How to Become a Notary Loan Signing Agent (and Why You Might Want to)

Notary loan signing agents have to be commissioned as notary publics and typically need to pass a certification exam and background check.

Notary helping a client
Updated May 13, 2024
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Requirements for becoming a notary loan signing agent depend on where you live, but often include passing a certification exam and background screening. This is different from becoming a mobile notary, though both professions require a notary public commission in your state.

Learn about the details of becoming a loan signing agent, including the potential benefit of adding over $1,000 per month to your income depending on the number of appointments you have.

In this article

What is a notary signing agent?

A notary signing agent is a notary public with a specific focus on handling home loan documents. Notary signing agents are also referred to as notary loan signing agents, loan signing agents, NSAs, or LSAs.

A notary public often serves as an impartial witness to the signing of important documents. A loan signing agent does the same thing but has increased specialization when it comes to home loan documents. So where your average notary public might work with a variety of different documents in varying industries, a loan signing agent has a niche in the mortgage and lending industry.

A loan signing agent’s increased specialization is often due to taking training courses and passing a certification exam and background check. Exact requirements depend on your state but could include passing an exam and background screening each year.

Loan signing agent responsibilities could include:

  • Printing loan documents
  • Meeting clients
  • Notarizing client signatures
  • Returning documents to lenders or other companies

Note that a loan signing agent is similar to a mobile notary, but they’re not the same thing.

How to become a notary signing agent

The steps for becoming a notary loan signing agent are fairly simple, but they vary slightly depending on the state. Here are a few tips on how to get started:

Get your state notary commission

You first have to be a notary public to be a loan signing agent. This is a requirement for all loan signing agents regardless of where you live. The steps for becoming a notary public depend on where you live, but here are a few general guidelines:

  1. Comply with your state’s notary laws, which could include being at least 18 years old, having no criminal record, and being a legal resident of the state where you want to become a notary public.
  2. Complete and submit an application to become a notary public. This could include passing a test, such as the Utah Notary test if you want to become a public notary in Utah.
  3. Pay any applicable fees related to applications and/or tests. For example, the Utah Notary test has a $95 administration fee.
  4. Take any required training courses in your state and pass a background check if applicable.
  5. Receive your notary commission and become a commissioned notary after going through your state’s notary public application process. The entire process could take between four to nine weeks.
  6. Obtain a notary bond if required in your state. This is sometimes called a surety bond and is required in many states. A notarial bond helps protect clients against financial harm due to your actions as a notary public. You might also want errors and omissions insurance (E&O; insurance) to help protect yourself.
  7. Buy notary supplies such as seal stamps or seal embossers, notary journals, and anything else you might need to start your notary public business.
  8. Find work as a public notary by marketing yourself and your services through word-of-mouth, social media, a website, business cards, and any other way that might be useful to you.

Tip
Note that you can typically find information about notary public requirements in your state by doing an online search for notary public commission and then adding the state where you want to become a notary public. For example, notary public commission colorado should bring up the government website for becoming a notary public in Colorado.

Certification and training as a loan signing agent

It’s not officially required to have a certification or any type of training to be a loan signing agent. But you might find trouble getting hired for jobs if you don’t have some kind of training or specific certification.

There are multiple organizations that provide loan signing agent training and certification, but these are two of the most popular:

  1. National Notary Association (NNA): Provides packages that include training on the types of documents you might encounter as a loan signing agent. Training packages include a certification exam.
  2. Loan Signing System (LSS): Loan signing service that provides packages that include notary signing agent training and certification.

Again, these signing agent courses and certifications aren’t typically required to become a loan signing agent. But they’re often recommended unless you already have connections within the industry who can vouch for you.

Get listed on notary loan signing agent databases

You might be wondering how to find loan signing agent jobs after becoming a notary public, finishing a signing agent training course, and getting a certification. One way to get started is to list your profile on notary loan signing agent databases, including:

People, companies, and services use these types of websites to find loan signing agents in their area to help with the loan closing process. Being listed could help get your name out and connect you with potential clients such as real estate agents, title companies, and escrow companies.

Some of these websites allow you to list your profile for free, but you typically have to buy a paid membership if you want more benefits.

For example, Notary Rotary offers a free membership where you’ll be listed in its notary database. But a paid membership (first year is $99) with Notary Rotary gets you discounts on notary supplies and your profile is listed before basic members.

Tip
Networking with loan officers and others in the real estate industry is another way to find work as a notary public loan signing agent.

How do loan signing agents make money?

Loan signing agents typically make money per appointment or job they complete. This often includes going over home loan documents (not offering legal advice) with a borrower and notarizing their signature.

But as an independent contractor, you don’t have a salary or set hours. Rather, you have a lot of control over how often you work and how much you get paid.

Here are a few things to consider about how loan signing agents make money:

  1. Your rates: You set your own rates as an independent contractor. This basically means you get to set a rate for each of your appointments, which will typically involve going over mortgage loan documents with signers. This doesn’t mean you should set sky-high prices, especially if you don’t have much experience. Consider the typical range of $75 to $200 per appointment and what the average prices are in your area.
  2. State fees: Many states have limits in place for notarial service fees. This could mean there’s a maximum fee you can assess for different services such as traveling to a client or performing a remote online notarization (RON). It’s against the law in applicable states to go over the set fee limits, which could affect your potential profits.
  3. Other costs: Loan signing agents could have a number of costs, including training, certifications, supplies, gas, car maintenance, and more. Before thinking about making $200 per appointment, consider how additional costs might eat into your profits.

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Benefits of becoming a notary loan signing agent

Income opportunity

The primary benefit and goal for most people who want to become a loan signing agent is to make money. This could be to replace a full-time income, but you might be more interested in becoming a loan signing agent for a secondary income stream.

The good news is that loan signing agents have decent income opportunities. Making $75 to $200 per appointment is a reasonable estimate, though the actual pay could vary depending on your experience and where you live.

But using that range, we can estimate how much money you might be able to make each year. Let’s say you have at least four appointments per week. That would net you a weekly amount of $300 ($75 x 4 = $300) on the low end and $800 ($200 x 4 = $800) on the high end.

Your annual pay range using these numbers would be between $15,600 ($300 x 52 = $15,600) and $41,600 ($800 x 52 = $41,600). You can see how this estimated range could fluctuate depending on your average number of weekly appointments and how much you charge per appointment.

Independent contractor

Loan signing agents are typically classified as independent contractors, which are self-employed individuals as defined by the Internal Revenue Service. Independent contractors have to worry about self-employment taxes, but they tend to have more freedom with their schedules compared to typical full-time employees.

As an independent contractor, you set your own schedule. There’s no clocking in between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. unless that’s something you set for yourself. Rather, you can work whenever you can or want to.

So if you already have a full-time job, you could potentially fit the responsibilities of being a loan signing agent in where you can. This could mean working a few part-time hours each day after finishing your full-time responsibilities.

If you’re too busy at any point to schedule more loan signing appointments, you don’t have to.

Income diversification

Having multiple streams of income is helpful for staying financially stable during turbulent times. For example, if you suddenly lose your job, do you have a backup income option?

Being a notary loan signing agent might not be your dream full-time career, but successful agents can pay their bills and continue to thrive with their businesses. After all, there’s typically no shortage of loan documentation needing notarizing. Many people who buy or refinance a home or get a reverse mortgage need a loan signing agent.

And under certain circumstances, you might find yourself making the decision to turn a side hustle into a full-time career.

Mobile notary vs. notary signing agents

Mobile notaries and notary signing agents are both commissioned as notary publics. But a mobile notary and notary signing agent aren’t necessarily the same thing.

Here are a few differences between mobile notaries and notary signing agents:

  • Types of documents: Mobile notaries often work on a variety of documents while notary signing agents focus on home loan documents.
  • Expertise: You have to be commissioned as a notary public to be a mobile notary or a notary signing agent. But notary signing agents typically complete additional training focused on how to handle home loan documents.
  • Ongoing requirements: The exact requirements depend on where you live, but notary signing agents often have to pass a certification exam and background screening. This could be an annual occurrence depending on the state.

Having a mobile notary service or a notary loan signing agent business could provide you with additional opportunities to make money.

Visit our page on how to become a mobile notary to learn more about this side hustle.

FAQs

Is a loan signing agent a good side hustle?

Yes, a loan signing agent is a good side hustle if you can make it work. It’s not uncommon for part-time agents to make between $500 to $1,000 or more per month. Note that you typically have to be commissioned as a notary public in your state and there are often some startup costs.

How do I market myself as a loan signing agent?

Here are a few ways to market yourself as a loan signing agent:

  1. Network: Let friends, family members, and acquaintances know you’re a loan signing agent.
  2. Use social media: Maintain a social media presence to expand your network.
  3. Consider ads: Use online advertising to promote your notary business.
  4. Build a website: Create a website to showcase your services and experience.

What is the starting salary as a loan signing agent?

Loan signing agents are typically self-employed, so they don’t receive a salary. Starting out, the amount you can earn as a loan signing agent depends on where you live, your experience, and whether you’re working full-time or part-time. But it’s common for a notary loan signing agent to make between $75 to $200 per appointment. If you have five appointments per week, that’s potentially $19,500 to $52,000 per year.

Bottom line

You can typically become a notary loan signing agent by simply being commissioned as a notary public in your state. But there might be further requirements depending on where you live.

And it’s often recommended that you take additional steps anyway to increase your expertise and credibility. This could include taking a loan signing training course or passing a certification exam.

Of course, that’s just one option when it comes to how to make money. Check out our list of best side hustles for more ways to boost your income in your free time.

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Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.