Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Who "Invented" the Notary Signing Agent Career?

Have you ever wondered about the answers to these questions?

  • When did the career path for notary signing agents began?  
  • Who was the very first signing agent, the mother of us all?
  • How did the signing agent career get its start? 

Her name was “Susan” and I won't add her last name because I respect her privacy. (Susan, if you are out there and want to comment or add your name, please do so below or contact me by email!)

Susan coined the term “Notary Signing Agent.

Susan was an entrepreneur extraordinaire! Her efforts paved the way for notaries to become an integral part of the mortgage lending arena.

The images that I've shared in this article are from the archived websites where it all began.

Are you aware that notary signing agents are relatively new to the mortgage signing process?

Until interest rates began to fall at the end of the 1990’s, there was no need for a mobile notary to go to a home to notarize a loan.

When rates fell consumers stampeded local banks to have their loans refinanced at better rates. In house closers were overwhelmed and mobile notaries were engaged to assist.

That’s not all of it!  

As the World Wide Web matured and became a mainstream form of entertainment, information, and communication, it became a marketing powerhouse for mortgage lenders and title companies.

Searching online was becoming faster because of digital phone lines replacing the old school version. Modems went from dog slow to 14,400 bps, and then even doubled to 28,800 bps.

It didn’t take five minutes to get search results returned. That’s when the internet became a way to shop and compare prices.

These changes created a new kind of frontier for commerce stakeholders to explore.

Lenders and borrowers found each other across the span of the U.S. through websites. We saw many websites crop up with pages that said “Need a loan? Type in your information and we’ll call you when we approve it!”

Brick and mortar buildings no longer contained borrowers. 

In many areas of the country, title companies and lenders simply could not accommodate the demand for refinance closings locally.

On the local scene, title company employees began leafing through paper phonebooks and indiscriminately contacted any notary that could be located. Notaries quickly became interested in picking up documents, going to appointments and getting them signed, and back to title companies.

In the meantime, many lenders and title companies established national centers to process loans and accommodate remote borrowers who found their interest rates to be better than local interest rates.

They also needed notaries to attend the signings and notarize documents.

It was a profitable time for title companies and lenders, but they were often restricted by the small pool of notaries that could preside over signing appointments.

It must have been in the late 1990s or early 2000's when the concept and title of "notary signing agent" was born.  (I didn't get started until around 2004, so I can't say for sure.  If you know, send me an email and tell me the exact year or put it in the comments below.)

Former NASA Branding
Susan was a notary in Colorado who realized that by organizing a group of notaries, many could profit from networking and becoming educated on how to handle loan documents.

She saw that the insane rushing flood of consumers seeking to refinance loans at low rates would be a gold mine for notaries public.

Susan sat down and made a plan.

She formed a group and set up a website that remains online today! (For fun, go ahead and click the link. You might be surprised!)

She called the group The National Association of Signing Agents (NASA). I've included an image of what I think is the old website's logo.

Susan came up with the title of “notary signing agent” and before long, the group membership exploded.

Eventually, Susan needed to step away from the work. At that time, the National Notary Association bought the rights to Susan’s business and that’s when the NNA’s certification classes and marketing of the notary signing agent career path exploded.

Ancient Price List

Price List from the Past

In the price list, you'll see that Susan negotiated rates company by company then added another amount on top of that. I've heard base rates ran $50, $75, $100, and $150. I don't know!

As you can see, however, in the past, notaries named their fee, and they got it. Sometimes, hiring companies would offer ridiculously high prices ($500+) to tempt a notary at the end of the month to go out at 11:00 p.m.

Susan, much happiness to you from Texas on National Notary Public Day (coming up on November 7, 2017).

Your work had a lasting impact on the past, present, and future of notaries.

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