Today we’d like to introduce you to Chelsea Addison.
Chelsea, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was an Escrow Officer at Stewart Title and doing great, I loved what I was doing but felt like my life was passing me by. I remember sitting in my office, looking out the window and thinking “there has to be a better way, but what”? Escrow was “in my blood” and while I wanted more control over my life and my income, I couldn’t think of another career that would enable me to pursue my dreams while earning a great income. One day, in 2007, I turned on the news and was stunned when the reporter spoke the words that would forever change my life – “title companies are closing 15 offices throughout the valley”. My jaw dropped, I instantly felt sick to my stomach, my chest tightened and I collapsed onto the bed. I had just started working at Stewart Title after having been with Fidelity National Title for over 10 years and didn’t have the seniority that I had at FNF. I knew what that meant, I was going to be let go. Within 3 days I was called into HR where I was given the bad news, due to market conditions they had to cut back on staff. I begged for my job, I was willing to take any position no matter which department or what it was but the answer was as I suspected, they were unable to keep me on. Crushed, in tears and afraid I packed up my desk and slowly drove home. What was I going to do? The chatter in the marketplace was that if someone had been in the real estate industry it was going to be very difficult to find a new job because employers knew that we had been paid very well and wouldn’t be satisfied with a $12 to $14 an hour job. Unemployment became my income and cutting back on everything I possibly could just to be able to pay rent and basic necessities became my new life. I had to rent a room and nearly lost my car. Everything I owned was crammed into my room and a small section of the garage. Talk about struggling! Eventually, through an employment agency, I was able to get a receptionist job at an escrow company. What a crush to my ego but at least I had a job in the industry that I loved. I started noticing people that would come into the office, go into the conference room, meet with buyers/ borrowers/sellers, sign their documents and then leave. But then they would come back and do it again multiple times. When I saw one of them come in and pick up a stack of checks I became very curious and needed answers. Who in the world were these people? After observing this for several days I finally asked one of them who he was and what was he doing? He told me that he was a Mobile Notary Loan Signing Agent. A what? I had never heard of this and asked for an explanation. When he told me that he helped people sign their mortgage documents, either at the title company or at their home, I about fell out of my chair with excitement. This was perfect for me! He told me what I needed to do to get started and as soon as work was done for the day, I rushed back to my rented room and started the paperwork. I had to max out the few credit cards I had left and borrow money from my mom to pay for everything I needed to start my new business. As soon as I received my certification and was given the green light, I took off like a race horse at the Kentucky Derby and began marketing myself to every escrow/title company in town. I quickly began working and before I knew it, my calendar was full and the checks started rolling in. I was extremely happy and couldn’t believe my luck! I was utilizing the skills I had gained while working at the title company and finally had control over my life and my income. The harder I worked the more I made and now I no longer dread Mondays. It’s been nearly 7 years since I started my new business, I’ve never looked back and I’ve never regretted the decision. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. My dreams have finally come true and now I’m creating new ones.
Has it been a smooth road?
There are always struggles and uncertainties when starting a new business. In my case, the first 6 weeks were the hardest. I had to wait for files to fund before I would be paid; sometimes it was within two days and sometimes it was over a week depending on the funding date. When a loan canceled, I didn’t get paid. It didn’t happen very often, but the uncertainty was scary and can still happen today. I had to buy a new dual tray laser printer, toner, letter and legal-size paper, business cards, office supplies, gas for the car and I didn’t have a steady source of income other than the files that I signed. I was anxious and had a hard time sleeping. I cut back some more and found more creative was to save money on the supplies that I needed. My mom helped in any way that she could but she was on a fixed income and could only do so much. I cried a lot. I felt scared and alone. I didn’t have a boyfriend or husband so there wasn’t a second income to pick up the slack. But I pushed forward and didn’t give up. Failure was not an option. The thought of going back into corporate America was a driving force and kept me motivated each hour of every day.
One aspect of this business is the uncertainty of when I’ll work. I still have to wait to be paid for the majority of the signings that I complete. The contract that I have with a large percentage of the companies that I work with don’t pay their invoices for upwards of 30-45 days. My work hours are unpredictable which makes it difficult to have a personal or social life. Quite often I work 16 – 18 hour days, 6-7 days a week. I make myself available to my clients regardless of the time of day. I’m “on call”, never knowing when I’ll need to dart out the door. I’m constantly driving and rarely make plans that can’t easily be changed or canceled. I eat on the run and, I’m embarrassed to say it but, I know where some of the best fast food places are. I keep extra napkins in the glove box for the inevitable spill from my food or drink. One aspect of my life that’s made it possible for me to be flexible is that I don’t have small children. Being single has enabled me to put blinders on and be laser focused. It hasn’t been easy to get to where I am, in fact it’s been hard. I constantly worry about the real estate market conditions. There are slow times of the month that cause me to panic worried that my phone wont ring again, but it does, sometimes too much to the point that I have to turn down business. I don’t cry as often as I did in the beginning, but sometimes the little fear I do have turn into tears. The fear isn’t strong enough to make me quit, I use it as motivation to make sure that I don’t. My determination won’t let anything get in the way of building my business. My attitude was, and still is, I’ll do whatever it takes to be successful and never have to work for someone else again. It seems like an easy job but the responsibilities are profound. If I make a mistake it can have detrimental consequences. People count on me to know what I’m doing and to do it correctly.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Eleventh Hour Signings story. Tell us more about the business.
A Mobile Notary Loan Signing Agent is actually two jobs in one. I’m a mobile notary and I’m a loan signing agent. When I conduct a real estate transaction I have two responsibilities – first, I help the borrower or seller sign, initial and date in the appropriate places and then I notarize those documents before returning them to the escrow/title company. Since I am also a Mobile Notary, I travel to meet with people throughout South, West and East San Diego county to notarize documents such as Family Trusts, Power of Attorneys and a multitude of other documents. It sounds simple but it requires an incredible amount of attention to detail and an understanding of real estate documents and notary laws. The state of California requires that I’m re-certified every 4 years which includes being finger printed and an extensive DOJ background check. In addition, the companies I’m contracted with require yearly background checks and re-certification as a Loan Signing Agent.
I’m bonded and have $100,000 E&O insurance. Due to the volume of notarizations I complete, I use one notary journal approximately every 3-4 weeks and I’m required to keep them for 10 years… UPS and FedEx know who I am because I order paper by the case and have it delivered. The pens and paper I use are high quality because I believe it portrays a higher level of professionalism. I have a website and advertise on numerous websites and social media.
- The cost of notarization is set by the State of California at a maximum of $15 per signature notarized.
- Website: www.11th-hoursignings.com
- Phone: 619-387-8355
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org