Who Sets the Fees for a Notary Signing Agent ?

Sometimes, notaries who are fed up with low fees offered for notary signing agent work will go online to make comments comparing the notary signing agent business to plumbers, electricians, HVAC people,  and other skilled tradespeople. This comparison has some flaws to it, in my opinion.

Skilled and licensed service vendors who are dealing with customers (no contract and no long-term relationship) and who are in very high demand are in a different position from commissioned notaries who are dealing with clients (contracts and, you hope, long-term relationships) who know that they can always find someone else.

It is expensive to get the skills and the license to be a plumber or an electrician or most other trades. Insurance premiums for those jobs are high because of the likelihood of errors leading to claims. Those jobs require a sizable investment in equipment and generally require renting or owning buildings or offices.

On the other hand, it is often very inexpensive to become a notary and there is no training required in most states. (*) The cost of Errors and Omissions insurance for notaries is cheap because claims are rare. A notary signing agent can work from home and the cost of equipment involved is often no more than a few hundred dollars. Even the ongoing expenses are less for an NSA business than for most trades.

As far as being in high demand, there are many, many notaries who don’t value their time very highly and have no clue of what the expenses of a successful business includes.

Signing services and title companies know these facts. They know that there are notaries out there who will take almost any assignment that pays above a certain rate, even if the rate is ridiculously low. So, they offer “low-ball” fees or play the “let me see if I can get that approved” game when we tell them what our reasonable fee is.

We have to negotiate with our clients, unlike skilled and licensed trades that are generally in such high demand that they can set their own rates and terms.

Whether the conversation about fees originates with them making an offer or with us saying what we expect, it is still a negotiation. You can refuse to work for less than X, but if Y is all the market in your area is paying, you will starve. You must know the market conditions before you set your fees.

There must be balance between what you want and what you can get if your business is going to succeed.

As Laura Vestanen wrote in her excellent book about marketing your non-loan notary services, the market does not care what you deserve. It only cares what you can get and that depends on market conditions.

———

(* Although most states do not have statutory requirements for training, there is no way that a notary can learn what is expected of them other than by being trained. As case law and custom both require that notaries be aware of  all the duties of their office, you must educate yourself and seek out training in order to protect yourself as you serve the public. This site and my upcoming books and the resources referred to in them are my  attempt to highlight some of the places where I have gotten notary education and/or some of the places where you can get notary education.)

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About Tim Gatewood

55+, male, widowed (May 2016). Mobile notary public and signing agent, freelance writer, and ordained minister. Science fiction and fantasy fan, willing servant to cats, avid reader and collector of books and other stuff. Please see my websites (including this blog and others) for more info on me and what I think about the issues of the day.
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