What is a Minnesota Closing Agent?
Minnesota is one of several states that requires closers to be licensed.
Why? Because closers have access to private information given by consumers to lenders to obtain a mortgage (addresses, Dates of Birth, SSNs, income, assets, etc.) and in many cases, closers deposit funds from others into an account they control, and disburse money to others, in which case they have access to huge amounts of money. The state is doing due diligence to assure the public is protected by licensing Closing Agents of good character and knowing where the funds are located for purposes of audit..
IMPORTANT TIP: Many organizations offer training programs that do NOT meet the requirements of the state for Pre-license Education. There is potentially a $10,000 fine per transaction for notarizing a real estate document without the state required closing agent license. So check that the course meets state standards before you spend your money!
What is a Signing Agent?
“Signing agent” is a common term used for people hired to notarize loan documents. Most signing agent courses tell you that you are only there to witness to signatures, no need to understand the documents. Taking a course for a “signing agent” does not qualify or authorize you to notarize real estate or mortgage documents in Minnesota. You must have a Minnesota Closing Agent License.. There are serious penalties for not having the Closing Agent License – up to $10,000 per transaction. Closers are the important final link between the lender and the consumer when completing the loan transaction. The Closing Agent is often hired as an independent contractor to ensure that real estate loan documents are properly explained, signed by the borrower, notarized, and returned to the lender on time. I like to say, Print, Explain, Sign and “Return to Lender.” As independent contractors, Closing Agents work for many different parties.
What is the Difference between a Closing Agent and a Signing Agent?
A Closing Agent is more knowledgeable, and shoulders more responsibility than a typical signing agent, who simply notarizes signatures. A Closing Agent is licensed to understand the process and explain documents. That does not mean giving legal advice, but it does mean can and are expected to answer basic questions, such as defining terms. For example, if a person asks if the mortgage they are signing can be assumed by another person, the closer could point out the “acceleration clause,” which states the loan could be called immediately due and payable if the borrower transfers the property without the lender’s written consent. So, no advice, just definitions. If they need further advice, have them talk with the lender.
Why Become a Closer/Signing Agent?
1. There’s a Big Need for Closers – Now!
- Companies are looking for closers, right now, to help notarize loan documents. With very low lowest interest rates, the public is either refinancing for lower payments, or borrowing to buy their dream home. With low rates, they can afford more.
- Online lenders have become commonplace. Quicken Loans, Lending Tree, Rocket Mortgage and others don’t have bricks and mortar, so there are no closers on staff, they hire independent contractors to assist consumers with the loan process.
- On top of that, Covid-19 has closed many offices, or cut down the volume of closings they handle in a day, so some of the work is being contracted out to Independent Closers, who go to people’s homes to notarize the documents.
- Law firms, Title Companies and Lenders also hire Closers on a contract basis to help, as needed, as most closings occur on the 15th of the month, or month end when leases come up.
2. You are Helping People!
Closers generally have a happy job. The people we deal with have made big decisions in their lives. They are either purchasing a new home – perhaps going to a bigger home to meet the needs of a growing family, or downsizing to something more manageable for retirement. All good decisions for them. Or, if they are refinancing, they’re getting a lower rate (and we all like lower payments.) Or perhaps they’re taking cash out for a dream – finally remodeling that kitchen, or sending a child off to school. So signing those lender documents is accomplishing a good thing in their lives.
3. You can be your own Boss and Set your Own Hours
You can work from home and be your own boss, not tied to a chair from 8-5. Set your own hours, so if you have children, you can work around their schedules and make that dance recital or hockey game, make family events.
4. You can Earn Good Money, Full-time or Part-time
You can earn great money. As a licensed closer, you can make $75 or more at a single loan closing and can work as much or little as you please. You can make that money almost immediately upon starting the job. And you can try it out as a part-time job to see if it works for you.
5. You Don’t Need Prior Experience
You don’t need prior experience, or a college degree. You do need to be 18 years old, commissioned by the Secretary of State as a Notary Public, and licensed by the state as a Closing Agent.
6. Startup Costs are Negligible
Most of the start-up fees are one-time charges. The Notary Commission, the Closer License Application, and the Pre-license Education requirements are one-time costs. Other than that, basic office equipment – phone, computer, printer, paper, etc.
7. How do I develop a closing agent business?
We have a new class called the Minnesota Closing Academy that gives the ins and outs of the business. How to get started in the business; What equipment do I need; What is an Independent Contractor; What are clients looking for; what business records do I need to keep; and much, much more.