By Gerrie Pierre-Fleurimond—As notary signing agents, we generally meet very happy people at signing appointments but every once in a while we may come across a difficult signer. If you have already run into these types of signers, then you know it can be very awkward. If you are new to the business, you should prepare yourself for this day as it will certainly come and when you least expect it.
It is important to be prepared because there is no telling when this will happen. Planning ahead will ensure that you do not make a borrower’s issues your own nor get into a shouting match with them. We are expected to be professional at all times while acting as a loan signer, and this may seem difficult to do if a borrower is irate and screaming at you for something that the lender or loan officer may or may not have done.
I always begin my appointments by letting the borrowers know that I am not an employee of the lender, and I do not know the specifics of their loan. I am the notary signer and I am here to help guide them through the forms they must sign in order to complete the financing of their property. I can answer basic factual questions about the loan documents. I also remind them of the 3-day right to cancel options so that they are a bit more relaxed. Borrowers who feel they are being rushed into signing documents may get a bit agitated.
I always try to answer the obvious factual questions they have about the loan or point out the answers in the documents. For example, “What is the interest rate?” “When is the first payment?” “How can I tell if I have a prepayment clause in the mortgage?” However, I do not attempt to explain or interpret the loan program.
If I see the borrower is upset or uncertain about the terms of the loan, then I suggest they write down all their loan-related questions as we go through the documents. I let them know it would be best if they call the loan officer at the end of the appointment and review the questions they have about the loan. They can also do this during the next 3 business days. I leave the RTC forms on the very top for them to access later in case they are not happy with the responses from the lender.
If a borrower begins to scream and I cannot calm them down, I take a deep breath. I never yell or raise my voice as this would only make matters worst. I tactfully and with a “purpose” begin to pack up my things while saying to them, “I see that you are upset with the terms of the loan. I have tried to answer your questions to the best of my abilities. I can also see that you are not ready to sign the documents today. I would not want you to sign if you are not ready. Please contact your lender or loan officer to reschedule the appointment after they have answered your questions.” I will normally leave them the borrowers’ copies of the documents as they will need them when speaking with the lender.
After this I simply say “goodbye” and leave without any further delay. If they are still yelling and screaming, I let them know I have another commitment for which I will be late if we cannot sign the documents as scheduled, and it would be best if they had all their questions answered before they signed.
I immediately get in my car, drive at least a block or two away and then stop while I call the company that hired me to explain this development. (For safety’s sake, always lock the doors when you are sitting in your car.)
While this may not work for all situations, it has helped me over the years as a Notary Signing Agent, and I hope it helps you, too.