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How to Become a Mobile Notary
You can be Your Own Boss as a Mobile Notary
Thirty years ago when I was working in the mortgage lending field, obtaining a mortgage loan was a four to six or more week process. It also required a minimum of two trips to the bank with the first involving the taking of the application and the second for the signing of the papers at closing. Of course, if there were questions or problems with the home or the borrower's credit, additional visits to the bank might be required.
Things have changed over the past thirty years and when my wife and I refinanced our mortgage last summer we never left home. I answered some questions for the loan officer over the phone and faxed and mailed some additional information. When the application package was complete a representative made an appointment to come to our home where we reviewed and signed the papers. A week or so later the loan officer called me to say that the loan was approved and set an appointment for the representative to come back to our home for the closing. The representative again came to our home where we reviewed and signed the papers. Two days later I was informed that the old mortgage was paid off and the new, lower rate one, was in place. Talk about convenience and customer service!
A Good Second Career
The key to this process was the representative. This person was a self employed notary public who did contract work with the lender we were dealing with as well as a couple of other lenders. This particular gentleman was retired from the military and had started his own business from home as a notary public. However, unlike other notaries who work as an employee and notarize documents when necessary as a minor part of their job or are a self-employed professional, such as a lawyer or accountant, who are also a notary and notarize documents for a fee as a small sideline to their regular duties, this gentleman was making a good living as a notary. The big difference between him and more traditional notaries is the fact that he is a mobile notary.
There is no difference between a traditional notary and a mobile notary in terms of job duties and the requirements for becoming a notary. Both are identical and there is no legal difference between the two. The difference is how they practice their trade. Traditional notaries support themselves with income from a regular job and are notaries on the side. Since most states regulate the fees that a notary can charge and usually set very low maximum rates, there is no way a person can support themselves by simply notarizing documents.
However, while mobile notaries have to follow the same fee structure for notarizing documents, they are able to support themselves as notaries by offering at least two other closely related services whose prices are not regulated. The first service is convenience and the second is form filling. If I go to the notary, the most I can be charged is the maximum fee allowed per document notarized (in some places this can be as low as twenty-five or fifty cents). However, if the notary comes to me, I will have to pay the small charge for the actual notary service PLUS a fee for the notary's time and travel expenses, and these are whatever the notary wants to charge. Of course, competition will help keep these fees in line and the mobile notary should either post time and travel charges or advise the clients of this amount when the appointment is made. Why would someone pay fifteen or twenty dollars or more to have a notary come to them when a consumer can have a document notarized at their bank for free and a business can go to a notary and rarely pay more than a few dollars for the service? If a consumer, making say, $20 per hour, has a document that needs notarizing and they are given the choice of taking an hour and a half off from work (at a cost of $30 in lost pay) to go to a notary or paying a notary $15 to come to their place of employment during break time, doesn't it make more sense to pay the $15 for the notary to come to them. In the case of a business, it will usually cost a business person more in terms of lost work time to go to a notary than to pay a mobile notary to come to them.
The second service, form filling, basically involves the notary preparing loan documents by filling in the blanks in existing document templates and then delivering them to the borrower's (and seller's if it is a loan for a home purchase rather than a refinance) for signing and notarizing. Note that the mobile notary simply fills in blanks on a document template. In almost every state, except Louisiana, notaries are forbidden to draft (write) legal documents, but it is perfectly legal for a notary, or anyone else for that matter, to fill in the names of the borrowers, addresses, loan amounts, etc. With computers, this process of forms filling can be done quickly and efficiently. In the case of the gentleman who came to my house with the loan papers, he was paid for each signature that he notarized (there were about five documents that required notarization and both my wife's and my signature had to be notarized so that gave him ten notary fees), he was paid for completing and printing the loan documents and he was paid for his travel and time spent at our home. Of course the lender paid him after including what they paid the mobile notary in the fees I was charged for the loan.
Given the amount of loan business alone, a mobile notary can probably make a good living performing form filling and going to people's homes to have the forms signed and notarized for just a few lenders. However, due to the cyclical nature of the housing and mortgage market, a person going into business as a mobile notary should diversify into other areas of mobile notary services as well and this would including form filling of other, non-mortgage, legal forms as well as traveling around town to notarize documents and perform any other duties their particular state allows..
Given the growing volume of business and the growing number of forms that need to be notarized, becoming a mobile notary can be a very good home based business for enterprising individuals. In the links capsule below I have included a link to my previous article on the requirements and process involved in becoming a notary as well as links to other sites with useful information on notaries and mobile notary business.
Useful Notary Links
- My Hub Describing the Notary Public Profession
This Hub describes the history and duties of a notary public. It also contains links to sites detailing the requirments and process that each state and territory (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) requires to become a notary
- U.S. Mobile Notary Association
National trade association for mobile notaries.
- The Mobile Notary - a Guide to Mobile Notaries in U.S.
Guide to help consumers find a mobile notary as well as a site for potential mobile notaries to do some market research on competition in this area.
- U.S.A. Mobile Notary Public Directory
A national directory of Mobile Notary Publics - this is a site for consumers looking for a notary as well as a site for potential mobile notaries to do some market research on competition in this area.
- Notary Rotary
A site for professional notaries