Category: Mobile Notaries News and Advice

In Person Notaries Still in High Demand

In person notaries are still in high demand, as demand exceeds supply months into the pandemic.

It may be a surprising find as the pandemic seemed to indicate a light speed move to online signings. But, the opposite has happened.

As in person notaries have declined, both mobile and static, the demand for them has increased as the housing market has come back to life.

The Big Banks Control Online Signings

The banks are known to be conservative and slow moving. I mean, who still uses faxes?

But, at the beginning of the year it seemed the move towards remote online notarizations was gaining steam. Steam that would change the industry.

Steam that might just replace in person notaries with online ones.

And while it seemed the pandemic would only accelerate that, it has actually slowed the process down, leaving high demand for in person notaries.

Why?

As the market rebounds from COVID-19 closures, one symptom of this inertia has emerged: lenders are being flooded with a rising volume of mortgage applications, and notary availability is at an all-time low.

National Mortgage News

A Rapidly Changing Marketplace

Let’s start by looking at work from

First the banks had to switch to work from home. This wasn’t an easy process, as larger banks had hundreds of thousands of employees to move. It was not easy. They had to do things like:

  • Get supplies
  • Train employees
  • Expand IT operations and invest huge amounts in new equipment
  • Adapt their culture to the new situation
  • Find and perfect new technology use for meetings
  • Route phone lines all over the place
  • Ensure everyone had consistent internet access

Work from home was made to sound easy, but the effort involved was massive. Compounding that, with everyone working from home, as well as virtual schooling, many areas just did not have the internet backbone to handle it.

That seems to have leveled off now, but large ISPs took months investing in new infrastructure to meet the heightened demand.

A Change in Focus

These times have caused the banks to repeatedly have to change focus.

A great example are PPP loans.

With a housing slowdown, why not start making new government backed loans? It’s a no brainer.

But, there is always a downside.

Making the loans is one thing. Keeping up with every detail, not so easy. Of interest is the myriad of tax rules that have to be met. But, the loans had to be made quickly, so it created its own issues.

Mortgage professionals aren’t exactly IRS agents, so the training is intensive, and even then, in some cases, a mountain too high to climb in such a short time.

Collections Behind the Eight Ball

Along with the downturn obviously came a dent in revenue stream. From people who were unable to pay, people who were able to defer payments or interest, as well as a few who took advantage of the situation.

As the moratoriums expire the big banks have also started to shift to collections and foreclosures. There is no need to go into depth here, but the same pattern applies.

  • More shifting of personnel
  • More training, online (not ideal for many)
  • A changing focus of company divisions.

Why Does this Increase Demand for In Person Notaries?

Simply put, most of the large banks have their hands full. And that has increased demand for in person notaries at a time when supply has waned as many notaries have shunned signings.

Notaries are in high demand but short supply. Data from April 2020, notaries not accepting signings for 15 or more days increased 1,225% compared to April 2019.

National Mortgage News

Efforts to look at online signings have dissipated as that attention has had to be focused into other areas.

It was already hard to look at online closings with the mish-mash of rules, both permanent and temporary, the massive amount of training and implementation into current processes.

And now the market has been focused into other areas.

In the long term, online closings are still inevitable in many markets. But, for the foreseeable future, the demand for in person notaries looks to remain quite healthy.

Are Wet Signings Still Part of Our Future?

As the world quickly pivots to online notaries, how does this affect traditional Wet Signings?

Called wet signings by many banks, it means the notary and signer(s) sign must both be present, and must use a pen.

This has origins all the way back to the ancient middle east. They were literally wet signings. As they wrote on clay tablets, then they had to dry them.

We’ve had extensive talks about creating an article of states. But, there are too many rules that are moving too quickly, it would be difficult to disseminate the information accurately.

It would be advisable to find the new or temporary rules for your state.

So, why the article will focus on the present and future, you need to confirm any specifics where you perform signings.

Online Notarizations Rise

You’ve seen the media. We’ve seen the media. But, does the hype reflect reality?

Not quite yet.

While online notaries will be used more frequently in the future, that does not mean there won’t be a rocky road to get us there.

There are a ton of rules in recent months. Most of these are only temporary, but could set the stage for adoption of those rules.

The problem is that the hastily written rules are not congruent. Most require a lot of red tape, which needs to be made on a state by state by state basis.

The more you look into it, the more confusing it gets.

Wet Signings Still Rule the Mortgage Industry

While a very small portion of loans have been done remotely, in person wet signings are still required by most lenders and underwriters.

While you think that might make them go crazy, the fact is they face the same maze of regulations (especially temporary ones) that we do as notaries or signing companies.

It might be better to say they are dipping their toes in the water.

Realize the most prominent lenders in the country might have tens of thousands of employees working for them.

The fact is, at the end of the day, they have to pull all of those people off of the floor, train them for 50 different states (several are similar), some only temporary.

Monoliths take a long time to move.

We have a friend that works at one of the most prominent lenders in the nation. Between COVID, working from home, and the difficulty in enabling online closings, RON has fallen on the list of priorities for many lenders.

Some Signings Will Still Require They be Wet

At the end of the day, it is unlikely all signings will be remote.

We already know about attorney states and a number of other signings, like debt consolidation. But, it is possible, that this will drive many of the corner stores that offer notary services to stop.

Unless states raise the rates for these types of signings, it is unlikely they’ll be able to justify the cost to them.

The choice then will be an online notary, or a mobile one. Technology could be difficult for some signers. At the end of the day, if you like your computer, and don’t need a new one, what would you do?

And what about the people, who do exist, that do not have easy access to the internet?

Will States Get in The Way?

Who doesn’t love bureaucracy?

We’ve seen several states adopt very similar statutes. But, we still might see the wild west unfold.

Right now, states need money. Badly. And they will need it for years to come.

But, where are they going to get it?

It won’t erase any deficits, but any money will do right now for states. It is probably insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it still is money for a state that is broke.

We are quite likely to see states adopt rules, some designed to keep the money in that state.

For example, let’s say a state called New Iowa, decides they want a bigger share of the pie. So New Iowa decided they will allow remote signings, as long as the notary is located in that state.

But now, New Vermont thinks they are being hoodwinked. They have notaries, too. And New Iowa is taking away work from them, and tax revenues, from the people of New Vermont.

See how easily this could happen?

Live in the Present, Plan for the Future

Right now everyone’s world is still out of whack. The biggest holiday on our calendar approaches. And millions of us will forgo cookouts and fireworks because of it.

But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It may be a new world, but it will be our new world. The industry will change, but it is always changing. The sun will still rise in the east and set in the west.

We either embrace change and prepare, or we get left in the dust.

Are we at a Point where the Sunshine Begins?

As more parts of the country begin returning to work, and people beyond notaries return to normal life, we hope we are starting to see the Sunshine again.

2020 has been a really tough year for just about everyone, businesses have been shut down for a long time and many people are regaining confidence in our ability to finally move past this pandemic.

Beyond that, we’ve all seen the news, and probably too many social media videos. We’ve found almost every bit of it sad, but we’ve also seen a lot of signs of hope, and we know that we will become a better nation because of it.

Back to Buying Houses

Across the country we saw home sales take a hit, though refinances made up some slack because of extremely low interest rates. But, signs are beginning to show that people are starting to buy houses again.

Home sales in Houston have risen dramatically recently. In some places, we are talking a 50% increase over last year. Reports from Arizona and North Carolina are promising.

Now, we know this is not true in a lot of the country yet, but as buyers regain the confidence to look at houses, home sales will bounce back.

One thing we’ve seen so far, is that not much has happened to change peoples’ minds if they wanted to purchase a home, but the timeline of that purchase has surely changed.

Back to Business, Even at a Distance

As more people return to normalcy, the services they need will also return to normalcy.

For some things, there might even be a backlog.

Of particular note are loans. Many lenders have delayed payments, waived interest accrual, or both. Some landlords have delayed payments.

While the politicians in Washington try to decide what to do with all of this, many will probably get stuck in the middle. Depending on how that pans out, it may increase the need for notaries to finalize the new deal, or by people needing to find debt consolidation.

On the flip side, some lenders are moving back from some industries. For example, Wells Fargo has announced that they are almost completely shutting down car loans.

Sunshine Notaries are the Greatest Notaries

Throughout this all, you have shown us that we have the best and most reliable notaries in the nation, and we thank you greatly for that.

You have not only stepped up for your business, but for ours as well. Not only we thank you for that, but all of our employees that provide services for you and our clients, as well.

As a team, we could have folded. But, your efforts in going above and beyond the call of duty has shown us just how resilient you are.

If you don’t often speak to others in the industry, you do not realize the level of reliability and professionalism notaries that work with Sunshine have shown.

We’ve heard horror story after horror story from others in the industry on the unreliability of their notary partners.

But, we have to tell you. When those same people ask us about the horrors we’ve seen, we can proudly say that our notaries have pulled through in every way.

And then we give them our card and tell them if they want to work with the most professional and reliable notaries, they know who to call.

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The Pandemic and the Notary Swimming in the Storm

The Notary and the COVID Pandemic, seems like the nightmare that is never going it end.

Can you believe we’ve been at this for two months already?

And while we hope that the end of the tunnel is in sight, the fact is we are still a small fish in a large ocean, and hurricane season has already started (it really has).

Notary Provides Consumer Friendly Services

How to provide a safe service, one that the consumer feels safe, is still proving both difficult and rapidly changing.

We can look to our own industry, while looking at other industries to see what may work.

Bringing some plexiglass with you to signings probably isn’t the best way to go. Curbside service would be great, but impracticable as well. But, looking at industries are there any things that may work for notaries?

Potential Notary Safety Measures

Can we learn something from other industries?

  1. Wearing a mask and gloves has pretty much been the law of the land, at least the mask. It is one of the easiest way to significantly assure consumer safety.
  2. We know it is not possible for every signing, but if you could have one outdoors, it is another thing that will most likely make the signer more at ease. Air circulates more easily outside. And curbside pickups and outdoor dining (where it has been allowed) both have been seen to boost consumer confidence.
  3. Sit as far away as possible. Social distancing is causing a lot of commotion, so do whatever you can to do so. Even if that means moving some to alleviate any concerns, as long as you do not think it will allow any errors or falsehoods in the notarization process.
  4. We know that online notaries are becoming a thing. Industry, which is using the pandemic to push forward online closings, may become a more significant part of our future. So, setting up an area in the office that is good for operations might not be a bad idea. Just don’t let the camera aim where people might see your family. (the recent viral video is hilarious)
  5. Fake it Until You Make It – Look and sound like someone who is confident in the measures you have taken. That confidence wears off on everyone in the room. If you look and act like the situation is in control, so will others.
  6. If you take a signing, do it. Unless the situation is bad, you need to do what you have to do. Once you accept a job, you need to do the job. Unless the situation at the job is bad. We heard a recent story where a closing had to be done four times. The first three notaries left, while the fourth notary closed the deal. Do you think the company will hire the first three notaries again? Unless there is a real good reason, probably with photos, they aren’t calling you again.

What Not to Do

There are also some things you should not do.

Coronavirus Motorcycle Helmet

Credit: The Sun

It’s halloween in April! No one around you will ever miss it.

But, while highly successful at social distancing, we are not sure the coronavirus helmet would go over too well with clients.

The Social Distancing Hula Hoop

Credit: Denver Post

We’re sure we aren’t the only ones who have seen a variation of the social distancing hula hoop.

If it is bad etiquette to wear something in public, it is probably a bad idea to use in your daily routine. We’d pay money if someone could actually hula hoop with one while walking down the street.

Norton Virus Protection

Bad British Mask Ideas
Credit: Metro UK

We wish the guy wearing a Norton Anti Virus was the only thing wrong here, as it is hilarious.

But, we’d advise going places with upside down bags on your head or a giant pet food container. Although we do appreciate the effort.

Back to Reality for Notaries

As the days of the pandemic move on, as more businesses start to open up, and as more business is done, the demand for notaries will rise with it.

While some people are more lax, others are going to be very wary long into the future. So planning a way forward for our businesses is only prudent.

We’ve hopefully given you a couple of decent ideas, and definitely showed you some of the wrong ways to do things.

But, we will close as we always do. Business is opening up in places around the country, which will mean more activity, so be safe and be successful.

This is part five of our series on Notaries and the Coronavirus. Here are some links to other articles.

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Oklahoma, COVID, the Election and Notaries

Spurred in some part by COVID, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that absentee ballots no longer have to be notarized.

It was spurred by the League of Women Voters, as well as medical advocacy groups and at risk people. Essentially, they argued that the notary requirement should be removed, as some voters will be unwilling to go to the polls due to the pandemic, as well as marginalized communities, who do not have easy access to notary services.

Under Penalty of Perjury

The response from the courts was to remove the notary requirement and allow individuals to sign their absentee ballots under penalty of perjury.

“Respondent is barred from issuing ballot forms, instructions, and material suggesting notarization and/or a notarized affidavit form is the only means through which the requisite affidavit for absentee voting may be accomplished,” the order said.

Tulsa World

Proponents say that it is removing an obstacle for voting, especially among seniors and medically compromised voters.

The vote from the court was 6-3.

The Argument Against the Lawsuit

Three judges dissented from the decision. They wrote two separate dissents.

Oklahoma passed a voting law in 2002. Under that law, they gave absentee ballots an exception to the rest of the law.

The court thought otherwise.

The argument against focused on proper channels for governing. That the court does not make the laws, the legislature does.

Justice M. John Kane IV dissented, writing “the issues stand presented to the wrong branch of government.” He was joined by Justice James Winchester. Justice Dustin Rowe wrote a separate dissent.

Courthouse News Service

The dissenting opinions said it would open the voting to more fraud, as in person voters are required to present a valid ID.

“Considering the history of voter fraud, the specifics of our absentee voter process and recent legislative history, I agree with the respondent that it would be absurd to now open the gates and provide for no verification for absentee ballots but still require in-person voters to provide a valid I.D.”

Non Doc

The Oklahoma Attorney General is now reviewing the ruling.

Outlook for Oklahoma Notaries, and other Notaries as Well

The game changes, but the wheel moves on.

The Oklahoma Primary is scheduled for June 30th. August 25th is the runoff primary, while the general election is on November 3rd.

For business, it will eliminate these signings. Since many absentee voters vote from outside their jurisdiction or in other countries, like our military, we’re not sure it creates a significant impact on the industry.

We would advise you to stay up to date on future actions. Or, better yet, just wait until we write about it.

We hope you all can stay busy and stay safe.

This is part four of our series on the coronavirus and the wider effects it has on our industry. It is amazing how quickly things have changed.

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