Updated: Feb 25, 2020
When you are ready to close on your loan (purchase, refinance, commercial, reverse mortgage, home equity, construction loan) a Notary Signing Agent (NSA) will be assigned to your loan signing to walk you through that huge stack of loan documents you will need to sign.
You are more than welcome to use your own trusted Notary Signing Agent, like Notary Girl On The Go, OR your Lender, Escrow Officer, Loan Officer, or Settlement Agent will have one assigned to you.
Do note that a Notary Signing Agent is a third party impartial witness to your loan signing and they do not work directly for the Lender, Escrow/Loan/Title Agent or Settlement Agent. It is important that they do not have an interest in or benefit from your loan whatsoever.
Lenders/Settlement Agents either use a preferred Notary Signing Agent that they trust and use often, or they use an agency to find a Notary Signing Agent, usually by zip code in order to find the closest one to you.
From there, here is what you can expect...
A Notary Signing Agent (NSA) will call you to confirm or set up date, time and location of the signing appointment that is convenient for you.
The NSA is given a copy of your loan documents and will also bring a complete copy to leave with you once the signing is complete. The NSA should review your documents beforehand to ensure there are no errors or missing documents and to confirm any stipulations that need to be collected.
While on the phone, the NSA should alert you to any stipulations they need to collect from you so you are prepared with these documents when they arrive. Stipulations are items that you will need to give the NSA to be returned with the signed loan documents (copy of ID, closing check, W-2, tax forms, insurance forms, etc.)
NSA will ask you to confirm the name(s) on your ID to ensure it matches the name(s) on the loan documents. If they do not match, the documents will need to be corrected by your lender/settlement agent before moving forward with a signing
The NSA should provide you with their complete contact information and should also obtain yours
In order to prepare for the Notary Signing Agent
Prior to the loan signing, you should receive a copy of the the "Settlement Statement" and/or "Closing Disclosure" documents from the lender (usually 3 days prior). Please take the time to review these documents prior to the signing to ensure the amounts, fees and terms are correct. If you find any discrepancies, need clarification, or have any questions regarding the amounts, fees and/or terms, please direct them to your lender beforehand. Is is unlawful for the NSA to explain, interpret or discuss any of your loan amounts, terms or fees. The NSA is specifically there to confirm your identity, give you a brief description of what you are signing, point to specific amounts, terms and fees to ensure you are agreeable, direct you where to sign, date and initial, if applicable, notarize and return your documents to the lender/settlement agent.
Ensure you obtain the stipulations the NSA requested and have them ready when they arrive.
Allot roughly 1 hour for the signing and provide a clean table/surface to do the signing on
Ensure all signers are present for the signing; the Notary Signing Agent will not be able to proceed if all parties are not present
Once the Notary Signing Agent (NSA) arrives...
They should present you with their ID upon arrival to ensure they are the person you are expecting
NSA will have your loan documents for signature, their journal, stamp/seal and thumbprint ink. (Best Practice: I will usually use blue ink, unless another color is required, and will provide borrowers with a pen identical to mine to keep things consistent.)
NSA will ask you for your IDs and record them in their journal
NSA will ask you for the stipulations they requested on the phone
Best Practice: NSA will usually seat you to the left of them to ensure a smooth flow during the signing
NSA will keep a running list of any questions you may have during the signing. If there is something that needs to be addressed before signing a document, the NSA will halt the signing and have you connect with your lender/settlement agent to ensure you are comfortable moving forward
NSA will review each document in the loan signing package, starting with the Settlement Statement and/or Closing Disclosure, to you by stating the title of the document, giving you a brief description, showing you where to sign, date, initial and then notarizing the document, if needed.
Names must be signed and initialed as they appear on the documents. If your name appears as Jane Sunny Doe, you must sign all three names and initial all three letters (JSD). (Best Practice: I put a card in front of the borrowers with the Name they must sign, the Initials they must sign and the Date so they can refer to it during the signing.)
If a document requires a notarization, the NSA will notarize as you move through the documents. If it is an acknowledgement, the notary will sign and stamp, if it is a jurat, the notary will ask you to raise your right hand and will administer an affirmation (Do you solemnly swear, under penalty of perjury, that the statements in this document are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief? You must answer in the in affirmative (YES, I DO) aloud). Those are the words I use, it should be similar to that statement
Once all documents are signed and complete...
The Notary Signing Agent will have you sign and offer your thumb print for each notarization performed and entered into their journal.
Best Practice: A good NSA will take 5 minutes at the end of your appointment to do a quick quality check to ensure no signatures, initials, dates or notarizations were missed and all forms are complete and correct. This quick check is important and can avoid a delay in your loan closing.
The NSA will leave you with a complete copy of the loan documents you just signed.
Notary Signing Agent should thank you for your time, ask if you have any questions, leave their business card and then be on their way
Sometimes, the borrowers are not ready to sign or refuse to sign the loan documents for one reason or another (maybe a discrepancy, second thoughts, or any reason really). It is the Notary Signing Agents duty to halt the signing and comply with the borrower's wishes. If the signing does not take place, the NSA is required to collect all copies of the loan documents and take them back with them.
Once the signing is complete, the Notary Signing Agent should ensure that they have removed/deleted any files associated with your loan to comply with Privacy Laws.