Amanda Farrell - 2 years ago
7 Tips for Your First Loan Signing
There are multiple real estate professionals involved in a closing, but it’s the face of the notary that the borrowers often remember. As a representative of those professionals working diligently behind the scenes, notary signing agents must be able to deliver the highest caliber of service and conduct the closing following the contracting company’s instructions.
To help notaries prepare for their first loan signing appointment, here are seven steps to take before, during, and after the signing.
Steps to complete a loan signing
- Become familiar with closing documents
- Confirm time, date, and location
- Carefully read the special instructions
- Review and print all closing documents
- Call the borrower to confirm information
- Conduct the loan signing
- Return documents to the contracting company
Become familiar with closing documents
Even after becoming an official certified signing specialist, you’ll want to take some time to get familiar with all the types of documents you’ll come across in the closing package. Start by reviewing the critical closing documents, including the Deed, the Mortgage (or Deed of Trust), the Promissory Note, and the Notice of Right to Cancel or Right to Rescind.
Other documents include:
- Final Closing Disclosure
- ALTA Settlement Disclosure
- Title documents like the Commitment
- Mortgage Servicing Disclosure
- 4506-T (tax form)
- Patriot Act Form
- Occupancy and Finacial Status Affidavit
- Signature Affidavit and AKA Statement
- Other affidavits and riders
Not every type of real estate transaction will require the same paperwork. For instance, a Veteran Affairs (VA) lender is advised to skip the 4506-T forms. The Right to Cancel or Rescind is only relevant for refinances, home equity loans, or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) and doesn’t apply to the sale of a new home. A cash deal will have some title documents, like the settlement disclosure and deed, but there will be no lender documents.
As you conduct more loan signings, you’ll become more comfortable with each type of document, but remember when presenting the documents to signers to avoid providing unauthorized legal advice.
Confirm the time, date, and location of the signing
There are a few ways you may receive an assignment for a loan signing. Some loan signing agents contract directly with the title company, law firm, or lender involved in the transaction, while others start by working for a mobile notary network.
Regardless of how the assignment is received, confirm the time, date, and location of the signing with the company. You should receive an agreement or contract with itemized assignment details, including the address, your fee, and special instructions. Keep this paperwork for your records when filing taxes.
Find out how much travel time it will take to get to the closing location and plan where to park.
Carefully read special instructions
When you receive the loan package, there are often additional instructions listed either in the body of the email or as a separate attachment. Lenders, settlement agents, title insurance underwriters, and other professionals involved in the transaction may have specific instructions based on their preferences and internal processes. If any clarification is needed, contact the contracting company immediately.
Review and print all closing documents
Within these documents is sensitive information about the borrower called non-public private information or NPPI. As a loan signing agent, it’s your responsibility to protect the privacy of the borrow and prevent any unauthorized disclosures or use. Protect this information as if it’s your own.
Documents may be delivered to the notary in several ways. Some of those include:
- Secured Email
- Password-protected link to a portal or website
- Other online applications you may need to download
- Sent directly to the borrower – common for home equity loans or refinancing packages
Review the documents for any errors, blanks, incomplete pages, inconsistencies, or formatting issues before printing but avoid dwelling on personal information. While doing this, keep the following Notary Signing Code of Conduct Guiding Principle on Privacy and Confidentiality in mind:
6.3. Scrutiny of Documents
The Notary Signing Agent will not inspect or examine the closing documents beyond what is needed to determine the requirements and conditions for the assignment and to complete any journal entries for notarizations on the documents.
If you notice issues like the incorrect borrower or an applicant spouse’s name missing on some forms, contact the contracting company to resolve them.
Before printing, check the special instructions for:
- 🖨 How to print: Printer settings may require either legal paper or letter size paper.
- ⏱ When to print: Updates to documents may happen just a few hours before the closing.
- 📑 How many copies to print.
Check the closing documents after printing for any smudges or misprints. Typically, there will be two sets, one for the signing and one for the borrower. If the borrower requests electronic copies, provide him or her with the title company’s contact information.
💡Notary tip: Dual-try laser printers and PDF software like Adobe Acrobat are best for printing closing documents. Test out your equipment and troubleshoot before accepting your first loan signing assignment.
Keep all documents ordered as they were received. Use sticky notes to mark critical documents with answers to borrowers’ most common questions like when the monthly payment is due, how much the monthly payment is, and closing costs.
Call the borrower to confirm information
Confirm the information from the contracting company with the borrower either immediately, within 24 hours, or as stated in the lender instructions. Google the address of the assignment and confirm directions.
Prepare a script to help you gather the same information every time in a professional manner.
An example of that may look something like this:
“Hello, my name is _____. I’m calling on behalf of [the mortgage company] to confirm your closing appointment scheduled for [date and time]. The address I have for this appointment is _____. Please let me know if this is the correct address and if you have any questions for me. If you need to reach me, my number is _______. Thank you!”
You may also want to add any instructions like reminding all signers to have a current ID available for the signing. Also, ask the client questions to help you access the property. Is the neighborhood gated? Where should you park? Will there be any animals on the premises?
If you have time to review the documents before closing, check for inconsistencies that the borrower can clarify so the contracting company can correct the issue beforehand.
Conduct the loan signing
As a representative of the contracting company, loan signing agents should provide a professional and courteous experience for the borrower. That starts with your attire, so dress professionally.
Greet the borrower and have your ID or business card ready to make the signers more comfortable. Direct the signers to a table for a better signing experience. Once seated, introduce yourself again and explain your role as a certified signing agent. Let the borrower know that you are a third party contracted to perform certain services and for any detailed questions about the information contained in the documents, contact the lender or title company. Confirm that the borrower has this contact information. If they don’t, this information can be found on the closing disclosure.
Verify the borrower’s identity and prepare your journal entry
Next, verify the borrower’s identification and record the details of the notarization in your journal. Remember to perform the correct verbal ceremonies for documents requiring notarization.
Notary Signing Agent Code of Conduct Guiding Principle 2.10 Completion of Notarial Acts
The Notary Signing Agent will complete the notarial acts on all closing documents and the journal entries for the notarizations in the presence of the signer at the appointment when the documents are signed.
How to present closing documents
Direct the borrower to the closing package and explain that he or she will be signing, initialing, and dating the documents according to the lender’s requirements.
When presenting the documents, give a brief description of each and point to where the borrower needs to take action.
Start with the Closing Disclosure:
- Say, “This is your closing disclosure. It itemizes all of the costs associated with your loan.”
- Point to the loan amount, interest rate, and the monthly principal and interest.
- Explain the escrow account contains estimated taxes and assessments, a new monthly total with the taxes.
- Show the borrower the itemized list of closing costs.
- Direct the borrower’s attention to the cash to close amount.
- Collect the funds.
- Instruct the borrower where to sign and date.
Continue this process when presenting each document. Describe the documents and direct the borrower where to sign, initial, and date.
Once the signing is complete, provide the borrower with a copy of the closing package and review the documents one last time to answer any questions.
Return documents to the contracting company
Once the borrower has signed the documents, the settlement agent must complete several post-closing tasks, so promptly returning the package is crucial. Bring a UPS or FedEx envelope with you to seal up right after finalizing the signing and return to the store. Some contracting companies may require a copy of the postage receipt in their special instructions.
💡Notary Tip: Avoid drop-off boxes and get a receipt. Research which stores in your area offer postal services and their operating hours.
Correcting signing mistakes
Mistakes happen! Lenders may add the wrong document or miss another and request the notary to go back out for an additional fee. If you make a mistake, be honest and take care of missed signatures or stamps as soon as possible.
By becoming a loan signing agent, you’re helping people to realize their dreams of homeownership. This is an exciting role, but it also comes with some hefty responsibilities. Take the time to prepare for your first loan signing to avoid any stress, surprises, or mistakes.
This content is provided for informational purposes only. PropLogix, LLC (PLX) is not a law firm; this content is not intended as legal advice and may not be relied upon as such. PLX makes no representations as to the accuracy, reliability, or completeness of this content. PLX may reference or incorporate information from third-party sources, upon which a citation or a website URL shall be provided for such source. PLX does not endorse any third party or its products or services. Any comments referencing or responding to this content may be removed in the sole discretion of PLX.
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