Paid-Off Mortgages Can be Foreclosed on Too!

Written by Elizabeth Lousis on . Posted in Field Services, Home Buyers and Mortgagors

Paid-Off Mortgages Can be Foreclosed on Too!


As you know we are a South Florida based agency. Yes, we have stunning weather… let’s move on, please? Recently on our local new station, it was reported that Safeguard Properties has faced lawsuits in 31 states for “legalized burglary,” basically entry by a lender into a foreclosed or bank owned property.

On this particular news report, a SafeGuard Properties’ local subcontractor entered a Broward County home and changed the locks on a property that was under foreclosure status with the lender. The main problem is it was for the wrong address.

See the news report below.

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SafeGuard is a sizeable corporation in the foreclosure and asset management division of this industry. They subcontract local contractors to inspect properties, change locks, maintain, secure and board up foreclosed properties. When they perform correctly, they actually help to reduce vandalism, trespassers, and preserve vacated properties security and appeal. SafeGuard and companies like them, do play an important and effective role.

The property in question belonged to an elderly couple that was away in New York over the winter. They haven’t had a mortgage for fifteen years! The actual property in default with its lender was several buildings down in the townhouse complex.

When the couple returns, their locks have been changed with an addition of a padlock, their lights are disconnected, there are orange stickers everywhere and they are essentially left feeling violated. When the call the number on one of the many decals they are met with a SafeGuard representative that advises them they safeguarded – or the lack thereof – the wrong property.

After spending a lifetime of ensuring that their bills are met on-time, they are stressing to their community: “We are very much embarrassed by these stickers and I would like our neighbors to know that we’ve done nothing wrong.”

So, for all of you contractors out there (even our own, although foreclosures are not properties we frequent at this time), be sure you are at the right property. Check and double check your addresses and if something seems wrong contact the representative from the agency you are contracted from. And if you are prone to mistakes, hey, even if you’re not, I suggest you invest in Errors and Omissions insurance. Lastly, realize these are people just like you, handle them with as much respect as you are able to provide.    

eSignature, eNotarization, Webcam Notarization, And iClose

Written by Debrisha French on . Posted in Mortgage Closing Services

Electronic signatureBetween the Federal Housing Administration expanding its electronic signature program. iClose, the impact of technology on Notaries has become a hot topic in social media communities. There also is a lot of confusion about electronic notarizations and webcam notarizations. Here are basic definitions of these terms to help clarify the differences between terms and processes.

Electronic Signatures

Any time you make a purchase with a credit card and are asked to sign a digital pad, or type your PIN to get money out of your bank’s ATM machine, you’re using an electronic signature or eSignature. Electronic signatures have become commonplace in the retail world, and they also are becoming commonplace in larger transactions, such making an offer on a home purchase. eSignatures can be made in a number of different ways, but they are considered as legally valid as a signature on a paper document (often called a “wet” signature).

Electronic Notarization

Electronic notarization, or eNotarization, is essentially the same as a paper notarization except the document being notarized is in digital form, and the Notary signs with an electronic signature. Depending upon state law, the information in the Notary’s seal may be placed on the electronic document as a graphic image or other available means. All other elements of a traditional, paper notarization remain, including the requirement for the signer to physically appear before the Notary.

Webcam Notarization

In 2011, Virginia authorized the commonwealth’s Notaries to perform notarizations using video and audio technology (e.g. “webcams”). The document is being notarized electronically, but the webcam element means that the signer does not need to physically appear before the Notary. To date, Virginia is the only state to permit webcam notarizations. In fact a number of states — including California, Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Ohio, Rhode Island and Wisconsin — issued public statements that notarizations using online communication are prohibited and signers are still required to physically appear before Notaries.


iClose is a web-based closing system offered by one settlement services provider. With this system, the borrower physically appears before a Notary to sign a limited power of attorney (LPOA) in paper form. The LPOA allows a representative of the title company or lender to sign the borrower’s mortgage documents. Typically, the borrower will then log onto the iClose system to review and approve the loan documents using an electronic signature. The title company or lender representative signs all paper documents in the closing package, including the Mortgage or Deed of Trust, and a title company or lender Notary notarizes the representative’s signature.

Pictures worth more than words

Written by Shardae Griffin on . Posted in Field Services, Home Buyers and Mortgagors, Mortgage Services and Providers

Do you enjoy taking photos? With today’s technology taking photos has become easier than ever.  You don’t even have to have a camera these days. There’s phones, tablets even watches that have the ability to capture any moment. If you’ve ever thought about the possibility of making money by simply taking photos you might want to consider becoming a field service inspector.

Field service inspectors typically do drive-by inspections.  A drive-by inspection involves you driving by a home or property and taking front exterior images including the house number. The condition of the house is usually notated such as the color, attached garage damaged window, etc.  The time it takes to complete an inspection like this is very minimal.  In most cases you don’t have to even come in contact with the borrower.

Most companies are willing to pay anywhere from $3 to $10 for each property that is photographed. You can make an easy $30-$100 just doing 10 houses a day. In addition to drive-by inspections you may also want to take the time to consider doing interior inspections.  These type of inspections are a little more detailed than the drive-by inspections.

With the interior inspections you are required to go inside vacant homes that have been secured. Your given a key or code to enter the home and your simply taking photos of the inside of the property. 1-2 photos of every room is typically required. You are also notating any damages, flooding or vandalism you may come across.  Some companies may compensate more for these type of inspections due to the detailed photos required.

It’s just that simple. Why not make your pictures worth more than words. There are many other opportunities that you may be able to come across from mortgage companies. All it takes is a click of a button and you are on your way to making extra income. Why not make your pictures worth more than words.

Notary Notice

Written by Shardae Griffin on . Posted in Mortgage Closing Services

With so many notaries that are certified nationwide it may become pretty difficult to standout individually. Even though there may be a vast majority of notaries for clients to choose from there are always ways that you can make yourself noticeable. Many factors play a role for many clients when deciding on hiring a notary.

One of the most important things that standout about a notary is their presentation. You may have a website that details your experience as a notary, you may have created business cards or you may have an ad posted somewhere. Whatever the case may be you want to make sure that the way you present your services shows that you are not only serious about your work but that you are reliable and are knowledgeable.  Remember that clients are taking a risk on you to provide excellent service and you want to be able to assure without question that you can be counted on.

Another way that you may be able to get recognized is by joining groups and professional associations. There are many association such as the NNA that can provide resources and networking opportunities. Many do provide members-only directories that assist in finding work.  Your sure to find an association that fits your needs and expertise by browsing the internet.

In addition to presenting yourself and networking, you may also want to follow up and maintain contact with many companies that you were able to reach out to. This way you are able to create and maintain a relationship.  Sending emails or making a quick phone call not only shows that you are interested but also gives the opportunity for you to remind a company of who you are.   Hopefully one of these suggestions  may have sparked an idea on how to become more noticeable in the notary profession.

Repaying Your Home Equity Loan

Written by Lynn Nunez on . Posted in Home Buyers and Mortgagors, Mortgage Closing Services

Are you prepared for business to pick up again? Your office up to date? Equipment serviced? Printers stocked with ink and paper? Schedule open and car tuned up? As anyone in business for themselves should know, you have to be ready for when the opportunity comes, so if there were any no’s for the previous questions you may want to review it again and make sure this time you finish with all yes’s.
  The “Housing Bubble,” as it was called has now come to an end and people should expect some stiff increases in their loan payments. The impact will be worse for those that have a balloon payment, where they will owe the entire balance in full. Concern over delinquencies has the comptroller’s office pressuring lenders to assess their risk levels and to be proactive about reaching out to their borrowers. Homeowners should review what they owe, what they can afford, what their interest rate will be. You can find out if you don’t already know these answers by contacting your lenders and asking. This gives homeowners the opportunity to review their options and come up with the best avenue for their needs.

Business Graph with arrow and coins showing profits and gains As 2014 progresses we will be hearing a lot about this issue whether from the financial institution viewpoint or from the homeowners. I’m curious to see how this will played out and how the market will be affected yet again. I’m also looking forward to all the new loan closings that will be available nationally.

Do you know what your options are?


This is the opportunity for you, the signing agent to familiarize yourself with any new programs, loan types and interest rates being offered to those in your area. Review your own loan options to get started and branch out from there. As a signing agent you will want to be prepared for all the closing opportunities that will arise and have the common questions already answered and supplies on hand, so as to avoid the last minute research and running around, so make sure you’re ready for all the appointments coming your way.

I know I am.

Will Websites Kill Off Real Estate Brokers?

Written by Christina Green on . Posted in Home Buyers and Mortgagors, Mortgage Economy and Market, Mortgage Services and Providers

imagesZ1FSKFPNOver the last ten years, the Internet has become a huge part of the housing market. A group of websites have been created to help guide consumers through the process of buying a house. The three most popular sites are: Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia.

They generate hundreds of millions in revenue and have helped turn buying a house into a more enjoyable experience. Visiting an overwhelming amount of open houses is no longer necessary. Ninety percent of consumers now start their search on the Web.

It seems similar to the websites that have eliminated travel agents, and reduced the need for classified ads, stock brokers, and car dealers. Surprisingly it hasn’t affected the real estate brokers and their fees remain stable. The majority of buyers and sellers still end up working with real life brokers.

Redfin has been trying to change the buying process and cancel out the necessity of the middleman. When it was founded, ten years ago, almost no one started their home search online. Unlike other real estate websites, Redfin employs its own agents who work directly with buyers and sellers.  They pay their agents with an annual salary, instead of by commissions. They also base bonuses off of customer reviews of their performance.

Redfin has grown more slowly than competitors, Zillow and Trulia, who display listings and other information and then pass customers off to traditional real estate agents, who complete the deal. Both companies may have been inspired by Redfin, but they are very different and more accessible. Zillow and Trulia decided to enable the traditional way of doing business in real estate rather than eliminate it. They left a place in the process for the broker.

It would seem that the relationship between agent and buyer or seller is far from ideal. They are rewarded for encouraging the client to sell quickly and accept bad offers, or, in the case of a buyer’s agent, for letting them pay too much. However, people value the advice and service that agents can provide because they are nervous about the decision.

Regardless of how frustrated consumers are in the buying and selling process, the agent relationship is important to customers. No websites have been able to eliminate the agent.

Notary vs Notary Signing Agent

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

Working at I am asked quite frequently what is the difference between a notary and a notary signing agent, below I have highlighted the differences. The defining factors that differentiate a professional from someone who paid a fee for a stamp is personal attributes and professionalism an individual pertains. </br> </br> Pro_Attire


To the average audience a notary is only verifying the identity of the person signing a document. They verify this by reviewing valid identification. In essence yes that is it, but I feel that explanation falls short of what it encompasses. </br>



Here’s my definition, as structured by the Governor’s Office, State of Florida:

A notary public is a public officer appointed and commissioned by the Governor whose function is to administer oaths; to take acknowledgments of deeds and other instruments; to attest to or certify photocopies of certain documents; and to perform other duties specified by law. A notary public serves as an impartial witness to facilitate the workings of commerce and law by lending credibility to certain sensitive signed documents. When a document is notarized, the public can be assured that its signer is not an impostor and any contracting parties can be assured that the document they have signed – and no other – will have full force and effect.</br>

As for a Notary Signing Agent also referred to as Signing Professionals they have the same functions and permissions as their fellow notaries but have sought and received additional training regarding financial documents. Therefore they are more equipped to provide impartial explanations as to what are the documents borrowers are requested to sign. They have also submitted to a background screening.</br>

As more and more financial institutions are looking to be flexible and convenient for their borrowers they are seeking qualified representation to close out their loans.</br>

Notaries Keeping Busy During The Off Season?

Written by Debrisha French on . Posted in Mortgage Closing Services

fallingmoney10The holidays are finally over! We are slowly getting our finances back in order.  After the holiday season, less people are willing to go through the process of refinancing their homes. With closing costs and numerous other fees, who could blame them?

So how are notaries keeping busy during this horrible off season? I have spoke with many notaries affiliated with our company and was able to get a shed of light on these questions. Most notaries in the off season perform field inspection in their spare time. No matter what time of the year it is, inspections are always being performed. Its also a great way to stay busy during your down time.

I know your probably wondering how could I possibly make any money doing inspections when I get paid way more doing signings?  If you’re looking at the opportunity in numbers then of course there is no logic in completing inspection. However, a Field Agent will tell you its not always about dollar amounts. In this line of work, dollar amounts mean nothing without volume.

If you break it down, the math is quite simple. On a average, a Notary may receive 2-3 signing request on a day if any. Being that this is the off season you will be lucky to get a volume of such a day. On the other hand, an Field Agent will average about 10-20 orders a day. If an agent is located in the states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, or even Florida, their volume would be a lot higher because the market is really good in those areas. Like Notary Closing Agents, Field Agents cover multiple counties which also makes their income margin much higher.

Once the market does pick back up, most Notary Agents continue with the field inspections on the side to keep additional income coming in. In this business there is more than enough volume to share the wealth. With all that being said, what are some other great ways for notaries to stay busy during the off season?

Insider Trading Affecting Our Dear Mortgage Market?

Written by Elizabeth Lousis on . Posted in Mortgage Economy and Market

bidThere has been a lot of speculation regarding the real estate market. The economy as a whole is improving in comparison to the early 00’s. But it’s all essentially theory, backed by trends and hypotheses… which is honestly not as haphazard as I just made it sound.

To build on these claims, Kyle Bass perfectly timed a trade to sell his holdings in Herbalife, a nutritional shake company. Not that I am against good health or thick beverages, but it was actually a sharp move seeing that as of 2014, Herbalife is down 16%. But I digress. In turn Kyle purchased – get this, holdings in real-estate agencies such as the very familiar Nationstar and Altisource.

Nationstar provides residential mortgage loan services, with a portfolio of around 400K loans. Their current trade value is around $44.50 a share. At the time of Bass’ purchase the cost was closer to $34.23 a share. He now owns about 1.5 million shares. You do the math.

So the pundits, gurus, and forces that be, are indicating that this can be considered as a forecasting of pending market change in mortgage industry’s favor. Investors use certain market indicators to make stock related decisions, among the strongest factors used are hedge fund and insider trading. Follow the venture choices of the top investment managers, and should you invest accordingly, studies indicate you will outperform (i.e. be richer than) others.

In the past 6 months there has been no insider sell of any Nationstar holding, but in the past 12 there has been an acquisition. There is an investment saying that is most fitting to this occasion: there are many incentives for an executive to downsize shares of his or her company, but only one, very clear reason why they would initiate a purchase. house

So should we start anticipating an overall upsurge in the real estate industry? Or are these just isolated, random incidences?

Important Steps to Refinancing Your House

Written by Christina Green on . Posted in Home Buyers and Mortgagors, Mortgage Economy and Market


Shop around for the best quote. Shop around for multiple quotes. Don’t just apply to one mortgage company without checking if there are better deals. Shop around to get the best interest rate.  Don’t accept a long escrow with a non-adjustable rate. Mortgage rate are determined by supply and demand, and other factors that change constantly. Don’t settle for the lender’s appraiser. You should have the option to choose your own appraiser, real estate attorney, survey company. Understand your rights to rescind a mortgage. Refinanced mortgages often have a return policy if the borrower changes their mind.