As a Paralegal, there are an exciting number of opportunities available to make extra income, or even start your very own business as a mobile notary!
I came from a background of 20 years in the medical field only to decide I wanted a change. I went back to school, became a Certified Paralegal, and started my own freelance business. Having learned a lot along the way, I have had some unexpected success that I would like to share!
The biggest surprise I had for this newly formed business was how easy and profitable becoming a Mobile Notary (Signing Agent) would be. I incorrectly assumed the majority of my work would come from attorneys, spending countless hours in a cubicle with frequent visits to the local courthouse. Fortunately, I was incorrect!
After I became a Signing agent, I was making money within a month! I was not stuck in an office, the pay was great, and best of all, I picked the jobs I took.
Another huge benefit? You can actually bid on each job and potentially make anywhere from $100.00 a job to $200.00 or more depending on your state and demand!
What is a signing agent?
What exactly is a Signing Agent you ask? A Signing Agent is basically a notary who has become credentialed, background checked and who carries Errors and Omissions Insurance. I primarily deal in real estate closings.
A typical job looks like this:
- Receive a text, call or email stating the nature of the job and offering pay.
- 9 times out of 10 the pay is low, so counter bid.
- Receive a confirmation that the job was given to you.
- Log on to the Platform, or receive specific email instructions to contact the signer and confirm time, location and identification information.
- Print out the documents on a laser printer with legal size paper (most times a refinance package is 120 to 200 pages)
- Review the documents while printing the signers copy on a jet ink printer with letter size paper.
- Contact the signing agency or title company with questions or inaccuracies on the documents (This happens a lot, be prepared)
- Travel to the signing destination.
- Verify each signer’s identification and begin the signing process.
- Go over each page in general terms as far as basic content, always have signer contact bank or lender with legal or financial questions
- Take paperwork, put it in a legal-size envelope for either Fed Ex or UPS with the companies preprinted label, drop the documents if there are no Scan back requirements.
- If Scan backs are required, scan them in, then drop documents immediately after or wait for approval depending on previous directions given by the company.
- Contact signing or title company in the platform (or however was previously advised) that the signing was completed successfully, or not depending on the outcome.
- Wait 30 to 45 days for payment depending on the company.
- Keep good documentation as to the jobs you have done, the pay accepted, the mileage and any additional personal expenses.
What to expect
Basically, if all goes according to plan, you can expect to make on average, roughly $100.00 to $200.00 an hour, not including drive time.
A typical signing takes about an hour. I find most often the well-organized companies have already reviewed the documents with the signer, so other than reviewing the financial piece, very few want to read each detail, as this has already been thoroughly explained.
In these situations, the signings can be 30 minutes long. I have also had signings that have taken 2 hours plus due to disabled, or elderly signers. The most important factor is fully identifying the signers, feeling comfortable that they are signing willfully, and that they have the capacity to understand what they are signing.
Of course, you don’t need to medically evaluate someone, but if they seemed forced or do not understand what they are signing, you would want to stop the signing immediately and contact the company that sent you.
Benefits to being a mobile notary include:
2. Great Pay
3. Low Initial Startup Costs
4. Ability to Meet New People
5. The Ability to Serve the Community!
These are the biggest successes I have had in my freelance business!
Mobile Notary Skills
As Paralegals, we possess the qualities most important to be successful as a Signing Agent.
2. Carry a professional demeanor.
3. Can successfully manage deadlines.
4. Have a great “follow-up.”
5. Are concerned about the quality of our work.
6. Most importantly, we are not afraid to check 200 pages of documents!
If this sounds like something you may be interested in, below is a checklist to get started.
First steps to becoming a notary
☐ Visit www.nationalnotary.org (N.N.A.)
☐ Select “Become a Notary”, choose your state and follow the prompts. This will guide you through state-specific requirements.
☐ When you have completed the quick and very easy notary test, ordered your stamp and supplies go back to the above-mentioned website for the N.N.A.
☐ Click “Become a Signing Agent” and again follow state-specific prompts.
After you have completed the signing agent course
☐ Obtain background check (again, I recommend doing so through N.N.A.)
☐ Obtain E and O insurance (Errors and Omissions) I highly recommend at least $100,000.00. You may want to or need to carry a higher amount based on your state, you can also purchase this from N.N.A which I recommend.
☐ Join the N.N.A membership when prompted to do so. They are available to answer difficult signing questions to protect you legally as the information they give will be based on your state laws. Also, initially, most of your job offers will come from their “Signing Agent” site.
☐ Sign up as a Signing Agent on www.snapdocs.com. This site is free and very easy to navigate. It will also give you a majority of job offers. To fully navigate the site, there are many YouTube videos explaining how to utilize it to the utmost benefit. It can track all of your signings (even jobs that come from outside the Snapdocs platform and help you track your payments as most of these companies pay 30- 45 days post-closing.
Be prepared for initial investments
☐ Notary Course, Signing Agent Course, Notary supplies, E and O insurance, background check. I suggest getting QuickBooks to track mileage and expenses. The mobile app has auto-tracking so you don’t have to enter milage manually.
☐ A laptop (if you don’t already have one) A Laser printer that prints legal-size documents (No need to invest in color, black and white is fine. You can purchase a dual tray which will be easier, as you can download the “packages” that contain the documents that must be legal sized as well as the regular size. I don’t feel this is necessary as I just print them all on legal size so there is no dispute on the legality of the document and it needing to be legal size.
☐ Laser ink cartridges. These can be fairly pricey. I have used off-brand cartridges at half the price, and have had great consistent print quality, however, unless you get a specific brand recommendation from someone you know and trust, this can backfire and there’s nothing worse than having an ink cartridge leak or be of unacceptable quality for your very important documents.
☐ I suggest also purchasing a normal inkjet printer. Typically, you will need to print copies of the documents to leave with the signers. These don’t require legal size paper or LaserJet quality.
☐ I purchased a mobile scanner that scans legal documents so I can do “Scanbacks” if the job requires it, and I won’t have to drive home to do so. It helps me be free to accept more work on busy days.
☐ Other notary platforms. There are several other notary platforms that have associated fees with them. They didn’t bring many jobs offers personally; I had a lot more activity with the above-mentioned free platforms.
You can download your own copy of the list above to get started as a mobile notary. You can explore some more paralegal side gig ideas or get more tips for working remotely as a mobile paralegal here.
Good luck! And in case you don’t hear it enough…thank you for all you do!
Meet the Author
Heather Gonzalez is a Certified Paralegal. She owns Pennington and Associates L.L.C. This business is a freelance company offering Paralegal, Notary, Signing Agent, and Field Agent services throughout the United States.