Signing with a mobile notary

Should you sign with a mobile notary - image of people, paperwork, penWhen it’s time for your final document signing prior to the close of escrow or refinance, is signing with a mobile notary better, or should you do it at the title company? These aren’t papers that you can DocuSign – they must be done in person.

What is a mobile notary?

A notary, or notary public, is someone who can check your identification and verify that you are who you say you are. A mobile notary public, usually called a mobile notary, is someone who travels. They come to you.

Quick summary

  • You often have a choice about signing with a mobile notary,  or signing at the title company.
  • Be aware that in most cases you will pay a little more in closing costs if you elect to sign remotely.
  • Some lenders and title companies may nudge you to using an out of office signing and may have built that fee into their closing cost estimates for you, but it is optional, not mandatory!
  • Even if you sign at the office, you may not get the escrow officer but still have a notary and still have an extra charge. Or just a higher fee than at other title companies for this service. Different title companies have different fees and policies.
  • Best bet is to call the title company and ask if the fee will be less if you sign at their office.

During most of Covid, home buyers and sellers did not have a choice about where to do what we call a signoff: title companies did not allow signings in their office for most of the pandemic. Instead, buyers, sellers, and refinancing home owners would meet with a notary, often outdoors, to sign documents prior to the close of escrow or completion of the refi.

At the beginning of the pandemic, and for about the first 18 months or so, Realtors were not permitted to attend the signoff. We are now, though.

Fewer restrictions, title company office signing is now permitted

Now that things are opening up, consumers have the ability to sign at the title company in nearly all cases. A mobile notary remains an option, and may be preferable for you, but make sure that you are informed so that you are making a choice with all the factors on the table. (As of October 2022, if the Covid pandemic worsens again, this could change.)
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What happens at the sign off? Is it the same as closing?

What happens at signoffThe sign off is an appointment in which home buyers and sellers sign the final papers which will lead to closing a few days later.  (In some states, the closing happens when all parties sign, and both sellers and buyers meet at the same time for the official paperwork.  Not so here in Silicon Valley, though.)  Usually the appointment takes place at the title company which is also handling the escrow – that is the norm in northern California.  Sometimes either buyers or sellers cannot be available during regular business hours.  In that case, they have an option of paying for a mobile notary to do the signing at their home or some other convenient location.

The closing, or close of escrow, takes place when the deed is recorded with the county at the County Recorder’s Office.  Usually each title company will send one person to record all of the deeds scheduled to close that day for that firm.    Once a particular property has been recorded, we say “it is on record”.  Someone from the title company will call or email the clients or the real estate agents (or both) to confirm that it’s on record.  For short, they often say “we have confirmation” – meaning that they’ve been told that the deed was recorded.  The property transfer happens when the deed is recorded – not when the papers are signed.

Related reading:

Who should be at the sign off or closing in Silicon Valley?

What is escrow?