Differences Between Loan Signing Agents and Notary Publics

August 5th, 2022 / Notary Association of America

As a notary public, you may be looking for new ways to help your customers beyond being an impartial, third-party witness. One branching out opportunity for you as a notary is adding signing agent services to your repertoire. While you must already be a notary public to obtain your loan agent certification, there is a divergence in the two roles, their responsibilities, and their education requirements. Take a look at some of these differences below to decide whether becoming a loan signing agent is the right decision for your business.

1. A loan signing agent must know the ins and outs of loan contracts in their industry.

Although loan signing agents predominately handle real estate transactions, such as mortgages, their services may also be needed for other types of loans, including refinance, commercial, and equity loans. Regardless of industry, a signing agent should be able to walk a client through a loan contract and explain any questions that may arise. Keep in mind that a notary public without signing agent certification may not act as anything other than an impartial witness for a client.

2. Loan signing agent licensing requires additional courses, workshops, and exams.

Loan contracts typically consist of over one hundred pages of information that require signatures and notarization. Although being a notary public is a prerequisite to becoming a loan signing agent, there may still be a steep learning curve. Be prepared to use a mixture of classes, workshops, and study guides to pass an official exam through an accredited notary association in order to receive your signing agent certification.

Additionally, a signing agent may be required to retake an exam every year to maintain certification. Agents may also need complementary licenses, such as a Title Insurance License; these license requirements may differ by state.

3. Loan signing agents may be required to undergo more frequent background checks.

Loan signing agents often handle more high-risk documents than those of a notary public. Loan contracts contain sensitive financial information, as well as borrowers’ personal information, such as addresses. To comply with your state’s regulations, you should expect to undergo background checks every year. This requirement is especially true of real estate transactions, where borrowers trust you with their financial assets to make a home purchase.

4. Loan signing services are often valued at a higher rate than those of notary publics.

Unlike notary publics, loan signing agents may be able to charge up to $200 or more just for their labor alone—not per stamp. In fact, signing agents may also charge the cost of a notarization as an additional fee on top of their work guiding their client through the loan contract. Other related fees that can be expensed include mailing the loan package and printing loan documents.

5. Loan signing agents typically work on-site at companies.

While you may offer remote online notarization (RON) or remote ink-signed notarization (RIN) services as a notary public, loan signing agents are not usually considered mobile. That doesn’t mean that you cannot offer your services as a mobile signing agent and travel to your borrowers’ homes or businesses. However, loan signing agents are often present at institutions that regularly require their services, such as banks and insurance companies.