Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Straight Talk: Does Texas Need More Career Mobile Notaries?

Maybe you are thinking about joining the other 420,000 notaries in Texas.  Perhaps you heard that being a notary was a great way to earn extra money.

You could be right.  But,  I don't think so.  I would not invest right now if I didn't already have a notary commission.



Things have changed drastically in Texas.  

Because of a new law in Texas (HB 1217), investing in the notary business might never give you a dime of profit in Texas. 

Let's clarify something first.  

Texas notaries exist for the convenience of the State of Texas, meaning notaries are appointed for the convenience of Texans.
Sec. 26. NOTARIES PUBLIC. (a) The Secretary of State shall appoint a convenient number of Notaries Public for the state who shall perform such duties as now are or may be prescribed by law. The qualifications of Notaries Public shall be prescribed by law.
(b) The terms of office of Notaries Public shall be not less than two years nor more than four years as provided by law.
Notaries are public servants to serve at the leisure of the public.  If "the public" wants online notaries, that's where the business goes...because, you see, it's not really a business.  It's laws and rules.

Notaries became critically important because there was an explosion of need for our services in the early 2000s.

ALL NOTARIES should have a PLAN B!

Unfortunately, many career notaries in the U.S.  have lost sight of their positions as public servants.

I say "unfortunately" because we need to be thinking about "WHAT'S NEXT?? What if the notary world as we know it falls after July 2018?"  

Texas notaries, don't wait until you have no business.


Be involved.

Texas notaries who came to the game for loan signing work  didn't have the opportunity to be a public servant.  They didn't understand the "servant" part of the deal.  When servants aren't so necessary, they thin out and seek alternative work.

The reduction in work won't happen immediately, but it's certainly possible after July 2018.

And, ALL NOTARIES should have a PLAN B!

Many don't realize that that being a notary is a legal function, a commissioned position.  In fact, until the loan signing business came around, people were notaries because they wanted to serve their neighbors, or they worked for lawyers and needed to serve the lawyer's clients.

So, you see, many notaries who have only been commissioned the last ten years have no idea of the meager circumstances they have signed up for.

Maybe notaries became a bit complacent in the last 15 years because during the last quarter of the 1990s and through the 2000s when interest rates were falling...it was raining work for many of those years.
  • Mobile notaries were highly sought after.
  • They provided a highly valued and necessary convenience to citizens.  
  • Mobile signing agents helped citizens and lenders (and title companies) facilitate loan signings.
  • Notaries were paid a fair fee for doing so because their mobile services were desirable.
There were not nearly as many mobile notaries then as there are now!

And, there were tons and tons more loans.  In case you haven't heard,  Freddie Mac projects that there will be half as many refinance loans to be handled as the interest rate rises.

AND, now  yucky snake oil is selling everywhere.

SO, WHEN TEXAS NOTARIES GO ONLINE, will there be room for even MORE Texas notaries?

See what you think... 

As mentioned above, the  Texas Legislature recently passed HB 1217 that allows for enotarization via audio/video (A/V) conferencing. The passage of HB 1217 is said to serve all Texas citizens, especially those who were otherwise not able to have notarial services without due hardship.  And, let's face it, those who testified in favor of passing this law represented the lenders and title companies of Texas.

The focus of HB 1217 sped right past notaries.  

There are about 420,000 Texans who hold notary commissions, but even with that great of a number, I have not heard that a single notary in Texas was consulted about HB 1217.

There's the message notaries need to hear:

Like it or not...it's not about notaries.  
It's about Texas citizens.  

It is believed by  lawmakers and proponents of online notarization that citizens will be able to
  • sign powers of attorney and have them notarized more conveniently,
  • sign wills and have them notarized easier,
  • sign loan documents in the presence of a notary without delay or errors,
  • have convenient access to a notary for any document that must be notarized, and
  • quite importantly, citizens will begin to transition to paperless transactions. 
I didn't say all this would DEFINITELY happen like this OR that it was right.  But, that's why the law was passed.

It's done.

My Advice:  Don't Invest in a Notary Commission to Set Up a Business if you are not already a notary.

You'll probably never make money from having it.

While existing notaries already commissioned in Texas should not go into shock and be frightened out of their wits, be aware that if you are not a notary, this may be the worst time in the history of Texas to try to start a mobile notary business or to become a notary signing agent.

In July 2018, citizens in Texas (actually the entire world) will have access to Texas notaries online.

Online notaries will be able to notarize documents over the internet using A/V technology in the form of a webcam and microphone, plus additional security measures and identification services.

If you still aren't seeing the problem, consider this:

Currently, a mobile notary or signing agent appointment requires travel time between points of service.  Therefore, mobile notaries are needed in all areas of the state.  That's why notaries who were savvy business people and studied competition, laws, and made business plans have done well, even those who came in last year...and, even with there being enough of a supply of notaries to push down loan signing fees.

Online notarization will give citizens access to notaries day or night as long as the citizen has internet access.

Online Notarizations: $5 or $25 each?

Believe me, I understand that it sounds amazing that HB 1217 authorizes notaries or their employers to charge $25 to notarize documents online.  Please understand, however,  there will be a good bit of investment into technology by a lone notary such as myself. I don't know if I can afford it or not.

Alternatively, notaries will have to work under a company like Notarize.com,  for instance, who is certainly loved by it's notary contractors.  However, Notarize.com currently pays Virginia notaries $5 and keeps $20 because Notarize provides the technology to and marketing for the notary.  So, please don't think I'm trying to sew up all the business for me and my established notary friends!  Just know the facts before you invest in a commission.

Honestly, there are other technology providers, as well.

Notarize is, however, the only one that has developed relationships with notaries, made them feel involved, and they have also reached out to leaders in the notary community.

I'll attempt to talk to more technology providers to learn more after I return from the NNA Conference June 4 - 7, 2017.  Just between us, I like what I have heard about SIGNIX, too...and I know first hand that Pem Guerry from SIGNIX is a southern gentleman, and truly a super nice guy.

Don't Take My Word For It...Get Professional Business Advice.

Go to the Small Business Development Center in your region.  

Talk to someone about whether this is a good investment of your time and money. 

But, if you are going to do it in the face of everything that says not to...

If you DO get your commission and you want to connect with other Texas notaries, you'll find truth with us.

Connect with me and other notaries at the links below!

Brenda Stone

Free membership - list your notary business

Notary News Blog:

Facebook Group for Texas Notaries

Monday, May 22, 2017

Online Notarization Gallops In and Texas Has a New Frontier!

HB 1217 was passed into law today by a vote of the Texas Senate. This means that Texas notaries will be able to perform notarial acts online using audio/video conferencing technology, perhaps as early as July 1, 2018.  Of course, the final stop for this bill is Gov. Abbott's desk in Austin.  Once signed, the bill is law.

Is this good?  

My crystal ball has not been very forthcoming recently because of all the rain we've had here in the Brazos Valley.  So, I can't say exactly what will happen.

What I do know is that Kisha Smith in Virginia, a notary for whom I have high regard, has spoken quite favorably about her experience with remote notarization since the beginning.

Before us is a new Texas frontier!  

Many members of the Facebook group of Texas Notary Professionals  intend to look at this like an unlimited opportunity.   Some are a little bit worried about expressing that in the general discussion area, but I have had several conversations about it offline.

I intend to look at this positively.  I have written several articles on my blog Remote Notary Watch 2017 that said I felt like the passage in Texas of a law like HB 1217 was inevitable.  I am convinced it is better to be part of what is now our future TODAY, than to play at killing Goliath with ten toothpicks.

The lawmakers have spoken.

Others are not convinced this is right.  

I respect them and their convictions.

In either case, through the passage of HB 1217, today's Texas notaries public will be a part of history forever.

Whether the history to be written is one of embracing new technology and pioneering through unknown territory, or doing exactly the opposite quite vigorously, the passage of HB 1217 and what comes next is our story.  That's important to me.  Texas notaries are making history.  

HB 1217 - What does the new law say?

HB 1217 says that the Secretary of State will be in charge of developing the standards with the help of the Texas Department of Information Resources.

Our law is much liked Virginia's law. There are no boundaries on Texas notaries and what they can notarize, as long as they are sitting in Texas and notarizing via  the internet. Originally, HB 1217 would have restricted them to notarize only documents that pertained to Texas properties and citizens. We have no real boundaries now.

The one thing that sets the Texas law that will develop from HB 1217 apart from Virginia's law is that Texas law will require documents that are notarized online to have certificates that state that the notarial act was an online notarization.

Notably, one other interesting item to report is that when performing an online notarization under the new rules of HB 1217, the definition of credible witness changes. In a traditional notarial act, the notary must know a credible witness personally. Under HB 1217, a credible witness may be identified by documentation.

In closing - Don't look for the Grim Reaper of Notaries!

My wish for all who read this would be not to expect the worst.

Whatever your stance, I encourage you to remember that negativity achieves little.  A negative outlook will only benefit your competitors who are positive, energized, and looking forward to what comes next.

Also, please don't become overly concerned with scary statements you may have read  recently that said the passage of this bill is going to send us all straight to the hot place riding in a handbasket.

Texans, please join us. 

If you aren't already a part of the Texas Notary Group on Facebook, join us.  Group members have been informed regularly on issues like this since our inception.

Best, Brenda Stone

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Why Amber Mamacita Waybright has not been on Facebook lately...

Notice:  This article was not approved by Amber Waybright.

Some women talk big. Others just go do it big. 

I have seen nothing from Amber Waybright on Facebook for a long time.  Now I know why.  She's out making a difference with Lace, Grace, and Gears, a group that will help young women (girls,really) who were born into terrible lives this year:

"...800 women riders setting an American Record in Beaumont, Tx in 2016, and a big fat check presented to the Fisher House, a foundation that provides homes for military families during medical treatments. This year, we have selected Krause House as the beneficiary.

"Krause is a Resident Treatment Center (RTC) for adolescent girls (12-18) who have been through the Foster Care, JPD (Juvenile Probation Department), and CPS systems and have resulting traumas due to extreme neglect, physical or sexual abuse, or sex trafficking. During their stay, they receive on-site Therapy treatment."

These young girls have been through hell. Their facilities are in need, and THEY need to know that there are people out here who haven't forgotten them. As a mother, I can't FATHOM my daughter going thru some of the horrific things these girls have been exposed to. The Lace Grace & Gears Rally is how I will help."


Bootstrapping Woman

Amber Mamacita Waybright is what I think of as a bootstrapping woman.

She doesn't mince words in notary groups or give out cotton candy pillows to make the truth easier to settle into.  Or, at least she didn't.  We've lost her. Our loss is LGG's gain.

She handed out instructions on how to bootstrap yourself into being strong.

In our notary society, that made her unpopular.

Some notaries enjoying making bootstrapping business women like Amber Waybright seem like they are bad guys--the big meany, the enemy.

It is an opportunity to create an imaginary dragon.  They "slay" the dragon, and become a hero.  It helps them to look good.

I will cut off additional comments and observations right there.

This Latina  is the real deal.  Mark my words! 

She has the type of grit and character to change lives and inspire.

If you want to do something that matters for her cause, go to Lace, Grace, and Gears.  Click on "Contact" and ask how to help.

Do something today for a girl who needs a bootstrap.

If you don't know one, check out Lace, Grace, and Gears or visit their page on Facebook.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Remote Notarization Dos and Don'ts (Lawmaker Chats)

Someone  in a FACEBOOK notary group wanted to know how to fight remote notarization. 

She got no responses.

ANSWER:  It is really too late to "fight it."

I put a lot of thought into answering that question this weekend.  I hope I have finished the purge on my soul through doing that.

I pulled out my research materials to give her some answers and from them I made a timeline map and added a list of who is supporting what we dislike and so forth.  Click here. It will be MY REMOTE NOTARIZATION MUSEUM.

Do and Don’t…
It’s my opinion that there isn’t anything that can be done to stop remote notarization.  Look at this list of remote notarization's proponents on the ESRA website.  Add to that FreddieMac and FannieMae and all the property recording clerks who have been required to upgrade their systems to eRecording. 
My opinions based on living and breathing this argument since 2011 follow:
Say that notarization has worked for 2,000 years and shouldn’t be tampered with.  Outhouses worked well, too, for centuries, and don’t you love a good indoor toilet?
Try to use the old granny and the gun scenario. That won’t work. Right or wrong, it’s not an argument in the heads of lawmakers. They will think you are an unsophisticated person without understanding of technology.  Blogged about that here and why it’s pointless.
Argue that they are taking money out of notaries’ hands.  That sounds like notary greed and lacking in objectivity.
Forget that before notary signing agent careers, notaries were appointed to serve the public, not to become an industry that fed other types of businesses. When you get down to the basics of what a notary is, a notary is a public servant appointed to serve the public and is appointed for the public’s convenience.
Remind lawmakers by accident of any complaints they’ve heard about notary sanctions, notary errors, or notary fraud. One reason we are in this fix is because notaries aren’t educating themselves as soon as they receive their commissions.  It’s doubtful in Texas that they are taking an oath office prior to notarizing. 

Make this about citizens when you talk to lawmakers--for instance, Bud Davis, a refinery worker in Pasadena, Texas was burned by online notarization.  Please read his story HERE.
Make it about economic issues in the state as a whole.  Every state that has a significant number of notaries or loans has been visited by at least one company that intends to pay notaries in that state $5 per online notarization while it sucks up the other $20…to go to the state where that company is located.
Keep it on the downlow about our signing agent careers unless asked.   Loans are signed in banks and title companies in the minds of lawmakers and notaries don’t use their stamps to make more than a stipend to cover notary expenses.  Leave it right there.
Explain the way this will ultimately effect the state’s economy.   “Our NOTARIES are performing work in our state that will now create wealth for another state’s commercial endeavors but not equably in our state’s economic future.  The split is $5 and $20. How can that work?” 
Ask pointedly:  “Senator, if you hadn’t looked at this aspect, should you go forward and funnel that out of your own state??  
Beg for a look at the liability issues and equitable solutions for citizens and notaries.  Tech providers have deep pockets.  If a citizen is harmed must he only look to the notary public’s bond or E&O?  Sure, the tech guys will carry insurance, but why not legislate some safety nets? Should liability be so clear that there is none for tech providers who are making the lion’s share?
 Remind them of Montana – the smartest state with online notaries.  Shout out to Lori Hamm! Try to encourage a pilot program for notaries by having a graduate law that starts like Montana and graduates perhaps in two years on a schedule.  I blogged about their laws.  

 Let them know about Iowa.  It’s still okay to say NO!  Read more below.

Shout Out to Iowa – Sexiest Notary State in the Nation
(Home of NotaryRotary)

Hooray to the men and women of Iowa in the legislature - - they shut down remote notarization, for now, it seems. I am not saying I favor NO remote notarization, just a cautionary approach. They aren’t putting up with all this nonsense of online notarization.  
Everything is clearer to me now.  Harry at Notary Rotary is hunky because men are men in Iowa!  His wife is beautiful and youthful because in Iowa, my friends, women act like grown women. They do not play.
Iowa looked it over and said “no.” They just wrote a law and that was that.  All lawmakers then went off into the forest to find an eagle’s nest an enjoy with beer and sausage while the rest of us fools fret and cry over remote notarization.  Below is the key law; I blogged a bit about it here.

The Texas notary group is doing well and growing.  I've got two projects to discuss with the directory members.   Hopefully, now that I have exorcised myself of the remote notary stuff, I can move on them.

Don't miss Urban Notarization Online Cowboy Blues.

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