Got books?

Written by Lynn Nunez on . Posted in Field Services, Mortgage Closing Services, Mortgage Economy and Market

Are your accounting records up to date? Are they balanced? Are they understandable by anyone other than yourself? All of these are good questions to consider, especially when your record keeping is in question. Otherwise how will you know where you stand financially, economically? Accounting, which has been called the “language of business”, measures the results of an organization’s economic activities and conveys this information to a variety of users including investors, creditors, management, and regulators. Did you know, both the words accounting and accountancy were in use in Great Britain by the mid-1800s, and are derived from the words accompting and accountantship used in the 18th century. Yes even back thenuntitled they had accounts to balance. If this all seems like a foreign language to you, you could outsource this area of your business and then use it as a business write-off instead. Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Here is more to ponder and maybe need translation on. For the past two decades, fair value accounting—the practice of measuring assets and liabilities at estimates of their current value—has been on the ascent. This marks a major departure from the centuries-old tradition of keeping books at historical cost. It also has implications across the world of business, because the accounting basis—whether fair value or historical cost—affects investment choices and management decisions, with consequences for aggregate economic activity. SOMETIMES it seems as if our lives are dominated by financial crises and failed reforms. But how much do Americans even understand about finance? Few of us can do basic accounting and fewer still know what a balance sheet is. If we are going to get to the point where we can have a serious debate about financial accountability, we first need to learn some essentials.

What Determines the Value of a Property

Written by Rasheedat Oduola on . Posted in Field Services, Mortgage Closing Services, Mortgage Services and Providers

Sepropert value imagellers often want to know the value of their property on the market. Is it about how much home improvement that has been done or the purchase price of the property. Most sellers think remodeling the house before it is put up for sale alone would help increase its market value.

This is usually not the case as the value placed on a property is much more determined by other factors than remodeling, making home improvements and maintenance.

A great factor that determines the value of a property is the fair market price. The fair market price is the price a buyer is willing to pay for the purchase of the property and the price the seller is willing to accept for the sale of the same property.

Determining the fair market price involves finding the values of properties in the same subdivision which are very similar to the property being put up for sale. This similarity  could be in terms of the property type, condition, number of floors, property square footage etc. These very similar properties are called comparables.
There are some cases where the exact comparables are not found for the property. In such instances, sales of properties which are similar but not exact can also be used as comparables.

In other to be able to compare this comparable sale to the property and bring them to the same level, net adjustments for differences are calculated in terms of the factors that affect the value which could range from difference in square footage , floors, amenities, house condition and view of the property.

Whether you are the buyer or the seller of a property, it is always advisable to seek the services of a professional to help determine the asking or the selling price unless you are versatile in that field and have carried out proper research.

Mistakes That Can Lead To Claims

Written by Debrisha French on . Posted in Mortgage Closing Services

Failing To Require Personal Appearance By A Signer: Experts all agreed that failing to require a signer to physically appear before you is the most common mistake that lands Notaries in serious legal hot water. Notarizing without a signer’s personal appearance is violation of law in every state and territory, and can result in major financial and legal penalties.  The Notary admitted that she had done notarizations in the past where she spoke with signers by telephone to ask if they signed documents. The Notary’s commission was suspended.

Failing To Properly Record Notarial Acts: Too many Notaries fail to keep a record of their notarial acts, especially in states that do not require it. But that’s a problem because a properly maintained journal is your best protection if someone makes a claim against you. In essence, your journal is a record that you did everything right. Without the journal, you could find yourself trying to remember a notarization that might have happened years earlier. In addition, a poorly kept journal record can convince courts that you were sloppy and didn’t take the job seriously.

Failing To Obtain Satisfactory Proof Of Identity From A Signer: “Unless the signer personally appears and presents a valid ID, the Notary just cannot do the notarization. Period.” Busch said. “Otherwise, they will likely end up being sued, since more than likely there is a fraud being perpetrated.” Mistakes

Engaging In The Unauthorized Practice Of Law: While most Notaries would never walk into a courtroom pretending to be a lawyer, many don’t realize something as simple as telling a signer what notarization to choose or answering questions about a document is the unauthorized practice of law, which could lead to a lawsuit and other legal problems for the Notary.  Non-attorney Notaries should never prepare, complete or answer questions about a signer’s documents.  

Business slowing down?

Written by Lynn Nunez on . Posted in Field Services, Mortgage Closing Services, Mortgage Services and Providers

Now that business is slowing down, what do you do? How do you keep moving forward? Do you sit at home and just wait for the business to come to you?

Something you can tackle now with the business slowing is office politics. How things are running in the office, you know the place where your desk is located. No, not the one at home covered with stacks of papers but the one located off site and probably covered in dust. Well if this scenario describes your office, I would suggest beginning there, or maybe having the cleaning staff stop by a day before to get you started.

Now that the desk is cleared up, how are things in the office? Employee reviews up to date? Now would be a good time to catch up and touch base. Are all the departments running smoothly? Now may be a good time to hire new staff and complete training. Have them prepared for when things pick back up. How about a strategizing meeting with the staff to get things started. Marketing ideas, new product ideas or increasing coverage areas. Is the holiday season approaching? How about vacation times? Plan on some training and review of current policies. Look for areas that need improvement and then you should take small, common sense steps daily toward achieving those goals. Don’t try to tackle everything all at once, think small steps.

Woman looks up

Now would also be a good time to review stock. Such as paper stock, pens, ink, coffee and all other items that keep the office running smoothly. Recently a friend of mine told me her office incorporated a lunch service for all staff, maybe this is something to consider or even a potluck once a week would be fun and team building.

What ever you do, do something. That is why you’re here.  

Working from Home, Is it for you?

Written by Lynn Nunez on . Posted in Field Services, Mortgage Closing Services, Notary signings

how-working-from-home-worksWorking from home seems like the ideal scenario, but is it for you? There is more to evaluate when considering making the switch. The change in working environment not only affects you but those who are at home during the day as well. What you think you are saving in gas and commute time can cost you in other areas. Let’s look at some pros and cons.

Extra sleep.
No traffic issues.
No need to pack a lunch.
Dress code casual.
Less time away from home.

Now if you’re a parent, the likelihood that you can sleep in is slim, I still would need to make sure the kids eat, dress and get to school on time. That leads to the traffic issues, you still have to forge through it. Packing a lunch, I would still have to plan ahead to make sure it is easy to put together. The dress code is definitely a plus, unless of course your employer is requesting a live video while working. Let’s look at the cons.
Loss of social interaction.
Too many distractions.
Loss of regimen.
Too much time at home.

Social interaction can go both ways, at first you will find it to be more productive and then after a while you will notice you are more verbal on the phone with customers or after hours when talking to friends you just can’t seem to stay quiet. A quick follow up phone call turned out to be an hour on the line. Or the coffee break with a colleague turns into dinner. Now the distractions, I’m one of those people that can’t sit still when things around me are not tidy, I would continue to lose focus until I get up and straighten up what I didn’t want to do on my off time. I don’t know about you but I get off of work the commute to pick up my kids gives me a chance to change roles. To let go of my work day and turn on mommy mode. Same with the morning ride in, it gives me a chance to transition into work mode.

Too much time at home can go both ways. Your family sees you more, they feel you are involved. Then again you are seeing the same walls and faces for longer periods of time. Any chance you get to get out you will jump on it! Remember why you didn’t want to work in the office anymore?

These are just some things to consider when making the choice to transition.

Need to know…

Written by Lynn Nunez on . Posted in Field Services, Mortgage Closing Services, Notary signings

handcuffed man Some simple mistakes can be misconstrued into big business issues, such as using the correct verbiage or keeping your stamp secure. Some notaries had to learn the hard way. When in doubt always do your research and then do more research. Other times you just have to stand up for the truth to be heard. When advertising your business, whatever the type do your research before committing to a template or specific verbiage. A notary in Arkansas (AR) had to learn the hard way. In the state of AR the Consumer Protection Act requires notaries to advertise in Spanish and English that they are not licensed attorneys. Apparently in many Latin American countries “notario publico” (notary public) is a specially trained lawyer, the misconception is taken as a scheme here in the states. “The suit in Washington County Circuit Court seeks an injunction to make Nimroozi follow the disclosure law. It may seek restitution if it is learned that Nimroozi charged fees for legal advice.” Posted the ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE. In 2008, Sacramento, CA the State Senate Appropriations Committee passed AB 886, a bill that will strengthen notary law and fight real estate fraud. Essentially this bill will has made it easier to investigate unethical and criminal notary practices. In these types of cases, notaries aid and abet fraud by loaning their journal to a non-notary, by notarizing documents without all of the parties present or by failing to properly secure their journal and stamp. Legislators approved a constitutional amendment in 1964 designating notaries public as officers of the state. According to the “Handbook of Maryland Notaries Public,” notaries are “held to the same high standards of public trust as other appointed and elected state officials,” and unlike other state officers, may hold another public office. Since then, notaries have administered oaths and affirmations, both of which are solemn statements of truth made under penalty of perjury.

Set the Date for the Wedding!

Written by Lynn Nunez on . Posted in Mortgage Closing Services, Mortgage Economy and Market, Mortgage Services and Providers, Notary signings

WeddingPlanning Currently, only Florida, South Carolina, Maine and Nevada authorize Notaries to perform weddings as part of their official duties. However, entrepreneurial Notaries in other states are finding innovative ways to add “wedding officiant” to their growing list of client services.

“I sit down with my couples to ask questions, such as how they met and what is most important to them,” says Barrett, who then uses this information to write the couple’s vows and to personalize the ceremony. She then inquires whether they need a certified copy of their wedding license (which California requires if the couple wishes to receive a confidential marriage license), if they’ll be doing a legal name change, or if they’ll require any other documents or notarizations — all of which she can provide.

“These are the last things most couples are thinking about,” says Barrett. Combining her Notary and officiant services allows her to offer clients a customized approach.

“I complete all the paperwork, get their signatures and pop it all in the mail,” says Barrett. “It’s my job to make sure it is done correctly. They trust me to do the job right.”

Notaries interested in becoming wedding officiants should begin by checking state wedding laws. For example, licensing requirements vary greatly from state to state. Contact the county clerk in the counties in which you want to perform weddings for more information. A simple Google search on “How to become ordained” yields numerous links and organizations, but be sure to vet each carefully to find out if they are reputable, what the fees and requirements are, and where, exactly, the ordination is recognized. Some ministries will ordain you for life; others require annual license renewals.

By following Barret’s approach you can be sure the happy couple will contact you when the time comes to buy or refinance their home. So let’s help them set the date!

Expanding your small business

Written by Lynn Nunez on . Posted in Field Services, Mortgage Closing Services, Notary signings, Tax

expand-your-business-with-us_1For those of you who have survived startup and built successful businesses, you may be wondering how to take the next step and grow your business beyond its current status. Don’t let the last recession fool you — now is as good a time as any to expand your business to global markets. Knowing when to expand a business is an important decision. Grow too … Finally, think about what impact a business expansion will have on you personally. When you first started your business, you probably did a lot of research. Is your small business as profitable as it could be? Has business been slow? Hard to keep busy? Struggling to keep active? Have you thought about expanding your coverage area, but the thought of gas prices keeping you close to home? Staying flexible in regards to distance is a great way to remain competitive. I would begin by looking at the statistics of your neighboring cities or counties. Evaluate the population and income levels, the higher either of these the more likelihood the expansion will pay off. You can go even further by looking at the number of available agents in that particular area as well to determine if you are even needed. Begin by contacting your current clients and then think about adding on new ones that service the new area specifically. Furthermore have you thought about adding on new services? As you contact your current clients you can ask them if there are any other services they need filled in your area and the new area you’re considering. It would be easier to start a new service with a current client as you have already built a relationship with them. Your current client may be more inclined to provide you with training you may not otherwise receive from a new client.

Congratulations on taking the next step!!

Be sure to stop back in and let me know how it worked out!!

Deadlines Scaring you?

Written by Lynn Nunez on . Posted in Field Services, Mortgage Closing Services, Notary signings

scheWhy do we stress ourselves out so much – just good old procrastination? Partly. A lot of it is also the logical thought that you want the team to REALLY know the material before completing it, and that takes time, pushing the start of the whole process back for several days. I will go against what might be logical popular opinion here and recommend something else – start earlier in the year and use the individual intense scrutiny that shadowing offers as a rehearsal per se to learn and strengthen yours and their confidence levels before they develop some potentially bad habits in each individual assignment.

Bear with me, though…

I find that when doing a last minute assignment no matter the type are essentially not ready, it becomes obvious in most cases that some people aren’t nearly as prepared as they think they are. The detailed quality control is just too hard to do. The act of planning ahead allows you to “kill two birds with one stone”, in that it’s a very detail-intensive rehearsal or planning criteria as well, working a few extra minutes now, a little at a time over and over until it’s easy to stay ahead. Such as certain documents for a notary assignment. You can create a folder to carry extra acknowledgement pages. Or for an inspector a folder containing signature pages or a blank sample report. Realtors a sample listing to ask all the questions to get it started at any time. Again, I hear you thinking: “Wait a minute, you make your living doing this, you’re just trying to make us spend more money, you vulture!”

Actually, it doesn’t have to cost any more, and theoretically should even SAVE you money in the mix while increasing your outside performance greatly – especially for those of you already working from the road. As having these documents with you, you will not need to return to the office to print a copy or miss a phone call because you just don’t know all the questions you need answered.

Are you protected?

Written by Lynn Nunez on . Posted in Field Services, Mortgage Closing Services, Notary signings

indexIn many states, every Notary must purchase a surety bond in order to protect the public financially from the possibility of that Notary’s future negligent mistakes or intentional misconduct. Up to the dollar amount of the bond, the state-licensed surety will reimburse any person financially harmed by the Notary’s improper actions, if the Notary is unable to do so. However, the Notary is then required by law to pay back the surety any funds it pays out on his or her behalf.
The bond is not insurance for the Notary — it is protection for the public against mistakes and misconduct by the Notary!
Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance: Protecting your personal assets Time and again, blameless Notaries are sued and have to prove that they acted properly — but doing so can be expensive. The Notary’s greatest protection against the financial ravages of a lawsuit is Errors and Omissions Insurance. An E&O policy shields the Notary’s personal assets. If you are ever accused of misconduct your E&O policy will not only provide for your legal defense, but also absorb the cost of any settlements or court-ordered cash damages — up to the limit of the policy.
If an unintentional mistake is made or a false claim is filed against you as a Notary for unintentional “honest” mistakes, it could cost you thousands of dollars to defend yourself in a lawsuit. With Errors & Omissions Insurance you don’t have to worry. Various limits of liability are available to meet your individual needs and your policy:
• Protects you from lawsuits
• Covers the claim, legal defense fees, and court costs up to your policy’s limit
• Doesn’t require repayment of claims
• Ensures the insurance company will provide expert legal defense if needed

There is no deductible, and policies are very affordable, starting at only a few cents a day.