A Notary Signing Agents Guide to Attorney States and Escrow States

Different states handle real estate transactions differently. Be sure to do your research about your state’s laws to be sure that you comply.

What is an attorney state?

In an attorney state (also known as no-escrow states), real estate attorneys conduct real estate transactions in-house. They take the place of the escrow or title company. In these states, a Notary Signing Agent cannot help with any aspect of the real estate closing process that would require the preparation of documents. Real estate attorneys must prepare the deed, title search, and all other documents for the real estate closing. Different attorney states have different laws concerning what parts of the real estate transaction the attorney is responsible for. Depending on your attorney closing state, there may be different parts of real estate closings that only an attorney can perform.

What is an escrow state?

In escrow states, real estate transactions are conducted by third-party escrow or title companies instead of requiring real estate attorney involvement. They act as an impartial third party between the buyer and seller through the signing process in a real estate transaction. An escrow state is a jurisdiction in which real estate transactions like mortgage loans and other loan documents for the real estate industry (e.g., home equity lines and other documents affecting real estate) are handled by an escrow company or agent rather than a real estate attorney. The escrow company is responsible for overseeing and ensuring that all terms of the transaction are met. These “escrow states” allow Notary Signing Agents to serve as the closing officer and prepare all necessary documents for the closing.

How does this affect real estate closings for Notary Loan Signing Agents?

This affects real estate closings for Notary Signing Agents because they get signing appointments differently depending on the state the real estate closing is occurring in.

Since signing appointments are handled in-house in attorney states, it’s sometimes more difficult for signing agents to conduct real estate closings in these states. But some attorney states still bring Notary Loan Signing Agents into their office to conduct the signings.

Real estate transactions originating in other states

However, suppose the property is sold in an escrow state. In that case, a Notary Signing Agent in an attorney state can typically still conduct the signing without any licensed attorneys present, even if the Notary Loan Signing Agent lives and operates in an attorney state.

As an example, you might live in an attorney state like New York, but since it’s also a tourist destination, travelers from an escrow state like California may be visiting and need to sign closing documents in your state. Signing services and other companies providing assignments will reach out to you to help with these types of mortgage closings.

So to be profitable as a Notary Signing Agent, you’ll need to rely on businesses that originate in states other than those in which you live.

Can a Loan Signing Agent still make money living in a state that requires real estate attorneys?

If you live in an attorney state, there’s no need to worry because you can still find signings, especially if you live where tourism or business travel is frequent. But you need to know this upfront to plan how you want to run your business. We know of one Loan Signing Agent who has consistently made six figures per year and has made more than multiple tens of thousands of dollars in many months who works in an attorney state.

A Notary Loan Signing Agent can be successful in attorney closing states

The good news is that there might be less competition because many notaries choose not to become Notary Signing Agents in attorney states.

Many Notary Loan Signing Agents, though, have become very successful in attorney states. However, you should check with an attorney or whoever heads up notary commissions in your state (typically the Secretary of State’s office) to inquire about how to conduct loan signings legally.

And if you live in an escrow state, you’ll be able to receive signings originating in other escrow states as well as your own, so the business potential is even more significant.

StateAttorney State
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California​❌ (we offer a state-approved required notary training course in this state)
Colorado❌ (we offer a state-approved required notary training course in this state)
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia​❌
Florida​❌
Georgia​​✅
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky​✅
Louisiana​✅ Attorney must examine title
Maine​✅
Maryland✅ An attorney must approve most documents before recording.
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi​✅
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada​❌
New Hampshire
New Jersey✅ North New Jersey
❌ South New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina​✅
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee✅ All recorded documents
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia​✅
Washington
West Virginia​✅
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Is New York an attorney state?

Yes, New York is an attorney state, which means that a licensed attorney must conduct real estate transactions. This includes all documents related to the title and deed as well as any loan-related paperwork or documents

Is Florida an attorney state?

No, Florida is not an attorney state. A licensed Notary Signing Agent can conduct real estate transactions in Florida; no attorneys must be present at the closing. As long as all legal paperwork is handled correctly, Notary Signing Agents in Florida can conduct real estate closings without attorneys.

Is South Carolina an attorney state?

Yes, South Carolina is an attorney state. This means that real estate transactions must be conducted by a licensed attorney and any legal paperwork must also be handled by an attorney.

Is Georgia an attorney state?

Yes, Georgia is an attorney state. Real estate transactions in Georgia must be conducted by a licensed attorney and any legal paperwork must also be handled by an attorney.

Is New Jersey an attorney state?

Yes, New Jersey is an attorney state. Real estate transactions in New Jersey must be conducted by a licensed attorney and any legal paperwork must also be handled by an attorney.

Is North Carolina an attorney state?

Yes, North Carolina is an attorney state. This means that real estate transactions must be conducted by a licensed attorney and any legal paperwork must also be handled by an attorney.

Is Texas an attorney state?

No, Texas is not an attorney state. A Notary Signing Agent can conduct real estate transactions in Texas, and no attorneys are required to be present at the closing. This means that as long as all legal paperwork is properly handled, Notary Signing Agents in Texas can conduct real estate closings without any attorneys present.

Is Pennsylvania an attorney state?

No, Pennsylvania is not an attorney state. A Notary Signing Agent can conduct real estate transactions in Pennsylvania, and no attorneys are required to be present at the closing. This means that as long as all legal paperwork is properly handled, Notary Signing Agents in Pennsylvania can conduct real estate closings without any attorneys present.

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