Sunday, January 30, 2011

NASS Releases A Summary Of Key Notary Issues

The National Association of Secretaries of State released its report summarizing state notarization policies in key areas.  Let's call it the 2011 notary state of the union report.  The report covers 4 key issues:

Basic Notary Practices (which covers the general functions of a notary, including acknowledgments, jurats, and in some cases certification of true copies)
State Commission and Regulation of Notaries (including how to become a notary in each state and seal requirements)
Electronic Notarization (including which states allow e-notarization). 
Recognition of Out of State Notarizations (including a discussion of the much talked about and blown out of proportion Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act) 

You can download the PDF report from  I can also send a copy to anyone who requests it.  Email me at

Monday, January 24, 2011

How To Get A Mortgage In 2011

From 10 tips to snag a mortgage in 2011

1. Have the right credit score (740 or higher gets you the best deal)
2. Protect & preserve your credit (multiple credit inquiries within a few weeks of each other will only count as one inquiry)
3. Shop around (compare rate, fees, points, terms)
4. Know your borrowing limit (payments of no more than 28 - 30% of your gross monthly income)
5. Don't reset your refi calendar to 30 years (amortize the new loan for the remaining period of the old loan)
6. Consider a no closing cost refi (but understand you may end up with a slightly higher rate)
7. Small down payment? See the feds(FHA loans require less down)
8. Small loan? Act Early (the rules are changing April 1st and loan officers might not want to spend time on a smaller loan)
9. Make an extra payment any time of year (pay your loan off early)
10. Behind on your payment? See a counselor (you're more likely to keep your home and qualify for a loan mod if you receive certified foreclosure counseling) 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Michigan Running Out Of Home Buyers

The 2nd highest unemployment in the country.  The 9th worst vacancy rate.  The worst population decline in the last 5 years.  According to The Wall Street News, those combined factors put Michigan number one on the list of states running out of home buyers.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Notarizing By Video?

There's been quite an uproar over the last few days about notarizing by video.  First, a company called Notary Now popped up on everyone's radar.  The company claims to offer video notarization.  You upload your ID and then the company uses online video technology to witness the signature of the individual.  Notary Rotary has been buzzing about it, as has the Secretary of State notary administrators.  And now the state of Virginia is consider a bill to allow similar video notarization.

The pitfalls are numerous.  The uploaded ID can be forged or altered.  Directly viewing an ID is paramount to fraud prevention and identity theft.  The signer could be coerced or under duress by someone off camera.  But the biggest problem I see with all of this is that witnessing a signature by video does not, in my opinion, meet the standard of personal appearance.  In an age of increased fraud, identity theft, and robo-signings, the LAST thing we should be doing is making it easier to perpetrate a fraud.  There seems to be a unanimous thumbs down from notaries, secretaries of state, and the NNA.  

Say no to video notarization.  To vote on the two Virginia bills, you can go here & here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chalk One Up For The Little Guy

In a ruling with major national implications, the Massachusetts Supreme court voided the foreclosure of two homes by Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank after the banks were unable to provide proof that they held the mortgages at the time of the seizure.  Foreclosures without proper documentation have been a hot topic, with other cases pending and all 50 state attorneys generals examining the issue.  The problem occurs when a mortgage is sold or transferred to another servicer without sending or transferring the corresponding mortgage documents. 

Justice Ralph Gants wrote that Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp "failed to make the required showing that they were the holders of the mortgages at the time of foreclosure."  And Justice Robert Cordy condemned "the utter carelessness" that the banks showed in attempting to document their right to the properties.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Banks And Politics

Just in case you didn't know how much banks and politics are forever intertwined: Obama names former bank executive William Daley as his new Chief of Staff

Home Trends For 2011

From MSN Real Estate - Home Trends For 2011

1. Smaller homes that 'live' the same - modest homes with smaller rooms

2. The old front porch, revisited - creating a sense of community

3. A ‘greener’ home - energy efficiency is the trend

4. No 'upstairs, downstairs' drama - single story homes easier for aging baby boomers

5. The downscaled kitchen and bath - functionality and practicality are the rules

6. A home that serves you well - value and efficient features

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bank of America - Wikileaks Next Target?

Is Wikileaks taking aim at Bank of America?  It sure looks that way.  On Nov. 29, WikiLeaks director, the now infamous Julian Assange, announced that he was ready to “take down” a major American bank and reveal an “ecosystem of corruption” with a cache of data from an executive’s hard drive.  Assange plans on releasing the information sometime early this year.  Though never specifically naming B. of A., a year earlier Assange disclosed that Wikileaks had obtained the hard drive of a Bank of America executive containing five gigabytes of data (equal to approximately 200,000 pages of text) and was evaluating how to present it.

Since the Nov. 29th statement, Bank of America has been conducting extensive internal audits to determine what Assange might have on them.  B. of A. claims that to date, their internal audit has revealed no evidence that Assange might have one of their hard drives.  They've made no comment on what else their audit has or has not discovered. 

Stay tuned...