By Victoria Anton—So you are ready to run out the door for a loan closing? Here’s a checklist of things to handle ahead of time to help make the closing/signing go smoother.

  • Introduce yourself and confirm the time and location. Give the borrower your name and contact phone number so that in the event an emergency comes up, they can reach you if the appointment needs to be rescheduled or the lender calls them and cancels the appointment. (I’ve heard about a cancellation at the last minute from the borrower.)
  • If documents are being shipped directly to the borrower, ask them to call you when they receive the loan documents. Ask the borrower to call you by noon if they don’t have the loan package. This way, if the documents don’t show up, you can get them chased down or find out exactly what is going on. Documents do not always go out, and nobody is talking.
  • Confirm address and ask for directions. The online maps for some locations will send you on a wild goose chase, occasionally telling you to turn on “local road” and go .2 miles. Where the heck is that road sign for local road?!
  • Remind the borrower that they need valid ID. This will vary from state to state as to what constitutes valid ID. Some states have no rule at all; some states are very specific. As a general rule the ID must be government (state or federal) issued. Photo ID is required in some states. Passport, State-issued Drivers License, INS Green Card/Resident Alien card, Military ID (though some states have changed the rules on the military IDs being acceptable). Remember, it is YOUR job as a notary to know and understand what is specifically required in YOUR state. Things like credit cards, social security cards, insurance cards, checking accounts, utility bills are not forms of ID and are not acceptable as a PRIMARY ID. Some companies (HFC, Beneficial) will use these things as a secondary ID.
  • If you are in a witness state, remind the borrower a witness has to be present. Again, this is an area that varies as to whether or not the recording state requires witnesses or not and which documents require witnesses. Example: You are in California conducting a closing for a borrower who lives in Florida. California is a Deed of Trust state Florida is a Mortgage state. In Florida, a mortgage does not require a witness but the Deeds do. So if there is not a Quit Claim Deed or a Warranty Deed being signed, there is not statutory requirement for a witness to be present. An exception to any of these rules is if the lender requires a witness. Lenders may make a more stringent requirement; they cannot have a more lax requirement. IF you are unsure (especially on out-of-state paper) ASK the company that hired you.
  • Avoid the hide-and-seek game: Things a borrower may want to have available in case you need information from certain documents. (a) Property Surveys, if there is a Survey Affidavit required in the package. (b) Homeowner’s Insurance Policy, in case the policy number and address of the Insurer is needed to be filled in certain forms. These are not always required, and state law sometimes governs these things. Not all states require a Survey Affidavit but some do, and some states require the Anti-coercion Disclosure.
  • Review the document package. Check to see if there is a HUD/Settlement Statement, and verify you have the correct package for the borrower. (I have personally walked out the door with the wrong loan package. Not a good feeling when you pull papers out with Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the documents are for Mr. Brown.) Give the documents a cursory glance in case there is one you do not recognize so you can find out what the document is before you go out the door. This gives you more confidence which in turns assists you in maintaining control of the appointment.
  • Infamous 10-Year history form. The form we all love and takes 15 minutes to fill out because nobody remembers (the rare person will) where they were many years ago. If you live in California, it is a common form in the loan package, other states may or may not have this form or you may see it occasionally. If you are familiar with your lenders, you know who has it and who doesn’t. Ask the borrower to have their work and residences for the past 10 years written down, and divorces, children, etc. This will assist in their filling out the form a little quicker.

I am quite sure much more could be added, but this should be a good starting point for many, especially for the newer people.

See you next time!