The Role Of Notary Signing Agents At Real Estate Closings
Your closing day is scheduled. Congratulations! The end is in sight and you’ll be in your home soon.
Do you know what to expect on closing day? There might be a large group of people sitting around a table, passing actual paper, or there might be a group of people assembled virtually, running their fingers over the screens of their laptops or tablets. Either way, there’s one person without whom the sale cannot proceed: the notary signing agent.
What Is A Notary Signing Agent?
Notary signing agents (NSAs) begin their careers as notaries public, and then complete additional certification requirements and submit to a background check to become a licensed notary signing agent. They also complete educational requirements that focus on the proper handling of loan documents. Exact requirements vary from state to state, but most require applicants to pass a test and have a clean criminal record.
What Is A Notary Public?
A notary public performs a quasi-judicial, or ministerial, function that allows a duly qualified person to inspect documents to verify the identity of a document signer by closely inspecting the documentation the signer presents. They also verify that signers are acting of their own free will and understand the nature of the documents they are signing. When circumstances require, a notary public can administer oaths to ensure that any statements made are subject to penalties of perjury.
The notary’s signature affirms that no fraud or duress occurred during the transaction. Legal documents – like those transferring title from seller to buyer – won’t be accepted, without a notary signing agent’s signature and stamp, by local officials responsible for recording title changes. A missing signature can be fixed later, but a missing notary signing agent’s seal means the closing will have to be reconvened.
Why Are Notary Signing Agents Required?
Local government must accurately record title changes so as to prevent clouds on title, or title defects, in the future. That’s why the work of notary signing agents is integral to the closing process. It is the NSA’s job to ask questions to ensure that the proceedings are free from fraud and duress and to administer oaths that advise the parties that their statements are made under penalty of perjury.
How Are Closing Agents Essential To eClosings?
If you purchased a house even 10 years ago, you likely weren’t offered the option of closing on your house electronically. Property clerks felt more comfortable insisting on in-person transactions. That’s because it’s harder to scrutinize fraudulent documents or discern whether a party is under duress on a computer screen than it is in person.
Technological change has come slowly to the legal and real estate industries, but with the recent pandemic, the rate of change has accelerated. Executive orders are allowing eClosings while legislation to allow electronic verification of signatures is being enacted. In fact, Rocket Mortgage® offers some form of electronic closings in all 50 states using one of the following methods:
In a hybrid situation – the method most frequently used in the United States – the borrower(s) and the notary meet in person to verify identity. The most important documents (usually the promissory note, transfer deed and deed of trust or mortgage) are signed with a pen, and the rest is signed digitally.
In-Person E-Notarization (IPEN)
In this scenario, the borrower(s) and the notary meet in person so that the notary can verify identity, but all documents are signed digitally.
Remote Online Notarization (RON)
If you live in, or are moving to, one of the 48 states that allow RON either permanently or temporarily as of October 2020, a remote notary signing agent is authorized to verify your identity online and watch you sign virtually.
RON is more convenient because you can create e-documents that can’t be submitted without all necessary signatures. RON also prevents missing signature oversights that can cause problems and additional expense later.
How Are Loan Servicing Agents Chosen?
NSAs must be impartial and cannot have any personal interest in the transaction or the parties to the transaction. To ensure this impartiality, notaries are chosen randomly for each closing from a qualified pool.
At Rocket Mortgage, we can supply a carefully chosen notary signing agent, or you can select one of your own.
How Much Do Notary Services Cost?
Once the selection has been made, the notary will reach out to you to make an introduction before coming to your closing location. An NSA who comes to you is sometimes called a traveling or mobile notary, and they tend to charge more for their services.
Notary fees are a matter of state law, so it depends on where you live, but you can expect to pay between $75 and $200 for a full-service, mobile notary signing agent.
The Bottom Line: NSAs Are The Unsung Heroes Of Closing Day
Notary signing agents help prevent fraud and duress in loan transactions. Without NSAs, property couldn’t be bought, sold or refinanced. Are you ready to buy or refi a home? Get started online or call (833) 230-4553.