Stop Focusing on How Much Others Get Paid

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.

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On the Non-Borrowing Spouse

On the Non-Borrowing Spouse
by Tim Gatewood

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.

Posted May 20, 2020

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News on Notary Memphis

Due to the Covid-19 virus, Notary Memphis is closed until further notice.

During this break, we recommend you check with PakMail at 2809 Kirby Rd, Suite 116, Memphis 38119 for their notary’s hours.

Also, some UPS Stores may have notaries on staff.

We hope to resume offering notary services soon.

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More Thoughts on Notaries Fees

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles here on the subject of notary fees, there are good and sufficient reasons for not answering the “what do I charge?” question.

There are zero good reasons for answering it and doing so may be spreading misinformation (as my circumstances and those of the person asking may be very different).

As much as you want to know how much to charge, this is simply not an easy question that you should expect your competitors or random notaries in other states to answer for you.

That said, blaming people that take lower fees than you for the work you’re being offered is not going to help your business succeed.

I don’t blame new notaries for taking lower fees. Even if they knew what the market rates were for their specific market, they might still choose to take a lower fee in order to get experience. That is a business decision that they have every right to make.

Blaming other notaries for the fees being so low now is backwards, IMHO.

We simply cannot all be getting business from the same list of companies and doing so in the same way and expect the fees to stay the same while the pool of available NSAs is getting bigger. More supply vs the same demand means lower price. That’s basic business (or #businessbasics as I usually put it).

The only good answers that can ever be given to the fees question are 1) have you done your own market research? 2) What did that research tell you?

Asking random notaries on Facebook what to charge is not market research.


Some title companies are on snapduds and they pay like signing services. I’ve had several over the years that dropped their fees to notaries once they found out we were willing to take less by working for signing services.

My point is you don’t know that *most* title companies pay the ranges of fees that some people will tell you they pay. All you know is what the ones you have personally dealt with did.

As RON rolls out over the next year or 2, look for some title companies to open call centers with webcams and minimum wage employees who are notaries.

The endless berating online of other notaries for what they accept is pointless. Focus on how YOU are adapting to platforms and RON and blockchain technology. Those are what’s going to destroy your ability to make a living at being a notary. Competitors will come & go. Tech changes that benefit rich investors will be here much longer.


This article is one of several that I’ve posted here on the subject of notary fees.

Posted Sunday, August 4, 2019.

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On Making Your Notary Commission a Full-time Business

If you spend much time in any of the notary groups on Facebook, you will see that the eternal question goes something like this:

I’m a notary & heard I can make money at this. Is this true? How do I get started?

Here is my answer in several parts:

First, know the ways you can make money as a notary: How Do Notaries Make Money?

Second, get the education you need as a notary: Education For Notaries

Third, if notary signing agent work sounds appealing, do the research on it: Research Before Launching Your NSA Business

Fourth, get educated on NSA work if your research shows an unmet demand in your area or if you have a plan to out-compete others already active in your market: NSA Education

Fifth, get trained and credentialed: Training for NSAs – Part 3.

Sixth, read at least the last month of all the posts in every notary group you join on Facebook. Make notes of everything. Yes, everything. Read the files in the Files area in every group. Use the search function to look up every possible client. Use Google to look them up, too, as that should show you comments on NotaryRotary, NotaryCafe, 123notary, and other sites that aren’t Facebook.

And learn the terminology so you can speak like a professional (if you want to be treated like a pro, you need to sound like one): What Terms Mean.

Seventh, if you’ve become an NSA, read this: My Advice for New NSAs.

Finally, go to Amazon and get the ebook: Notary Marketing 2019 by Laura Vestanen. It costs less than $10 and it will teach you most of what you need to know about marketing for notaries.

I don’t make any money from endorsing her book. It’s just that good.

If you’re inclined to throw some money at me after reading all those free articles above, see my books page at Books .

And please remember to subscribe to this blog so you get new articles emailed to you for free, as well as hear about my new books as they come out.

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