By Kathy Poston—William and Sandra Borrower needed to refinance their home to make life more comfortable for Mrs. Borrower after she fell and broke her hip. Subsequent surgery and other related medical costs left them in unexpected debt. They had owned their home for over 25 years and hated to borrow against it but they felt they had no other choice. By refinancing their home at a lower rate and consolidating their medical bills, they were hopeful some of the pressure they had been feeling would be lifted.

After going through the long process of applying for their loan and finally being approved, their loan officer informed them that a notary would come directly to their home to close the loan. They were a bit skeptical because when they initially bought their home, the closing took place in an attorney’s office. The loan officer assured Mr. and Mrs. Borrower that the notary would be very helpful and would see to it that they understood everything they were signing. He also told them that if any questions arose, they could always call him for further explanations.

The closing was set for 3:00 pm on a Monday afternoon. Their notary, Shelly Closer, was running a bit late that day. Shelly was really stressed out trying to work two jobs and close loans in her spare time. She had just left job #1 at a fast food establishment to try and rush in a loan closing before going to job #2. She didn’t have time to change clothes but felt that her uniform would be good enough. The fact that she was more than 15 minutes late didn’t bother her that much because good grief, these people wanted their loan, right?

When Mr. Borrower opened the door to greet the notary, he was taken aback by her appearance. This woman looked as if she had just stepped out of a sauna! Her hair was askew, her make-up was running, she was out of breath, and it appeared as if she were wearing a fast food uniform. She was holding a stack of papers that were every which way.

Shelly seemed to be in a hurry and asked Mr. and Mrs. Borrower where they could sit. At the table, she handed them the papers she had been holding and told them to start signing their names. Mr. Borrower started to ask a question but Shelly informed him that she didn’t have any answers – she was just the notary. She did take a quick glance at their ID to make sure they looked like the picture.

Mr. Borrower was very concerned and asked if they could call their loan officer. Shelly didn’t care as long as he was quick about it. The loan officer was unavailable and didn’t answer his cell phone. Shelly told Mr. Borrower that if they wanted their loan, they needed to sign the documents. If they rescheduled the closing, it might take days or weeks for someone else to come out!

Mr. and Mrs. Borrower signed the documents because they were desperate for the loan. Shelly got them to sign the documents because she was desperate for the money.

What’s that old saying – “Desperate people do desperate things?” In this case, and in many others like it, no one has been serviced. The borrowers are left wondering if they did the right thing, hoping that the loan will go through, and worrying over the entire closing process. The notary is left no wiser and in more danger of hurting both herself and the people she services by less than professional standards and conduct.

Loan Signing Agents owe it to the borrowers and to themselves to do the following:

  • If you’re late for an appointment, call the borrowers to let them know. Politely let them know when you’ll be there and apologize for being late.
  • Dress appropriately. You don’t have to look like you’re on Wall Street but it wouldn’t hurt to come close. It doesn’t cost that much to appear professional, whether it’s slacks and a nice top or a shirt – and decent shoes. We’ve all heard of Wal-Mart and Payless Shoes!
  • Invest in materials – a briefcase or professional looking holder for the loan documents and your notary supplies. Again, this doesn’t have to break the bank! Professional-looking business cards and your own pens add a nice touch.
  • Take a deep breath before knocking on that door – Relax your body and your mind. No matter how hurried your day has been, no matter how tired you are, no matter what other outside pressures are laying heavy – when you get to the closing – everything else should come to a screeching halt! For that brief period, the borrowers deserve to have you 100%! If you can’t fully commit, ask yourself some hard questions and re-evaluate your life situation. This is a business that requires 100% effort, 100% commitment – anything else falls short in more ways than one!
  • Shake hands when you greet the borrowers, make eye contact, and put them at ease by offering a nice comment such as, “My, you have a lovely home!” Anything will do as long as it is sincere and thoughtful.
  • Place the documents and notary supplies on the table after the borrowers have shown you where to sit. Take your time and let them know that you want their loan closing to be as organized as possible.
  • Explain your role in the closing by letting them know exactly what you do – and don’t do. Be as courteous as possible and answer all questions they might have about the closing process – and do it with attentive care!
  • Pass the documents to the borrowers one-by-one. Allow them to review whatever they want to without entirely reading the document. Prevent “reading” by explaining the type of document beforehand and highlighting the key terms of that document.
  • Lead the borrowers in a way that makes them feel comfortable. Let them know you have their best interests at heart and that you’re there to assist them in any way possible. Let them know that you are a professional representative of their lender by acting and looking like one!

By presenting a caring and thoughtful attitude, no matter what kind of day you’ve had, everyone succeeds. You succeed because you’ve completed a job to best of your ability. The borrowers succeed because when you leave they’re left thinking that the signing process was a lot easier and more pleasant than they thought it would be – because of you!