When it comes to being a Notary Signing Agent, I am not exactly a seasoned veteran, nor am I a newbie.  I fall somewhere in the middle–I’ve conducted hundreds of loan signings and consider myself a solid, competent notary, but I’ve never known a world without Snapdocs.

As I look back on the many signings I’ve completed, I often think back to my very first one.  Like many of my esteemed colleagues, I tested and received my notary signing agent certification on the NNA website.  I trained myself by studying the internet and Youtube and began by signing up on Snapdocs.  It didn’t take long until my phone started pinging with offers for signings.

I found out early on that actually landing a job off Snapdocs is where the real challenge lies, especially when you’ve never done a signing before.  But soon I got that first text response–“you’ve been assigned to this signing.”  I couldn’t believe it!  A signing agency was willing to not only pay me to do a refinance signing, they were willing to pay me $110! I was over the moon excited! But that feeling of elation was soon replaced with a cold sliver of fear that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. What had I done? Was I going to be able to pull this off? And what was a refinance signing really entail anyway…

Fortunately I received my documents in plenty of time to print and review them.  Starting out, I did not have a lot of money so I had purchased a single drawer Brother laser printer that was on clearance.  I’ll admit, that thing was a workhorse, but it required me to print letter pages separately from legal pages.  I had never heard of a page separator back then so I spent several minutes writing down the letter size page numbers and the legal size page numbers and printing them in groups that I collated afterwards. I’ll admit it was a tedious process, but at that time and with no signings, I had more time than money.

Once I had everything put together, I meticulously went through every page and looked for signature lines.  I flagged all the obvious places for the borrowers to sign and then I googled every unfamiliar form and term until I was confident I knew who was supposed to sign where. And then I went through it three more times. At last, my 150 pages of refinance documents were all flagged and tagged and ready to roll!

When I got to the house, I was so nervous! My shaking hands could barely ring the doorbell and my heart almost stopped when the door opened and a nice older lady welcomed me inside.  I was shown to a beautiful, big dining room table and I quickly settled in by readying my pens, documents, stamp and journal. My fear started to subside when the nice lady’s husband showed up and sat down.  Let’s just say that Mr. Signer was not nearly as warm and welcoming as Mrs. Signer.

I brought out the HUD1 Settlement Statement and presented it to the signers.  After a brief inspection of the documents, Mr. Signer threw down the pen and said, “I’d don’t like these terms.  I’m not signing this.” He crossed his arms and stared at me.

It was at this point that I realized the terror I felt before entering the house was nothing compared to the terror I felt now. With my heart beating out of my chest, I looked at Mr. Signer (aka Mr. Cranky Signer) and said, “I think we should call your loan officer then.” In hindsight, I’m not sure why I said this–it’s merely what popped out of my mouth. Meanwhile Mrs. Signer sat to the side wringing her hands.

He looked at me for a long, hard minute–surely realizing I was about to have a heart attack right at his dining room table–then he grumbled to himself, picked up his pen and started signing his name to the document. I was relieved, but only momentarily because that’s when the questions started.

I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t really prepared for questions.  I mean, I expected some questions, but not the deep probing questions that Mr. Signer was about to throw my way.  Why am I paying PMI and what is it? How come I have to initial all of the pages on the Deed of Trust? How exactly does the Right to Cancel Work? Or my personal favorite–how come my loan officer wouldn’t ever call me back and why did he have to talk so damn fast?

I’m not even sure what my answers were, but I’m certain they were close to the script I had found online and memorized that briefly explained loan terms.  As we worked our way through the documents, my new favorite (and only) signer was growing tired–or bored–of putting me through my paces and we finished the signing after a cool 1 hour and 45 very long minutes.  I was never so relieved to be done and couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I thanked my signers profusely–perhaps grateful that they only maimed me a little bit and had not actually eaten me alive–and raced back to my car.  I was a mixture of emotions.  That was hard!  That was fun!  Dear God I hope I did that right…

I went back to my house to go over the documents in extreme detail. Double check? Oh heck no–I’m pretty certain I octuple-checked every page and every signature on those documents and once I was certain they were good, I scanned back what needed to be scanned back, sealed them up in the shipping envelope and drove them to the UPS facility. My heart started doing its flip flop dance again as I patiently waited for my receipt of shipment.

Then I went outside and sat in my car and fretted.  My flip-floppy heart was once again,  beating out of my chest.  Did I stamp all of my notarizations? Did I signed where I was supposed to? Did I double check the IDs? Did I catch all the spots for initials? There was only one way to find out–wait and see if I heard anything.

By the grace of God, I never heard back from the signing company and three weeks later I received my check for $110. In retrospect, I find this miraculous on several levels. First, three weeks to receive payment? I’d find out soon enough that this was very rare indeed. And second, $110 dollars for a refinance signing for a newbie and I made it through with nothing getting kicked back? Truly a miracle and definitely by the grace of God…

Unfortunately my next two signings didn’t go as well. While the signers were a lot more pleasant, on one transaction I forgot the borrower’s signature on the top the 1003 Residential Loan Application and on the other, I forgot to stamp the Deed of Trust.  These were not showstoppers and the title companies were very gracious in helping me correct my errors, but as a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I’ll admit I took those first errors hard–too hard, in fact.

Even with the terror of my first signer and the errors on the next two loan documents, I knew I had found my calling. I think I knew that the minute I got back to my car after Mr. Cranky Signer. I loved this type of work and I knew I had found my calling.  And come to find out, I had pretty much gotten the terror and the errors out of the way early on as the next several hundred signings were completed incident free.  I still octuple-check my documents and every time I have an unhappy signer, I always think back to the original Mr. Cranky Signer…fondly.

by Paula Cottrell