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

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