When You Need a Notary in Memphis

When You Need a Notary in Memphis, Contact Notary Memphis

Notary Memphis is a mobile notary service provided by Tim Gatewood. I have been a notary public here in Shelby County, Tennessee, for over 20 years and I currently offer services in Shelby, Fayette, and Tipton Counties.

If you or your family member are in a nursing home or a hospital and you need a power of attorney or advance care directive or Will notarized, I can come to you at a very reasonable cost and get that taken care of for you. Please see my article about Hospital Notary Work for details of that.

If you are an employee or manager or owner of a business and you need something notarized at work, I can come to you for the same reasonable trip fee and help you get it done.

If you are at a school or church function and you need a release or permission slip or some other document notarized, I can come to you for the same trip fee and assist you.

If you are a shut-in or just need or prefer to sign your documents at your home, I can come to you there. 

If you would rather come to me and save the trip fee, I can often be found in the 38115, 38119, or 38125 zip codes (unless I am out providing mobile notary services somewhere else).

Please see my article How My Notary Service Works for details of my mobile notary and general notary services.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Notary Memphis business card

Notary Memphis business card

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How Much Should a Notary Charge? 

How Much Should a Notary Charge?

One of the questions that gets asked most often in the groups on Facebook where notaries gather is “how much should a notary charge to do this ?”

The answer to that is simple, but many notaries refuse to believe it. Here it is:

No other notary can tell you what to charge. 

If they are not in your area, any figure or range of figures that they may give you would be irrelevant because their market conditions are not your market conditions.

If they are in your area, they’re your competitors and it would be price fixing for them to tell you what to charge. Price fixing is a Big Deal because it is against federal law. (For an introduction to price fixing, see this article by the Federal Trade Commission: Price Fixing.)

What to charge is something you have to figure out on your own based on your expected expenses to complete the scope of work as described in the offered assignment and your own market research.

Let’s say that someone does respond to your question about this that you posted online. If they are in another state, their answer may be somewhere between irrelevant and totally useless to you.

For instance,  California permits her notaries to charge up to $15 per notarization. Other states allow much less. Some (such as my own Tennessee) say that we can charge any reasonable fee. What does your state let you charge? Are you allowed by your state to charge a trip fee for traveling to the signers? Are there other specifics about the fees that your state laws and rules cover? It is YOUR responsibility to know the laws and rules in your state, and no one in another state should be expected to research that for you or to know it on their own. (They might, but expecting them to do so is unreasonable.)

Are you in an attorney-only state? If so, you are limited in what NSA work you can do.

Are you in a state that requires a title producer’s license before you can assist with closing loans? If so, you have to invest in getting that before you even start marketing, even the passive marketing of being listed on directories.

How crowded is the market in your service area? Are you trained and certified and background checked by the firm that this client prefers or requires? Do you have as much Errors and Omissions insurance as they require? Do you have availability at times they usually offer assignments? And those are not all the issues that you need to address in your market research and your personal preparation and business planning.

Each of these can affect how much you can reasonably expect to charge without losing the assignment.

Then you get into your expenses. If you live in a rural area, your driving expenses and time will be more than someone in an urban area. On the other hand, your dollars may go further for basic expenses, so you might be able to make a profit from a fee that someone in a more expensive part of the country would turn down.

If you have to buy a new printer, a better cell phone or improved plan, or more E&O insurance, your net after expenses is going to be less, even before you pay taxes on your earnings.

Even when someone tells you what they charge, it does not answer your question of what should YOU charge. It is YOUR business. You are responsible for setting your own fees, based on your own market research.

House made of Twenty Dollar Bills

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So This Happened

So, this happened.

2017 to 2021 Notary Commission

2017 to 2021 Notary Commission

Yes, I am commissioned for another four year term. This makes my 6th term of office.

I was sworn in earlier today. It was a good thing, as my previous commission expired next Friday and I was getting a bit nervous about cutting it close. So pleased to have this done. Now I just have to update my credentials with all of my clients.

 

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Why A Notary Signing Agent Must Call the Borrowers

I posted about this on my original blog several years ago. It all remains true. (I have added a few additional points to it that were not in the earlier version.)

Why A Notary Signing Agent Must Call the Borrrowers
Before Printing Documents or Making a Trip to the Signing Location

Sometimes, when I receive an assignment to handle a real estate signing as a Notary Signing Agent, my client will include a statement about going ahead even if I can not reach the signers/borrowers. Sometimes, they don’t provide useful phone numbers (disconnected, cell phone that is unanswered while they are at work, main switchboard for an employer where you need at least a department to reach the employee, or other circumstances). Whether it is because they don’t want anyone to call the borrowers or because the phone numbers given are not useful, this creates an issue and the need to explain why I insist on calling the signer and, preferrably, speaking with them first before I go out.

First, there is the matter of identification.

If they don’t have a form of I.D. acceptable under the Tennessee law and rules for Notaries Public, they need to get an acceptable I.D. before I arrive.

I do not expect title companies or lenders whose offices are in other states to be familiar with the notary laws and rules in Tennessee. That’s my job and I must follow the rules here.

Problems with their i.d. are a big issue for those who took title under one version of their name but have a different version of it on their driver license and other forms of i.d. The only ways around that are if I already know the signer(s) personally (rarely happens) or if we can use a credible witness, which can get complicated. I have only used a Credible Witness once or twice in all the many years that I have been a Notary Public.

Second, for a refinance loan (which most of my work as an NSA has been), there is the matter of funds changing hands.

If there is cash due from the borrower, it will have to be in a cashiers check or wire transfer it it is above a certain amount, which varies based on the title company and/or lender.

If there is money due to the borrower from the loan proceeds, the borrowers need to understand that I don’t deliver money; there is a 3 day right to cancel period that has to pass before the lender or title company will cut any outgoing checks.

If the borrower does not have the required funds due or if they expect me to deliver the funds coming to them, this could mean the signing does not take place.

Third, there is the matter of how long the signing will take.

Some loan officers tell borrowers it will take 30 minutes. In my experience (15+ years), the average signing take 60-90 minutes & can take as long as 2-3 hours, depending on circumstances. They need to know this & have set aside enough time to get it done so we don’t find ourselves having to stop before we are finished.

Fourth, there is the matter or where and when.

Sometimes, despite assurances from the title company and the lender that the appointment was confirmed, the signers are actually not available at the time and place on the work order. (I had one recently who lived in another state, with the work order showing the signing location here due to the property being here. They had no plans to visit the property on that date, so the appointment was re-assigned to a notary in the area where they lived.)

Sometimes, the borrowers are available yet they prefer to sign at a different time or place than indicated on the work order. I will accomodate them as much as I am able. If they want it to be earlier or a different day, they need to speak with their loan officer to make sure the loan documents are prepared in time with the correct info on them.

Part of this is also verifying that the location is where the online maps show it as being; those maps are not always accurate & I don’t want to get lost on the way there.

Also, sometimes the house numbers are impossible to read from the street, so knowing what landmarks or vehicles to look for can mean the difference between finding them and driving around looking.

In addition, some neighborhoods or properties can be unsafe to enter unless there is someone there who is expecting you.

Fifth, there is the matter of my fees.

(This is really the least important reason to me, but it is a reason.) I expect to be paid my full fee once I arrive at the signing location unless I do something wrong.

While print fees & trip fees are nice and certainly appreciated, I am there as a Notary Public, a disinterested third party witness. If you make my fee contingent on whether they sign the docs, this may be seen as changing the nature of my role in the signing to someone with a vested interest in encouraging them to sign.

I always try to be a Notary Public first & a Signing Agent second. If I arrive without speaking with the signer(s)/borrower(s) and they are not ready to proceed due to one of the above reasons or any other and you want to reduce my fee because they did not sign, this creates a conflict that I would rather avoid. Even if we have agreed in advance about my fees under such circumstances, it may be seen as a conflict of interest.

I am a professional Certified Notary Signing Agent. This explanation is offered so everyone involved will understand why providing good contact numbers for the borrowers is always a Good Idea and why asking a notary signing agent to “go ahead even if you can not reach them” is a Bad Idea.2017 National Notary Association badge - Trained, Background Screened, Certifed Notary Signing Agent

Notary to Pro Certificate

Notary2Pro Certificate

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How To Research Potential Clients for NSA Work 

Many notaries seem to believe that posting a question about a potential NSA client in a notary group on Facebook is all they need to do in order to say they have researched the firm.

While asking your competition to rate potential clients might raise issues about collusion or restraint of trade or price fixing,  so far at least, I have not seen any reports of any notary actually getting in trouble for posting such questions or for answering them.

So, I do understand the impulse to post such questions — but they don’t really constitute good research.

Here are my suggestions on what good research entails.

  • Check the forums on 123notary, NotaryRotary, and NotaryCafe.
  • Look them up on the rated list at 123notary.com/s
  • Use Google to see if there are any reviews or reports of issues posted about them online.
  • Visit them via Google to see if they have reviews on their My Google listing.
  • Look them up on yelp for reviews.
  • Look them up on the BBB site for the area where the firm is located.
  • Look them up on manta and ripoffreport.
  • If you’re a paid member, look them up on Signing Central on NotaryRotary.
  • If you’re a paid member, look them up on notarybeware.
  • Then use the search function on Facebook to look for posts about the company (limit it to your friends and groups to clear out company promos). Be sure you are a member of at least 10 or 12 notary groups so that your search here is fruitful.
  • If you’re in the Deadbeat Firms group on Facebook, look them up on their list in the Files area.

If that does not show you enough about them to decide whether they are a good fit to be a client, whether you want to extend credit to them by working assignments and getting paid later, whether you can trust them to pay you on time and as agreed without having to hassle with collections — then you might have to post a topic in the groups you are in and ask for recent experiences from the members and see what comes up.

Or you could call them and see if you can smell desperation or BS in their phone statements.


This is a foll0w-up to my recent post about Working the Lists, as well as the earlier posts that are mentioned in that article.

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Guest Post: On Notary Signing Agent Fees

This is from Jennifer Glover, owner of Prestige Notaries, a signing service. It’s so very true, so spot on, so wise that I cheered when I read it.

 I read a lot of posts about fees, we all do, and while I agree that making more money is always beneficial, there seems to be a lot of shaming going on and a LOT of misinformation. So here we go.

Not one person has the right to shame another for working and paying their bills. We all have personal situations that others do not know about. We all have different levels of experience, different cost of living, different money management, different levels of service, and the list goes on.

Each person must determine for themselves how much they need to average per signing. Then they should take into consideration their business expenses

Expenses include: commission, business license, insurance, bond, certifications, training, printer, toner, paper, pens, clips, folders, admin time, bookkeeping, mileage, square footage of home office and the cost to run that office utilities, a business only computer, business cards, marketing materials, website, encrypted email, business cellular or percentage of use, other mobile tools, association dues, listing fees, and more.

There are all sorts of notaries out there.

The notaries that excel at building their book of business, they go after the work, they are salespeople, they market themselves and their fees will reflect the work that they have put in to build their book of business.

Then there are those notaries who prefer the work to come to them, maybe they are great notaries, but they don’t do well promoting their business, they want someone else to do it for them. They might see less work unless they work with a signing service, so their fees will often reflect the work that they have put in.

Then there is the in-betweener, the notary that just likes to bust their tail, takes as much work as they can get, promotes their business and always answers the phone. These are the notaries that irritate so many people because they will take fees from low to high, they just like to stay busy and make money.

I will give you examples.

I, myself, worked only with title companies. I got up every day and dressed for the day whether or not I had any appointments. I drove to different offices several days a week to introduce myself and talk to decision makers. I sold myself and I was good at it. I spent hours upon hours driving and selling. I was not compensated for that time, so the fees that I charged when I received a call was a set fee. It was non-negotiable. I was always pleasant when someone tried to negotiate, but I simply explained that my fees were set and if they needed me in the future to please call. And I was busy.

Then I know a few notaries who work for local services who are guaranteed an average of 8 signings a day for less than half what I was charging. They never complained about their fees, in fact they were very happy with the stability and their net income, They were still netting $50/hr and where else can you make $50/hr or even $30/hr with little training and without a high school education? I never got mad at them for accepting fees less than half mine, because they had determined what was important to them and I didn’t know their circumstances.

Now, to discuss a lot of the misinformation I have been reading lately.

1) Title companies can be deadbeat too, don’t let them fool you. Just because they are a title company does not mean they pay fairly or timely.

2) Don’t always believe the fee you see on the Closing Disclosure. Reasons for increased fees a) application signing lumped into one notary fee, b) shipping provided by service lumped into notary fee, c) some title companies add a buffer “just in case” and any overage is reimbursed to the consumer, d) and then sometimes it is just a mystery. I have had closings come over where an extra $100 to $150 is on the notary fee and I wonder where it’s going, because it wasn’t what I agreed to…..

3) Not all notary fees are paid by the consumer. Many title companies pay the mobile notary fee from their settlement services fee. I see this most often on Refinances, Seller, and Office signings. If the fee is being paid by the title company then 8 out of 10 offices care what is being charged.

Most Closers are paid bonus based on the revenue from their files, so if they pay a notary $75 instead of $150 then their bonus is higher. Most large companies bonus closers based on how they compare to other closers who work for the same company, or they give them awards and recognize them. So the more revenue they make their company, the better they bonus and the more recognition they get.

At the end of the day we are all entrepreneurs; we are small business owners; we are independent. We get to do exactly what we want to do so long as it is legal. Figure out YOUR price point, value yourself, and be happy.

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