The typical real estate escrow requires the buyer to sign 70 – 120 pages of documents, several of which require notarization. The seller also will have to notarize, at the minimum, the grant deed. Notarization, or the act of an uninvolved witness (the Notary) verifying that the signor (the buyer or seller) is indeed who they say they are, is an essential part of the escrow process. And, if notarization is not properly done, it can cause delays which can impact the closing of the escrow. When it comes to notarizing documents during escrow, clients can choose to go to the escrow office or hire an outside notary.
Option 1: Notarize and sign at the escrow office
Escrow offices all have a notary on staff. Therefore, a common option for notarizing documents is to have the parties go to the escrow office to sign documents. With customer satisfaction as our highest priority, at GOE Escrow we prefer that our clients physically come to our office to sign closing documents. This not only ensures that buyers and sellers feel they are receiving the highest level of service, but also we can personally correct any errors that may have been overlooked by the many parties involved in the transaction as well as answer any questions that may arise.
However, circumstances do not always allow for clients to sign at the escrow office (for example, in the case of an out of town buyer). When this occurs, working with an outside notary is the alternate solution.
Option 2. Notarize and sign with an outside notary
If you are to hire an outside notary, you have two options: A Certified Document Signor or a Mobile Notary.
Both Certified Document Signors and Mobile Notaries are certified by the State of California to verify signatures. However, a Certified Document Signor also undergoes regular continuing education training specific to real estate transactions. They are familiar with the documents that are signed in the transaction. Mobile Notaries are not required to have this specific training and as a result, are not always familiar with the documents that are being signed.
A Certified Document Signor will cost more, but clients should be aware that our most common reason for the delay of a transaction is due to the incorrect signing of closing documents. With the amount of paperwork that needs to be signed and notarized, it is easy to see how someone without the proper training could overlook a detail here or there. As a result, Certified Document Signors are our preferred option if the client is not able to sign in person at the escrow office. That said, it is possible to have an accurate and successful closing with a mobile notary. The choice is really up to the client and will be impacted by many factors specific to the transaction.
So when choosing, ask yourself what is more valuable in a real estate transaction, your time or your money? If time is not of paramount concern, a mobile notary may be a great choice for you. If it is imperative you close on time, your risk of signing issues will decrease by going with a certified document signor. And, if you have the ability to sign at your escrow office, you will run the lowest risk of delays.
Interested in what you are reading? To automatically receive these Escrow Tips in your email box, subscribe to these articles at the top right corner of this site (Glen Oaks Escrow) in the box titled “Subscribe via Email”.