When buying your dream home, there’s a lot to understand about homebuying and a lot of jargon to sort through. For example, what’s the difference between a notary and the notary signing agent? Let’s clear up what a notary signing agent — also known as a loan signing agent — really is so you can buy a home with confidence.
What is a notary signing
Let's first understand, “What’s a notary?” to help clarify the difference between these two positions. A notary is an impartial witness authorized by the state to perform certain legal functions, including the verification of identities, administration of oaths and certification of documents. Their primary purpose is to help prevent fraud and ensure that legal documents are executed properly.
So, what is a notary signing agent? A notary signing agent, or loan signing agent, is a specialized notary who is trained and certified to handle and notarize loan documents. While they have all the skills and authority of a traditional notary, notary signing agents bring an extra layer of to the table when it comes to handling loan-related paperwork.
This doesn’t mean, however, that every real estate transaction requires a notary signing agent. In some instances, a regular notary could be sufficient if there are legal documents to be authenticated but no loan documents to be handled. Notary signing agents simply bring additional understanding and expertise around transactions involving mortgages or other loan documents, but the needs and requirements of a particular real estate transaction may vary.
Notary signing agents in real estate
Now let’s learn a little more about the specific responsibilities of a notary signing agent in real estate transactions. Here are some of the primary duties of a notary signing agent:
Verifying the identity of parties involved
As with a traditional notary, one of the core functions of a notary signing agent is confirming the identity of individuals participating in a transaction. In a real estate context, this could involve verifying the identities of both the homebuyer and the seller. By doing so, the loan signing agent helps prevent fraudulent activities and protects the interests of all parties.
Witnessing document signing
Similarly, a notary signing agent is also responsible for the signing of loan documents, such as the promissory note, mortgage or deed of trust. Signing agents help ensure that all parties are aware of the contents and implications of the paperwork and are signing the documents willingly.
For example, during a home purchase, the notary loan signing agent would typically be present when the buyer signs the loan documents to help ensure the buyer understands the terms and conditions of the mortgage.
Ensuring accuracy and completion of loan documents
Making sure that all loan documents are accurate and complete can help avoid hiccups during real estate transactions. To do this, a notary signing agent will typically:
- Confirm all necessary mortgage documents are present.
- Check for any errors, such as incorrect names or figures.
- Ensure all required signatures, dates and initials are in place.
Once the notary signing agent is satisfied that everything is in order, they’ll notarize the documents. This seals the deal and helps pave the way for a successful real estate transaction.
How to find a notary signing agent
Locating a reliable notary signing agent is an important step in any real estate transaction. Here are some potentially helpful tips and considerations for finding a notary signing agent:
Traditional in-person notary signing agents
There are a few places you could source an in-person notary agent. In all cases, there will likely be costs associated with hiring a notary signing agent. These costs may vary depending on the services required and other specifics of your transaction.
- Banks and credit unions: Many financial institutions offer notary services, including notary signing agents, to their customers. It might be worth checking with your bank or credit union to see if they can provide this service or recommend someone who can.
- Real estate or title companies: These businesses often work closely with notary signing agents and could possibly point you in the direction of a reliable one. Reaching out to your real estate agent or title company might provide you with some worthwhile recommendations.
- Online directories: There are notary signing agents advertising their services online. Taking a moment to read their reviews and checking their credentials beforehand can help connect you with a notary signing agent suitable for your transaction.
Remote online notarization
Remote online notarization (RON) has as an alternative to traditional in-person notarization, especially after increased remote work and digital transactions. With RON, you can connect with a notary signing agent through a secure video conference, allowing you to complete the notarization process remotely. Here are a few helpful tips for finding the right RON provider:
- Research: searching for notary signing agents online, reading reviews and doing your due diligence can help connect you with a reliable notary signing agent.
- Verify state authorization: It helps to double check that the RON provider perform remote online notarizations in your state, as regulations can vary.
- Check their credentials: Confirming that the RON provider employs notary signing agents with the and certification to handle your specific real estate transaction can help reduce potential issues.
In a nutshell, a notary signing agent in real estate is a specialized notary who is certified to handle mortgage documents in real estate transactions. A notary signing agent or loan signing agent verifies the presence and accuracy of all necessary documents, that all parties understand and consent to the transaction and that all required signatures are made. As you embark on your homebuying adventure, remember to do your research to connect with a qualified and reputable notary, be it in-person or remote, to ensure your documents are handled effectively and responsibly.