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What Role Does A Real Estate Notary Play In The Home-Buying Process?

Jamie Johnson4-minute read

November 17, 2022

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Buying a home is a big deal for most people and an important step toward building wealth. And there’s a lot that goes into getting preapproved, finding the right home, and negotiating a fair price with the seller.

So, once you reach the closing stage, you may feel like you’re home free. But closing is a very detailed process, and if the paperwork is incorrect or missing dates or signatures, it could jeopardize your home purchase.

That’s why your title company will use a real estate notary to facilitate the home close. This article will explain more about what a real estate notary is, what they do, and how you can find the right one for your closing.

What Is A Notary Signing Agent?

A notary signing agent – also sometimes referred to as a real estate notary – is an individual who walks borrowers through all documents at their home loan closing. Most loan document packages include between 100 and 150 pages, and many of these pages need signatures, initials and dates.

A real estate notary walks you through your loan documents and witnesses you signing the paperwork. And several pages of the loan documents will require a notary acknowledgment. For that reason, a real estate notary must also be commissioned as a notary public.

Notary Public Vs. Notary Signing Agent

A notary public acts as a third-party witness to the signing of documents and can attest that all parties did so willingly. A notary public deals with a wide variety of documents, including wills, trusts, deeds, and affidavits.

In comparison, a notary signing agent specializes in home loan documents. They also have a traditional notary commission and are required to pass a background check each year.

And some states may have additional restrictions that notary signing agents must follow. For instance, some states require that a licensed attorney must also be present. And some states limit the maximum fees a notary signing agent can charge.

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What Does A Real Estate Notary Do?

A notary signing agent is an integral part of the home buying process – they are responsible for ensuring the closing is carried out correctly. They also ensure that all of the documents are in order.

Here are some of the responsibilities of a real estate notary:

  • Verify the identity of the homeowners signing the closing documents.

  • Ensure that all documents can be read and understood by the signer or sufficiently translated by a third party.

  • Ensure that all documents are signed, initialed, and dated correctly.

  • Notarize the documents correctly.

  • Ensure the documents are returned to the title company.

Notaries will also sometimes travel to a borrower’s home to facilitate remote closings. However, they do not offer advice about the loan or share their opinion about the information contained in the closing documents.

How Does A Notary Public Become A Notary Signing Agent?

There are many benefits of becoming a notary signing agent. You can charge more for handling loan document packages, and you’ll have complete control over your schedule and assignments.

Here are the steps notaries can take to become a notary signing agent:

  1. Become a commissioned notary public in your state – this is a requirement.
  2. Take a loan-signing training course.
  3. Pass an exam and background check compliant with Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW).
  4. Buy your signing agent supplies.
  5. Purchase a minimum $250,000 errors and omissions (E&O) insurance policy.
  6. Start working as a notary signing agent – you can promote your services by networking and joining national directories.

Can A Real Estate Agent Be A Notary?

Yes, a real estate agent can also be a notary signing agent, but there are some stipulations they have to follow. First, they must have their state-required notary license.

And second, they cannot have a financial interest in the project. So, they can’t be the real estate agent on a mortgage transaction and also the notary signing agent.

Assuming there’s no conflict of interest, becoming a notary can be an excellent way for real estate agents to earn an additional income stream.

How Can I Find A Real Estate Notary Near Me?

Choosing the right real estate notary is critical when you're closing on your home. If the notary makes a mistake, it could put your home purchase at risk.

Your title company may have a real estate notary they usually work with, or they may choose someone from a pool of qualified candidates. But you also have the right to choose your own real estate notary.

You can use the National Notary Association to find a notary signing agent near you. By using this service, you’ll know that anyone you find has gone through training, certification, and a background check with the NNA.

The Bottom Line

A real estate notary is a crucial part of the closing process because they ensure that all documents are signed correctly. This can help you avoid unnecessary mistakes that could slow down the closing process or even cost you your home purchase.

Buying a house is a huge responsibility, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing. You can make this process easier by learning about each stage of the home buying process. And if you’re getting ready to close on a home, be sure to learn more about how the closing process works.

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Jamie Johnson

Jamie Johnson is a Kansas City-based freelance writer who writes about a variety of personal finance topics, including loans, building credit, and paying down debt. She currently writes for clients like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Insider, and Bankrate.