Most of the questions that notaries ask online can be answered by reference to any number of business books.
From getting started with a small business, finding and screening clients, marketing to those screened clients and/or the general public, determining what to charge and many other matters, all these topics have been researched by experts or analyzed by successful men and women. These books contain many different voices and varied focuses, so there should be something for everyone in your local library and/or online.
While you can learn a good deal from online content and in-person classes, there’s always a level of learning that only comes from reading a good book. And having a strong business book collection that you can refer to whenever you need it can keep you out of trouble, especially when your mentor or trainer is not available.
So, which books should be in your collection? Here are some that are on my library shelves. Please feel free to suggest your favorites in the comments.
I encourage people to look at YouTube videos before spending money for training. Not everyone learns the same way.
One person might understand Carol Ray at Notary2Pro better. Another might get more from Bill Soroka at Notary Coach (Sign and Thrive – SnT) or the professionals at the National Notary Association (NNA) or someone else. Some get the most from Mark Wills at the Loan Signing System (LSS). You won’t know which fits your learning style until you spend some time watching their teaching style.
I do recommend Notary2Pro and the NNA. This is based both on having taken their classes and on their acceptance and long standing history in the NSA community.
I do not currently recommend LSS or SnT, as I have not taken their classes.
It’s worth noting that LSS and SnT promote the myth that anyone can make six figures as an NSA and can do so “fast and easy.” They’re part of the wave of new trainers that have flooded the NSA business with so many new people who are driving down fees and causing other issues.
That said, I have to mention LSS and SnT because almost every time the topic of training is raised in notary groups on Facebook, various notaries sing their praises.
Also, I note that Bill Soroka has his Sign and Thrive ebook available for free in the Kindle Unlimited program, and Carol Ray wrote a forward for it. It’s over 200 pages, so that should give you a lot to think about.
Meanwhile, Mark Wills of LSS has a 56 page ebook on Amazon for $3. And LSS is the most expensive option of the trainers I’ve mentioned so far.
There are some notaries of long standing who are doing good work as educators. In this group, I would include Brenda Stone and Laura Biewer.
You can use the search function on Facebook and Google to research any person or firm that offers training for notaries. If their website lacks names and a relevant biographical background for the trainers, you would do well to keep your money and keep looking.
There’s even one person who is offering an online class for $5,000.00 !!!
If you have 5 large to drop on getting trained, send me an email and I will hook you up with all the best training and only charge you 1/2 of that. (LOL)
Seriously, I’m not offering a course. I’m saying you could take the NNA, N2P, Sign and Thrive, and LSS classes — all of them — and have over 1/2 that 5K left. So, some guy promoting a notary class for $5,000 — that’s just highway robbery. There’s no way anyone is offering notary training that’s worth 5K.
I won’t mention any of the other trainers, as they’re either worthless or you will hear about them from their marketing — or both.
For notary basics, I recommend the Notary Essentials class from the NNA. It’s state-specific.
For GNW marketing, I suggest Laura Vestanen’s ebook Notary Marketing 2019 which is available for less than $10 for the Kindle app.
For NSA training, the industry credential is taking the NSA class from the NNA and passing their exam and background check. So, you need that. And you will learn from it. Some folks don’t think much of the NNA classes because they used to be very weak. They’ve gotten better because of competition from N2P and others.
Once you’ve done those NNA classes, I recommend Notary2Pro. That includes mentoring and a vetted list of potential clients, some of whom will use new N2P grads.
Finally, you can learn a lot from the articles here on my website, starting with this page: Notary Tips .
Wherever you get your training, please understand that this business is not for everyone. It takes a certain mindset to make your living doing paperwork where you’re not an employee, but are an independent contractor expert boss of your own time.
Your local library should have books on the entrepreneur mindset and how to figure out if being self-employed fits in with who you are. See my Business Basics article for more help on that.
Good luck. Stay safe. Wash your hands. Carry a whistle and mace. Wear a mask.
This is a companion piece to my article on Education for NSAs and a follow up to my previous series on NSA training. Please see those articles for more information.
If you’re looking at a Settlement Statement or Closing Disclosure and you see a line item for notary services, you may wonder why the lender charges so much — especially if you know that notary signing agents or mobile notaries don’t make anywhere close to the fees shown.
Lenders don’t charge for notary or NSA services. Title companies do. That’s what you see on the settlement statement or closing disclosure — what the lender is being charged by title.
A portion of that is kept by title for related work they’re doing; some is what the signing service charges them (there’s a list of services and benefits that SSes provide to title companies).
We get as little as the SS can convince us to accept.
This is how business is done. Everyone lives in the margin between expenses and income.
You will drive yourself nuts if you focus on what someone else gets. All you can control is what you accept.
You *may* be able to influence a small number of people, but you’re never going to stop people from taking what you see as lowball fees, at least not enough of them to increase what’s being offered.
Most of the fee discussion online is based on a lack of understanding of #businessbasics such as marketing and contracts, not to mention things like price fixing (attempted or actual).
Fintech (financial technology) is very likely going to wipe out independent contractor NSAs over the next 5 to 10 years anyway. Watch platforms and RON and blockchain tech and their impacts.
In the meanwhile, I strongly suggest you focus on what you can control, which does NOT include the fees that your competitors accept or what other parties in the pipeline are making.
I think there’s some confusion over what “the law” requires versus what lenders want.
First, each state has state law that spells out who has an ownership interest in the real estate when a couple are married and one or both of them live in the home. This state law can range from community property (everything you own is also owned by your spouse) to homestead (if it’s your property and you live there, your spouse also owns it but you can own rental or investment property separately) to none (each spouse owns their own property). So, first you need to know your state’s law on property ownership.
Second, if both spouses are on title, both are owners, no matter what the state law says about real estate.
Third, once you know who the owners are, then the federal law kicks in. Under RESPA and TILA, and the combined TRID, owners must agree to mortgages on their residential property. They do that by signing the mortgage or deed of trust, the Closing Disclosure or Settlement Statement, and the Notice of Right to Cancel.
Fourth, even if the non-borrowing spouse is not an owner under state law or by virtue of being on title to the property, the lender may still make it a requirement that they sign those documents and others (such as any forms for the IRS or the VA or HUD) or they won’t let the loan close.
In any case, if the Non-Borrowing Spouse is not signing freely and willingly, you can’t notarize the documents — and trying to convince them to do so could be seen as violating your oath of office as a notary public. That’s because you’re supposed to be a disinterested witness, not an advocate for one side or the other in the transaction.
The first question for a notary is can you verify their identity. The second is do they choose to sign the documents freely and willingly. If the answer to either of those is no, the notary cannot proceed. So, you need to be very careful on how you speak with all of the signers in order to stay within the proper role of a notary public.
As with every article on this site, this is not intended to be legal advice or legal opinion. It is the author’s opinion as to the expectations for notaries based on many years of reading sources both widely and deeply. In other words, the author believes these are notary best practices or industry standards. If anything here conflicts with your state law or state’s official position, please go with your state’s rules.
60+, male, widowed/single. Writer with a day job. Notary Public. #catdaddy Science fiction and fantasy fan, avid reader, Founder of the Darrell Awards. Author of _Getting Started As A Notary Signing Agent_ (available from https://notarymemphis.wordpress.com/books). Please be kind to one another.