It began as a usual mortgage closing day. The Professional Signing Agent, Carol Wilson, printed the mortgage documents and reviewed them before heading out. This was a reverse mortgage loan and she had already confirmed the appointment with the signer. You can find out more about Reverse Mortgage Loans at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0192-reverse-mortgages. Carol’s job is to identify the signer, assure that the signer is reasonably competent to sign and that she understands what she is signing, and is not being coerced by anyone. Once at the signing location Carol makes sure her name badge is visible and grabs her briefcase before ringing the doorbell.
“Hi, Mrs. Doe. I’m Carol Wilson, the signing agent to close your loan. We spoke over the phone.” Mrs. Doe replied, “Yes, come on in. We can sit here at the kitchen table.” Once at the table, Carol asks for Mrs. Doe’s primary and secondary identification such as a Driver’s License and Social Security Card, respectively.
As she began to record Mrs. Doe’s primary information in her notary journal she makes small talk and asks Mrs. Doe how she’s been doing. “I’ve been doing ok I guess. I’ve just been so nervous about doing this loan. I don’t know if I should go through with it or not.” Carol finishes up in the journal and gets Mrs. Doe’s signature, before placing the journal in the briefcase.
“Mrs. Doe you mentioned you’re nervous about this loan. What is it exactly that has you so nervous?” Mrs. Doe replied, “I haven’t financed a home since I bought this one over 40 years ago. I just don’t know if it’s a good thing to do.” Carol asked her if her lender had explained everything to her and how the process worked. She said yes, they had a few times but she just doesn’t know.
As Carol pulled out the documents she said, “Mrs. Doe, My scope of duties allows me to tell you what the documents are and their function but I cannot explain to you what they mean. That would be the illegal practice of law; therefore, I can only show you ‘Where’ the answers to your questions are in the documents. If you have any questions as to ‘How’, ‘Why’, or ‘What’ then we’d have to get your lender on the phone. So, at this time we will review the documents and if you still have questions or any uneasiness we can contact your lender. Is that fair enough?”
As Carol pointed out the specifics of the loan on the Settlement Statement, Notes, Mortgages, and other documents she asked if there were any questions left that Mrs. Doe needed to be answered. “No. You explained it all very well. You showed me what I needed and that answered my questions. You actually explained it to me better than they did. I feel a lot better now.” “Great, then let’s complete the signing of the other documents,” Carol replied.
As Mrs. Doe signed the documents she explained, “The reason I’m doing this is because I only get $1,000 a month in Social Security and it’s hard to pay bills, buy food, and get my medicine. If I sold my home I’d have to live in an apartment and pay rent. The money wouldn’t last too long. This extra money would help me but I still just don’t know if I’m doing the right thing.” “Well, Mrs. Doe,” said Carol, “do you have children? Have you discussed this with them?” “Yes, I have one child and she is okay with it. She said she doesn’t mind having the house left to her when I’m gone. She just wants me to do what I need to do in order to live comfortably right now. I’m 80 years old and this would give me an extra $1,000 a month for the next ten years. I don’t expect to be here past 90 anyway. If I do I still get to stay in my home unless I’m in a nursing home then they can get the house. But I guess at that time it won’t matter.”
As Mrs. Doe explained her situation Carol listened intently and secretly hoped she would make the choice to go through with the loan as it sounded like a great plan, especially since her child was all for it. “Mrs. Doe, I cannot advise you on what to do but you do have three days to have someone you trust to look over your documents and discuss with them. Tell you what, let’s get your lender on the phone right now and you can ask him anything you want. Get any questions out of the way.”
After they hung up from the lender Mrs. Doe said,“Carol, you have been a big help. You were patient with me and you listened. I feel much better now. My daughter already told me she thought it was a good deal for me. I was just nervous at first but after talking with you and getting the lender on the phone I feel much better about it!”
With a smile, Carol replied, “Mrs. Doe, sometimes all we need is just a listening ear. You really made up your own mind with the information you already had. You just needed a sounding board and I’m so glad I was the one. Here are your set of documents and remember you have three days in which to rescind. It was truly a pleasure to meet you and chat with you.”
As they concluded the transaction and Carol gathered her things Mrs. Doe invited her to come back some time and visit with her. She said she hardly ever gets visitors and they could sit and have some tea. Carol graciously accepted that invitation and really did have every intention of going back to visit with her. They hugged and Carol was on the way back to the office to review the documents one more time for any missed signatures, errors, etc. before dropping them for next day delivery.
Although it usually takes an hour to close a refinance mortgage loan of 178 pages and 18 notarizations, this particular Reverse Mortgage took her three hours. She enjoyed every minute of sitting with this 79-year-old new friend. Being a Professional Notary Signing Agent comes with ups and downs just like any other profession but the highlight for Carol is getting to meet and help people she otherwise may never get to meet.
Carol has been a signing agent for over 12 years and she says “although I’ve never had an irate client I’ve had a few frustrated ones. I know they are never frustrated with me. It’s never personal. They may have had many issues with the loan process and by the time I come to them they just need someone to vent to. Just saying, ‘I understand how you feel’ or ‘I’m sorry you’ve had to go through that but I’m glad we’re at the finish line now’ is usually all it takes, aside from a genuine concern for them, and they are calmer.
Borrowers can sense when you’re in a hurry and they will feel like they are not important. Every signing is just as important as the previous or the next. I try to space them out far enough apart so that undivided attention can be given to each and every assignment.” Signing off….until the next signing.
Carol first became a Professional Notary Signing Agent in May 2005 and is currently an active full-time agent. She is a mother and grandmother and enjoys writing in her spare time.
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