Question Advice for New Notary?

RosewayRenee

New Member
Hello - I just got my commission as a Notary Public in Oregon, and so far, the one thing I know right now is that, after the training I've received so far, it seems like there is so much more to learn: I feel like I need to just get my feet wet with less complicated tasks at first.

I'd love know what advice those of you who are VA - Notaries have to offer to a new notary.

Thanks!
 

LeeDrozak

Community Leader
I am not a notary but worked in the mortgage insurance industry for years. We were always looking for notaries for the smaller banks and brokers. We were also looking for notaries as closing agents.

I also have a friend here in PA who is a notary and decided to go mobile. He will go to nursing homes and homes of the elderly to notarize their documents. They were just basic things like POAs and directives.

I guess the first question is why did you decide to become a notary. Look there as a start and use that information to guide you to your market.
 

Paulette

New Member
Make sure you follow the notary requirements for your state, for example, in some states you're required to keep a record book and in others you don't. You also have to check how much you can legally charge in your state for notarizing.
 

RosewayRenee

New Member
Thanks! Oregon requires that we take a 3-hour course before even registering, so I at least have the basics. I've also read through the (very tedious) State Notary Manual. That's actually what prompted my question, because I can tell that there are situations I haven't even thought of that I should know about before being confronted with them. I'm wondering what kinds of things current notaries wish they had known earlier on.
 
I was a North Carolina notary from 2001 to 2013 and am now a Missouri notary. Yes, as Paulette says, know the laws of your state inside out. Some states have some very bizarre requirements. North Carolina now requires a six-hour course and I was required by law to have my manual on me at all times. Missouri does not recognize signing by proxy (subscribing witness). The Utah stamp has to be purple. Alabama and Puerto Rico do not recognize the stamp; it must be an embosser. California requires the signer's thumb print. South Carolina really requires no stamp at all, which can be a pain if you have to deal with bureaucratic stupidity. I learned a lot in 13 years.

As an Oregon notary, if you expect to sign a lot of California documents, invest in a thumbprint pad.

I highly recommend you keep a notarial journal, whether your state requires it or not. A will that my husband notarized some six years ago is now being contested, and we're waiting to see whether he will be subpoenaed. Without that journal you have no real way of proving that you did your part to make sure the signature was correct.

One thing you might consider is becoming a registered signing agent. If you want to be a loan closer, which can fetch as much as $150 a pop, you will certainly get a lot more business. Many closers will only hire registered signing agents.
 

ag21west

New Member
I've always considered becoming a notary, especially now that I'm going forward with my VA business, but I always wondered if it was worth the cost?
 
Depends on what services you'll be offering. Originally I became a notary because I was a temp and it looked good on my resume. We are now offering mobile notary services, which is right now our most profitable by far. If you work from home, make sure you're comfortable having a stranger come to your house, or else meet them at a Starbucks or something. Remember to record your mileage.

Unless you notarize 6 or 7 documents a day you have absolutely no chance of making a living off your commission.

If you do take the plunge, consider becoming a registered signing agent. We've been able to bring in as much as $175 per signing, but you have to feel comfortable going into a stranger's house. My husband is the signing agent, so that doesn't bother him.

Good luck whatever you do.
 

ag21west

New Member
I am definitely thinking that it may be beneficial to acquire notary license and offer it as a mobile service, in addition my VA business, also taking the plunge to become a registered signing agent.

As a signing agent, does the individual have to come to your home or could I meet them at a public place like I would require for mobile notary service? Although I plan to operate as a VA business I may get a co-working space, just to break up the monotony of working from a home office 24/7 and also for networking purposes, so I could have individuals come sign there as well.

Thanks for the information! :)
 
That might not be a bad idea to have a separate working space. I took a business development class in which they recommended getting a separate office over time as your home office gets busy or if you have a lot of distractions like kids, attention-starved pets, or a husband who watches his Criminal Minds dvd's every evening.

Regus Office Spaces is one you might want to look into. You rent the office space and everything you want that goes with it.

Sorry about the misinformation. My husband clarified that a notary or a registered signer can meet the client just about anywhere. This keeps you from having to go into a bad neighborhood at all hours. Long story short, a few months ago we drove 4 hours to Kansas City to meet a client at a Wafflee House. We also recently had a client who lived in Ferguson (we live just 10 miles south of there) whom we met at a sandwich shop closer to our home.

If you do become a registered signer, make sure you know where all the FedEx's and UPS's are that are open late. Short of a disaster, the client's package goes out that night. Period.

Before you do anything, contact the NNA (National Notary Association). Besides the annual membership, as a new notary they will set you up with everything you need, from the test guide, a journal, your stamp or seal, bonding if your state requires it, and most of the court fees which can add up over time. Trust me; the courts want your money and will nickle and dime you half to death. NNA is worth the up-front investment by far.

We also work with some notary agencies like N3. We do a lot of I9's and medical records releases for them, but they pay you a flat rate depending on the job. We earn minimum $20 per job.

The registered signing course is pretty difficult but worth it to have those letters behind your name.

But again, I can't stress enough that you know Oregon's laws inside out, forward and backward. eg North Carolina allows subscribing witness (signing by proxy) while Missouri doesn't.
 
Thanks. Glad I could be of some help.

In fact I have to contact NNA since they should have a scanned copy of my commission, which I'll need to register with N3 and Notary Cafe. Can't find mine. To their credit, Missouri is going as paperless as possible.

Sorry, I forgot to mention. Back in North Carolina my husband's commission was temporarily revoked since the stamp had the straight frame rather than the fluted one (some bored bureaucrat, likely) and was reinstated once he got a new stamp ($25 at Office Depot) which he had to make a copy of and fax to Raleigh. He also may soon be subpoenaed because a will that he notarized in North Carolina 5 years ago was being contested; the plaintiff arguing that the signature was fraudulent. That's why it's always a good idea to have that journal to cover your butt.

Whatever happens, good luck.
 

KatieNK

New Member
Liz, do you know anything about the states that require an attorney at signing as well? That is how my state is, so I am wondering if they even use many signing agents or if the various lawyer offices, where the closings are, have their own notaries on staff....
 
Sorry it took so long to get back. I know that South Carolina considers it UPL (unauthorized practice of law--take that very seriously btw) to do a registered signing without an attorney. There are no signing agents in SC.

If it's a South Carolina document, the signer would very often come over the line to North Carolina, but since it would be filed in South Carolina, their laws apply. Very often my husband would have a South Carolina attorney on conference call who would give a yay or nay. Much cheaper and more convenient than to do a signing in an attorney's office that way. In that case he would pass the attorney's fees on to the signer.

I recommend that you
1) check out your state's Secretary of State's website or take a look in your manual if your state has one.
2) Research it on NNA (National Notary Association). You may consider becoming an NNA member; it's full of helpful information.

Most law firms have at least one.

Consider getting on one of the directories like Notary Café or 123notary. N3 is another good one; they're almost like a temp agency for notaries, but they are harder to get into than Fort Knox.


One thing I can't stress enough if you're an American notary. UPL (unauthorized practice of law) is a very, very serious charge. Lawyers guard that privilege very jealously. If you're found guilty of UPL, if you're lucky you'll JUST lose your commission!
 
FINALLY figured out how to get on with N3. It's notarysignups@n3notary.net. I had typed it in with .com. They have sent me a contract to look over and sign. I will need 1) a scanned copy of my driver's license (or state ID) 2) a scanned copy of my commission. 3) a background check. I will call NNA and find out how to do that independently since I'm not buying a gun or applying for a security clearance.

They'll answer you with the information they need before sending you a link to the contract.
 
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