By Melissa Haley—Have you ever had a borrower answer the phone to talk about their latest vacation, get the kids ready for bed, search for their ID for longer than a few minutes/reasonable amount of time or grab the documents and start flipping through them on their own? As a Notary Signing Agent, it is your duty to remain in control of the signing.
When making the initial call to make or confirm an appointment for the document signing, advise the borrower(s) about what ID or other documents/conditions they will be required to have ready for the appointment.
Upon arrival, greet the borrower with a handshake and a smile, and then get down to business. Always start by requesting their identification. While recording the information into your journal, provide the borrower with any lengthy lender/title forms that need to be completed by the borrower (typically a statement of information-type document).
It is imperative to keep all copies of the documents in your possession during the signing. Let the borrower know that they will be receiving a copy of everything that they are signing at the end of the appointment. Their copy should be kept either under the stack of copies to be signed or in your briefcase for the duration of the signing.
The document signing order should be consistent for each appointment. The typical order is a variation of: HUD/Settlement Statement, Note, Truth-In-Lending, Deed, and then the rest of the package. The reason for this order is that most issues that lead to a no-sign situation are found within these documents, from payouts to rate, prepayment penalty, or loan terms.
Having a “system” or consistent process for each appointment is critical to maintaining control over the signing at the table. Present each document, one at a time, to the borrower. You can allow for a slightly relaxed atmosphere, but be prepared to present the next document if the pace slows too much. Distractions and interruptions are inherent to signing in the borrower’s home, but should be kept to a minimum. If the borrower(s) persist in talking with their friend on the phone, for example, presenting the next document will usually provide a visual clue that there is business at hand that needs their attention.
Every now and again, there will be the borrower that does not react to the subtle hints. Be patient, but know your limit. Allow a reasonable amount of time for the distraction to be dismissed. After several non-verbal attempts to regain their attention, speak up. Something as simple as asking if they would like to reschedule may get them back to task. If not, pack up and prepare to leave. Make sure you call your hiring entity to document the actions taken by both parties once you reach your car. Although rare, there have been cases where a borrower goes into the shower or other strange action occurs. At that point, the best action is to simply leave.