’t recommend the right plan so that you feel protected and at the same time meet the requirements set forth by signing agents and banks to do business. That’ll have to be a personal decision that you make for the future of your business.
Wow, and that’s actually all you NEED to get started signing loan documents. That is the bare minimum. But I can’t in good conscience as your friend and mentor cut you loose like that because this business is built on reputation. If you get hired to sign documents at this point, it’s quite likely that you’ll make a mistake. Loan packages can be hundreds of pages long with many forms to fill out. If you do them wrong, or just don’t do them at all, you wont keep getting business! Pretty soon you’ll be a notary signing agent with nothing to sign and feel nothing but frustration that this business doesn’t work.
Well thankfully there are a couple more things you can do to give yourself the education and training that will make you knowledgeable about each loan document, and give you the confidence to explain and complete each form required for the loan package.
So Step 5...
There are a couple certifications and courses that you should complete and may need to complete in order to get signings. The first is Notary Essentials by the NNA. If your state doesn’t have notary specific training, I recommend that you take this so that you can become an expert in notary functions, which is the key job that you’ll have multiple times in a loan package. If you’re not notarizing correctly, everything will fall apart.
Second is the NNA’s Notary Signing Agent Exam and Background Screening. There’s also a course to go along with this which is one of the selections on the page linked. But I would suggest not taking it but instead completing the Loan Signing System course. I have completed both and found the NNA Signing Agent course to be lacking compared to the LSS.
So I have to tell you about the Loan Signing System. When I first started researching this opportunity, I was watching random YouTube videos and visiting websites to try to piece together the process, but I definitely kept running into some frustrations in not knowing for sure what I was even going to see when I went to my first signing. Also, over and over again I started seeing references to this course and started seeing people’s testimonials that this course got them into the best position to start their loan signing career. I also couldn’t find any course that even compares to the depth of this course. I listened to a couple podcasts of people who had taken the course, and watched some independent video testimonials and I talked with my husband and we decided that purchasing this course is the BEST way to get BEST prepared to be a successful signing agent.
I’ve now completed the course and gotten my Loan Signing System certification. This video isn’t a review about the course, but I have to say that I’m SO glad i bought it. I feel ABSOLUTELY prepared to go into my first signing, and I have videos walking me through each type of loan signing in case I need refreshers. And as a huge bonus I have access to a private Facebook group where I can get direct access to Mark Wills and thousands of LSA’s to ask questions when I get confused about certain things. That group has been worth the price of the course guys. I’ve been able to connect with LSA’s from OR and everyone is so friendly, helpful, and encouraging.
You guys I can’t tell you that you HAVE to buy this course to be a successful signing agent. But I can tell you that I WOULD buy this course again if I had to start this process over and I completely endorse this course as a training to my dearest friends, including you. That's why I’ve provided an affiliate link for the course right here. And if you use it I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me build this website to help you and others just like you and me who are starting out on this journey.
So finally, as promised at the beginning of this article, I want to give you my advice on the first things you should do.
First, get your commission from the state; this is a multi step process and it culminates with your purchase of the stamp, which since it needs to be specifically manufactured, and can take a bit of time. I did my training and exam on about 12/11 and got my approved application emailed back the following Monday. I needed to have that form notarized and sent into the state to get my commission which took a couple more days. I got my commission back from the state on 12/17 and I was an official notary, and could order my stamp. I then reached out to the NNA to get the stamp that was included in the package I purchased, and here we are 12/31 and I STILL haven’t gotten my stamp.
Yesterday I ordered a stamp from Amazon because I have had 3 opportunities to do signings that I haven’t been able to accept because I still don't have that stamp!!
Next, I would suggest taking the NNA’s Notary Signing Agent exam and Background Screening. This will get you NNA Certified which is required before you can even start the process of signing up with some of the loan signing service databases. I applied for the background screening and did the exam on 12/19, and got an automatically generated message from the NNA that said the background screening would be complete in a few days. I then got another message that said because of COVID, processing times could take up to 30 days. So I suggest you do these two steps first! Hopefully that will get you on track to get you registered with signing services as soon as possible, and you'll start getting calls!
My husband signed up for Snapdocs Tuesday and got his first signing on Wednesday! He didn't even have a complete profile because his background check hadn't come through yet. He already put $100 dollars in his pocket! I look forward to telling you guys all about my first signing as soon as I get it.
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Hi I'm Jody, I'm a mom, a wife and a new loan signing agent. Come with me as I explore this fun opportunity!
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