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This post was authored by Tim Williamson.
Hi everyone, Jody asked me to write up a narrative about how my first loan signing went. She asked me to talk about how I felt, what I feel that the client felt, and any other takeaways that a new notary signing agent might want to know about before their first loan signing. This'll probably be pretty brief so here we go!
I was driving home from my day job and was about 5 minutes...
from getting home when I saw a notification pop through on my phone. I have one of those vent-mounted thingies so that I can control my podcasts easily and more safely when I'm driving, and fortunately it makes it so that a text coming through is easy to tell a couple quick details. I saw that the text was from a loan signing agency with a signing about 15 minutes from my house, so I quickly pulled to the side of the highway so I could read it over.
I had a million thoughts running through my head as I took the minute to pull to the side, I couldn't believe it! I had just gotten my stamp the previous day and started filling out my Snapdocs.com profile, but my background check hadn't come through yet and I hadn't even completed the profile!
The text message gave just a few details, time, date and zip code. So once I pulled to the side I was able to click into the link provided in the text and make a decision. Clicking into the link pulled up snapdocs' website, and it gave more information about the assignment. I saw that they were offering $100, it was a sellers package with 37 pages of documents, but that the signing was in 2 hours! I couldn't believe it. I felt completely unprepared and wasn't even confident that I was ready at all.
I remember sitting there in the car with my thumb wavering back and forth over the accept or decline button and thinking about all of the reasons why I couldn't do this signing. But, instead of listening to those voices, I just decided that I would give it a shot, and that the worst that could happens is that I would mess it up, and not get another offer from this loan signing service. The thought raced through my mind that the most important thing to do was to take action, no matter how uncomfortable it felt. So I did it, I clicked accept.
Within a minute, I was back on the road and my heart was pounding. I wasn't even back up to highway speed when I got another text that came through letting me know that I was assigned the file!! Wow! I couldn't wait to get home and tell Jody.
When I pulled into the driveway and ran inside, I knew that the pressure was on. I had less than 2 hours to make sure I had everything together for my first signing and to get to the client on time, confident and prepared to show him that I was an extension of the escrow officer that he had been working with, a mortgage document professional, whether I felt like it or not.
I opened the door and told Jody, "Can you please get an outfit together for me?" She knew right away that I had gotten a signing and started screaming and jumping up and down. The big kids were looking over into the kitchen in confusion and Jody just kept yelling and jumping. "Daddy got a signing! Daddy got a signing!" She was so excited, and the feeling poured through our whole house as I thought about all the things I had to do in such a short time.
I quickly jumped into the shower to get cleaned up, because I was SUPER anxious. I had started sweating and my nerves were on pinpoint as I got home and started scrambling to get things together. Once I got showered and changed, I was able to make sure I had everything I needed in my briefcase and started to work on getting the documents printed, and that's when the biggest wrench got thrown into our preparation.
I had downloaded and printed the documents from the snapdocs assignment on our new printer and once I had gotten my supplies together I sat down to start going through the docs and flagging signatures and initials pages, reading documents that I had gotten an overview through from the Loan Signing System course, but that of course were a little bit different once they were in front of me. I had also downloaded and printed the instructions provided by the loan signing agency, and they were the first thing that I had read over. The instructions were pretty easy and clear, simple things like make sure you contact the client to confirm the time, and sign in blue ink and how the client needed to sign, and how to dress.
One of the lines in the instructions said "Loan documents contain both letter and legal size papers. Make sure that you are printing the correct size". Of course from going through the Loan Signing System course, I knew this, but I was about 3/4 through the documents when I realized that there were no legal size papers included in my stack. I thought that maybe I hadn't checked a setting right in the print preview screen, but finished flagging the stack of documents and decided to print them again, and make sure I got the settings right on Adobe before I printed.
At this point I had about 45 minutes to be leaving my house to be at the appointment on time.
My second print batch STILL didn't have any legal size documents and I began to feel a bit panicked. I didn't know why there were no legal sized documents printing! I thought I had the settings correct on the new printer, and I had looked at each doc and didn't see anything cut off, but the Loan Signing agency had specifically said in their instructions to make sure to print both sizes. So I didn't know what the problem was! I was messing around with the printer settings, and trying to update the driver, which I already had done, when I noticed that the extra tray had NOT REGISTERED and it wasn't showing legal size paper as available to print! Oh my... my heart dropped and I knew in my guts that this was a bad situation to be in. I had less than an hour to get these documents printed correctly and to be at the client's house and I didn't even know what I had done wrong to get this printer set up.
I'm fairly tech savvy, I feel like I know how to load a printer on to a computer or network, I've done it many times over my adult life and thought that I had everything set up correctly. But I also know that when I don't have something right, Google can come to the rescue with a website or YouTube video walking through the usually simple process so that you can get that DIY job done. But I'm telling you, I don't know if it was my panicked brain or what, but I could NOT find the right thing to get this printer installed correctly on the network. I tried page after page and they were all how to install your printer on a Windows 7 system, which was old news and completely outdated. There was only one relevant YouTube video that was coming up and it was showing a screen that was also Windows 7 style, had different menus that my Windows 10, and I couldn't find the autodetect button that all of these articles kept referring to!!
So in the midst of my panicking I thought about what I could logically do to resolve this so that I could get the job done. I asked Jody to get on the phone with Brother to see if they could help set up the printer and see where I was coming up short. I also looked through the documents again and couldn't find any documents that appeared to be cut off, and that was reassuring. I then decided that I would send a message to the loan signing agency and ask them if I was missing something, but it didn't appear to have any legal sized documents.
They responded fairly quickly that they were reaching out to the escrow officer for confirmation. At this point I was almost out of time. I was ready to go get in the car and head over to Fed Ex and see if I could print the documents on their printer to make sure that I got them. But, the escrow officer came through... she said NO LEGAL SIZED DOCUMENTS in this package! Phew! What a relief! It cut so close, I immediately jumped in my car to head to the appointment, and made it right on time!
That is a huge takeaway... the loan signing agency didn't put specific instructions, just template instructions that didn't even apply to this situation! I know that I'll have to keep an eye out for that in the future.
When I arrived at the client's house, I was again super nervous, but I know that I have the ability to work through these documents, and that I felt confident explaining everything that I felt like I needed to. But I walked into the situation with a smile on my face and my stomach a-flutter.
Since we're operating in the middle of a COVID pandemic, we met outside in the seller's garage, the doors open, and with masks on and 6 feet between the two of us. The first interactions with the seller were pleasant, but I knew by going over the documents that he was selling the property on behalf of another party with the same last name, which was indicated as deceased. So in all of my conversations with the client, I tried to have empathy toward that situation. He told me that he was selling the home because his grandfather, who he was named after had passed away. It felt special to be involved in that, and to be able to give the client the opportunity to talk if he was inclined.
As I started going over the documents with the client, we immediately ran into problems. There was discrepancies with the numbers, according to his understanding, from the very first document. Because of the training I had from Mark Wills, I knew that if there's complication with the numbers, I knew I had to get on the phone with the escrow officer and clear that up to move forward. Since I didn't have the escrow officer's number, just her name, I googled the company and called the main office number, asked for the officer by name and was transferred right over. I explained to the escrow officer the situation and she was able to verify that the numbers on our paperwork were NOT correct, she had the seller line through and initial, and we were ready to move on.
Well let me tell you, I don't know if this is typical, but as I moved through the documents I kept finding errors, typos, and the seller kept finding things that he said wasn't right too. I ended up calling the escrow officer 4 times throughout the 30 minutes I was at the seller's home! She was so pleasant every time, and very patient explaining to the seller what the reasoning behind certain provisions were. By the end of the signing he was not happy with the package. He was not happy with the escrow officer and he was not happy with the situation. He expressed to me that certain provisions of the package were explained to him differently during the loan origination process, and that now that the documents are on the table, the escrow officer is telling him differently. I was able to empathize with him, and talk to him about his options about whether he wanted to move forward, and ultimately he decided that he would.
We finished the package, I notarized my portion of the documents, I filled out my journal and I was ready to go. I asked the seller if I had done well explaining the documents and he said that I did, he also apologized because my first signing was complicated by the situation. I thanked the gentleman and got back in my car.
The instructions from the loan signing service said that I was to contact a courier service for pickup the following day, so as I was driving home I had a different idea. I called the escrow officer back and thanked her profusely for the opportunity to sign for her, and thanked her for her patience and helpfulness. I also suggested that I could drop the package off at her office first thing the following morning, saving her the courier fee. The office was only a few minutes out of the way from my normal morning drive, so it was no extra time for me, and I was really hoping to get a chance to get in front of my first escrow officer! I thought I would be able to express my gratefulness and let her know I was eager to resolve any problems that came up from the package. She agreed that it would be helpful to drop it off instead of hiring the courier.
The following morning I showed up at her office at 8:01 AM. The receptionist was extremely friendly and accommodating and went back and forth between me and the back offices several times, but ultimately she said that the escrow officer had gotten on a meeting when she first arrived, and wouldn't be able to meet with me. I was really disappointed! But, I dropped a note in the mail that day just saying thanks, and noted that in the future I will still be able to take advantage of similar opportunities to develop a relationship with real estate professionals within my community.
At the end of the day, this was a fantastic experience! I was able to break through the fear of an unknown situation, do multiple tasks that I've never done before and build relationships with my community members and people involved in the real estate profession in my area. I look forward to future signings as my wife and I develop this business together.
Thanks for reading, I'll see you next time!