Notary 201: A Successful Loan Signing

Loan Signing Pre-Checklist.

By preparing for your loan signing you will make for a more comfortable transaction for everyone. Loan officers, escrow officers, and realtors will appreciate your professional services. You will become reputable and trustworthy. You will also minimize mistakes.

  • Allow time to print, travel, and review documents in advance.
  • Review the loan docs before printing? Did everything scan to you correctly?
  • Review that documents are not ‘pre-dated’ and that names/addresses look correct.
  • Print documents according to their parameters. Letter is printed to letter size, legal is printed to legal-sized paper.
  • Review lending instructions for specific signing instructions (ex: “sign exactly as name appears”)
  • Find the all the documents to be notarized and prepare your journal in advance.
  • Consider the documents that the signers will want to see before signing to make them feel more comfortable.
  • Allow for lots of travel time to ensure that you are punctual to the appointment.

The Information the borrowers want to see.

As the notary, it’s not your role to advise or explain the documents, we’ll leave that to the industry professionals (loan officers, realtors, attorneys, etc). We CAN make sure that the signers are comfortable before signing any documents. By providing the signers with the documents they want to see most, they can affirm the terms, agreements, and numbers they are looking for! This helps diffuse most all anxieties they have before even starting the signing. So what information do signers typically want to see?


Loan Amount, Rate, and Terms

Many signers have made the decision to “sign their life away” as they’ll say at the conference table. Before they do, they want to make sure they are signing to the right terms.  These loan terms can often be found on the ‘Note’. On the note, a borrower can find the “Interest Rate”, The “Loan Amount”, and the “Terms of the Loan” (ex: Fixed, Adjustable, Etc).  By having first verified that these items are correct, the borrowers will be more ready to sign willingly. If there are any questions about the terms, they should be in touch with their loan officer for confirmation.


Monthly Payment Amount

The monthly payment amount including any impounds for taxes, home insurance, and mortgage insurance can be found on the “Monthly Payment Letter. It’ll provide the first payment due date and the mailing address to send monthly payments.


Closing Costs and Final Wire Amount

Another main item that borrowers are concerned about is the closing costs that will be incurred during a loan closing. In an optimal situation all the officers and institutions involved should be disclosing these costs in advance. The borrower still may want to review the costs of the loan and the final amount due to escrow. These items can be found on the closing disclosure or the escrow settlement statement. The closing disclosure is a mandatory government disclosure provided to protect the consumer, it is a great place to review the terms and costs of the loan. The Escrow Settlement Statement provides an easy way to view a balance sheet of all the total costs (debit column) and how they will be paid for (the credit column). At the very bottom of this form, the final line item should include the amount due escrow or a refund (if money is due to borrowers).  Wiring instructions can be provided by the escrow company to send final funds.


Remember your Role as a Notary

As a notary, it’s great to be prepared and to be quick in providing the documents the signers want to see. Always remember, you are not an officer for the bank, or the escrow, or third parties involved in the transaction. If there is a question about the loan the borrowers should be directed to call the loan officer or lending institution. If there is an escrow question, contact the escrow officer. If there is a question about real estate contracts or next steps, contact the real estate agent. Any legal advice should be saved for attorneys.  Your role as a notary is as defined in the California Notary Handbook. Stick to that.