Presenting Loan Documents – Order of Importance

When a notary signing agent receives the loan documents for a closing, the documents are not necessarily in the order in which they should be presented to the borrower.

One might think that it doesn’t matter. Just start from the top of the stack of documents and work your way down. Just get them signed. That’s the objective. Right?

Not necessarily.

One of the things I do as a notary signing agent is try to put myself in the position of the borrower. When I’m presenting the documents, I try to imagine which documents I would want to see first. What would be most important to me. So I take certain documents and put them at the top of the stack. (I’ll use a yellow sheet of paper as a bookmark so I know where to put it back when I send the documents back to the title company.)

The very first document that I present to the borrower is the HUD Settlement Statement. I have actually received a set of documents in which it was placed at the very bottom. It doesn’t matter. It goes to the top. That document shows all of the important numbers, so the borrower shouldn’t be kept in suspense. It’s also a document that they are entitled to see one business day before the closing. That rarely happens. So the least the signing agent can do is show the borrower the Settlement Statement as soon as possible.

The next document that I go over is the Right to Cancel (if there is one for that particular transaction). I do this for a couple of reasons. It has been my experience that the borrower is more at ease with signing the documents if they know that they have that right. There’s no point in pretending that they don’t have a right to cancel by placing the document at the bottom of the stack. Don’t worry. The borrower is not going to cancel the loan, just because you showed them that document. If they cancel, it’s because they changed their mind and decided they didn’t want the loan.

Another reason that it’s one of the first documents that I go over is because, they will be getting 2 copies of it to keep. I place those copies in the envelope with the rest of the borrower’s copies. That way the envelope is sealed and out of the way. I normally don’t have to open it back up for the remainder of the closing. I want the flow of documents to go as smoothly as possible. The fewer the interruptions, the better.

There are some other key documents that I want to show the borrower. They are curious to know what their interest rate will be, what their payments will be, if they have an adjustable rate, a prepayment penalty, and a few other key terms of the loan. If these documents are not already at the top of the stack, then I will present the Note and Truth in Lending. I put a tab on the payment coupon because it shows the actual payment amount, when it’s due, and where to send the payment.

There are several other documents that I will put a tab on. I try to anticipate what questions the borrower will have. So I want to be able to put my finger on that document. It doesn’t have to get signed right away. Just let them see it, then put it back in the stack. Anything to satisfy the borrower’s curiosity and give them peace of mind.

The main thing is that, the order in which the documents were received by the notary signing agent is not necessarily the order in which they should be presented. And changing the order can put the borrower at ease and make the closing go smoothly.

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