Error-Free Is Expected

The Document Diva deplores deficient diligence. How would you feel if your home refinance loan documents had to be re-signed because of a careless error by the notary public?

Document Details

An admin professional (like me) handles the details of documents. Most people find such things as interesting as watching paint dry. Hence, focus on the details suffers.

Since I have this ability for details, I work occasionally as a Notary Signing Agent. As such, I print out hundreds of pages of loan documents. Then, I deliver them personally to borrowers and oversee their correct signing and dating. I also collect funds if needed and verify identities. Finally, I ship the signed package via an overnight delivery service.

Notaries Public Should Know Better

I received this email notice from one of the vendors that hires me to handle loan signings:

Recently we’ve been informed by a client that California has been rejecting notary acknowledgments when the full title of “Notary Public” is not entered after the name of the notary. Please see below for an example. We would ask that you please include the title of “Notary Public” following your name on acknowledgments to minimize rejections and corrections required from the recorder’s office in various CA counties. Thanks for your work and attention to this!

sample CA acknowledgment, error

Competent legal document assistants, notaries public and admin experts shouldn’t need this type of reminder. We’re supposed to know document formats and standards.

Specific Language and Words Required

Notary public acknowledgment language for California is boilerplate that’s prescribed by law.  The State uses the word “shall” in the laws and handbook (Secretary of State). And, it requires the title “notary public” (exactly as shown in the picture.) So it’s no surprise that a Deed of Trust would be rejected by a County Recorder if it lacked these words. A California notary public who doesn’t know this is not competent and needs better training.

Error-Free Exactitude

Error-Free is ExpectedThis exactitude drives most people crazy. But words matter. Your documents matter. You should hire only professionals (even if they’re “just notaries”) who know what they’re doing. You should also not expect to pay cheap rates if you really want it done right.

As a legal document assistant, I also meticulously prepare grant deeds and similar documents for customers. Word for word, I guarantee my work and will re-file any documents free, if rejected by a County Recorder due to my error. So as a business person, I obviously want to do it right the first time.

Sign of the “Uber” Times

The “email reminder” I received is a sign of the times. It used to be worthwhile to do loan signing work full-time. I enjoyed the local travel and customer contact. Yet now I now accept only a handful of jobs a week. Income potential for a “notary signing agent” has plunged. Companies pay low fees compared to the time and responsibility involved. We have been “Uberised.”

Uber collects ride orders, then dispatches the drivers who must accept the fees offered for a ride. Our “Uber” equivalents are signing services with apps that enable them to act as brokers on most loan jobs. They are the layer between notaries public and escrow companies who used to hire us directly. The person on the street, handling the actual job hands-on, gets just a portion of the fee. It’s rarely negotiable. (For comments by real Uber drivers, see this article.)

Penny-wise

Ironically, as of Jan. 1, 2017, California law permits me to charge $15 per signature I notarize. The State approved this increase of 50%. It recognizes the level of responsibility I accept as an independent notary public. Meanwhile, the loan industry has rationalized its dismal drop in fees to “what the market will bear.” I routinely notarize 10 – 24 signatures in each loan package. Without divulging the fees, I’ll just say that the math doesn’t work out. I routinely reject most job offers due to low fees. Companies that compensate me fairly get my excellent service and attention to detail.

To conclude, I received a blanket “email reminder” directed to less skilled and likely lower paid notary signing agents who make errors in key documents like Deeds of Trust. Low fees have culled out the professionals who take time to do the work right, and who take pride in error-free work. Deficient documents are the result.

It’s a shame. You get what you pay for.

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