Real Talk with CHIA #12: Why choose the notarial field as a profession, how to become a notary, how to advance in this great career and how to adapt to market reality such as the real estate boom and the covid era. Michael Chriqui from Leroux Côté Burrogano, Notaries and Lawyers, makes us discover his passion and his job.
This episode aired May 11, 2022 and is rebroadcasted on Youtube, here is its transcription:
Chia: Hello, I'm Chia, your host of "Real Talk with Chia", today with this beautiful
spring weather I have the pleasure of having Michael Chriqui with us to talk to us about
Hello Michael, thank you very much for being here with me today.
Michael: Thank you for having me, it's very nice.
Chia: Yes, that's what we were discussing it earlier, what I really like to learn today with
you is to know why a student chooses notarial studies.
Michael: Ok so why are we going the notarial route.
Chia: Exactly and what are the possible career advancements.
Michael: Yes absolutely so listen Chia I can tell you about my personal journey a little
bit if you want.
Chia: Yes please.
Michael: So basically when I went to law school in 2008 I had no idea what a notary
was. You go into law and your first years of law you don't really have an idea of what a
notary is, usually you are only introduced to the profession of lawyer and that's
something that I think we try To remedy today, there are committees in notarial law that
try to introduce students early to what is notarial so that they can see that it is an
alternative career to the bar that is really, really interesting and me personally it was in
the third year of law that I discovered the notarial profession and so you finish your
bachelor's degree in law and instead of going to the bar, what you do is that you are going
to do what we do today calls the master's degree in notarial law, an additional year of
specialty by the contribution to notarial law and then of course the internship that follows
and the exams of the chamber of notaries and that's it.
Chia: Ok, actually what am I wondering because I work so much with lawyers and
notaries of course for different reasons but for a student what are these nuances? Is it, as a
notary there is more standardization?
Michael: I would say that basically usually if you like litigation, you don't go to the
notary, it's certain that if you want to do litigation if that's what turns you on, the notary is
not for you, that being said there is a panoply of things you can do as a notary and as a
lawyer too you can often not do litigation so that is very, very clear but the notary is what
'we called at the time and I think we still call him, he is the local lawyer, he is the person
who will accompany people in very privileged moments of their lives, very personal
moments; make your will, settle an estate, your first real estate purchase and we tended at
the time to think of the village notary, well there was a village notary, you went to the
market, you talked to him, you asked him questions, 02:55 we live in the same area you
and I, it still happens to me today, customers who have a ton of questions while we're at
the grocery store and so it's interesting to see that this reality still persists today.
Chia: But you know, as a notary there are different possible niches to support clients in
their daily lives or in the most significant activities of their lives, there is the will for
example, there are transactions real estate so what are these different sub-sectors?
Michael: It's a good question Chia so the notary, it's important that people know it, the
notary is so vast when you think of a notary at the base we say good I went to see my
notary for my refinancing , for my deed of sale or for my will but there is so much more
that one can do as a notary, as a notary you are a lawyer who can do essentially
everything that a lawyer can do except litigation except when it becomes litigation so I
have colleagues who are specialists in trusts, I have colleagues who are specialists in
commercial law, in corporate law, financing at 45 million, I have colleagues who are
specialists in non-contentious procedure, really , really everything and there are even
some colleagues of mine who have specialized in immigration law and divorce law, so
who have been able to do divorces for a few years now as notaries. So you really have
something for everyone.
Chia: I think it's also a field of activity that evolves over time, isn't it? So for example in
practices, in your tools, in what you are allowed to do or not, it has also evolved.
Chia: For example, for two years we have entered the COVID era whether we like it or
not and at the same time we are also experiencing a real estate boom so in my daily life
as a real estate broker it is that finally What do we share with my colleagues is that we
really have a lot of difficulty reaching notaries because of this real estate boom, notaries
have an overload of work, they are very hard to reach, is what you live the same reality?
Michael: I live the same reality Chia so I would tell you that the last two years have been
so strange to live as a practicing notary, I'm in residential real estate so that's the big
boom, isn't it? And as a notary who practices in there if I can give you a summary of the
last two years so we are leaving, we are in March 2020, the pandemic is starting to hit, it
is becoming global and there of course everyone is afraid, we have fear as a real estate
notary that the market will completely die, that it will be over, that's what people say,
that's what economists say.
Chia: Oh yes that's true.
Michael: So and there then, in a few weeks, to the credit of the chamber of notaries, they
established with the government the procedure to sign documents electronically.
Chia: Right, that's it.
Michael: So introducing the signing of documents electronically which allowed us, even
if we were no longer receiving clients at the office, to continue to move the market.
Chia: Exactly, however I would like to point out that not all notaries have adopted this
new way of doing things.
Chia: Then why?
Michael: Listen it's a good question, you should ask them more than me because I
jumped on it because I think that when you give yourself tools that allow you and the
notary has this bad reputation can - being a slightly archaic, a little old, a little old-
fashioned profession, it's not a bad thing for us to have entered the digital age, I think on
the contrary it is a very good thing and when you find this door you have to take your
place and so I jumped on it right away, I know that I have a ton of colleagues who
jumped on it, you don't you're not wrong there are a few who still don't and I loved, in the
middle of a pandemic, being able to sign deeds with someone who was stuck in
California and couldn't come back to Quebec.
Chia: It's true, it happens like every day.
Michael: Frequently, frequently. I had someone in Saudi Arabia I woke up at some point
at 3 am because someone was in Singapore and they could only do it 12 hour difference
ago they could only doing it at that hour, me, I love it, that's what turns me on so I loved
the opportunity, now of course the interest rates were low so the real estate boom came,
we s didn't expect it, in the middle of a pandemic, it was a total boom but and there Chia
that's where it was important to have a certain balance because it's one thing, first of all a
ton of call and it's exciting a ton of calls for transactions, you can't say yes to everything,
you can't say yes to everything because if you're confident in your abilities, you have to
keep putting the same work into every file that he required before the real estate boom,
it's not because everyone wants me to do their transaction that I'm not going to put the 10
to 20 hours that a real estate file er ask so you have to make sure you have time to do it,
you understand? And it hurts sometimes because you have to say no to good clients, to
good collaborators and you want to do it, you just want to do it well.
Chia: Indeed, indeed so what I'm hearing is that those who have adopted the new
electronic signature tool can really make their work more efficient, simpler and then
because it was actually overworked. It’s really in every way what I realize that due to the
overload of work, some notaries as you say can no longer do the job of verifying the titles
as well as probably what they did before. I just had a personal experience at the
beginning of this week, I just sold one of my buildings so here I go to the notary's office
that the buyer chose and suddenly he said to me madam are you aware that the seller who
sold you has not yet canceled his mortgage and there I said no, I was not not aware and
then there the seller said however several buyers have already made their transactions
there so the others were not aware either so it just means that in the face of this work
overload, if we are not going to equip ourselves or if we don't adapt to the new way that
makes us more efficient, we might miss some elements.
Michael: And that's the danger of the thing, isn't it? And that's what I'm telling you and I
hope my colleagues do the same is that despite this great business opportunity but it's not
all about the money, you have to do the job right , you have to put in the work that his
request and if you can't do it unfortunately you have to refuse the mandate and the reason
is that even a client who, you know, a broker that I like, lots of brokers that I like, let's
say a good broker that I like says please do this file, do this file, get it in two weeks, I
can't get it in two weeks, if I say yes and I do it well, well, I haven't just done anything
good for this broker, I haven't just done anything good for this buyer or for this seller, so
in the end it ends up breaking the relationship in addition to exposing me to legal
recourse responsibility if ever there is a real problem with the transaction so you have to
be able to make sense of things in a market like this a, it's not always easy Chia and there
are a ton of speakers who are also affected by the housing boom and by COVID, right?
So trying to get a certificate of location as you may know is harder than ever, trying to
reach a human being in the bank is harder than ever.
Chia: But just talking about certificates of location means that surveyors too are facing
this new reality that they don't... I don't know how it's structured legally speaking but they
haven't adopted the neither does the electronic signature tool.
Michael: Ok they haven't adopted the electronic signature tool?
Chia: But maybe one on 10:55 because as being one of the records I have, this guy says,
he says to the customer in one of you two can do the verification by Facetime then the
other he it has to be in person.
Michael: Ok, I understand, it's hard to have the right time.
Chia: But why don't I understand.
Michael: And they too, moreover, they too are making this real estate boom live and
must devote the number of hours that you devote to the projection of a certificate of
location in good and due form, it's not easy so there you see, me when I started in 2012,
the deadlines for having a certificate of location, you could sometimes have one in two,
three weeks without problem and sometimes you pay an emergency price you can have
them in one same week, now we are at I think, it was three, four months.
Chia: Oh no, no more than that, no, no recently at a surveyor's office, you know, I called
hello and welcome to surveyor tel, so please note we're not taking any new clients for a
year so thank you and have a nice day.
Michael: Oh no Chia wow, ok no I haven't been there at the office, we have deadlines but
it doesn't look like that.
Chia: Or when I call the notaries' offices, hello and there we are sorry, we have a very,
very high volume of requests so we will answer you when we answer you, that means
that we have no idea what the processing time is and you won't hear from us.
Michael: And it's 12:28 because it leaves you in the dark, saying that there are buyers
who absolutely need to know who their notary is, he must provide this information, you
try to join at least one or two people and if you can't reach them it creates frustration in
Chia: Ah no, no, in fact I think that for like a year, I would say a year, I have been living
in each of the transactions the uncertainty of sellers and buyers, you know, in front of the
notary because the offices are not able to give me no answer, is it such a day, is it such a
day, there is not even a precise date then after that he says ok is there any information
missing, they are not able to answer then after that but as long as a notary tries to find
assistants to relieve them of the work and then after that the assistant, by the notary's lack
of time, then by the lack of communication, cannot can't go back, can't follow up either,
precisely at your desks, you have a big desk, how do you ensure yourself in the face of
the labor shortage situation and an explosion of job opportunities business, how do you
seek out new recruits and ensure this training?
Michael: It's extremely difficult, it's difficult for us, I think it's difficult for everyone, the
labor shortage at the same time as this incredible job boom has been excruciating and
that's has become a bit like what we say in English "cut throat" where there are notary
offices who will call, try to talk to my assistant, convince her to go to their house.
Chia: For real?
Michael: Yes, yes, it really, really happened, we really go through it, we go through all
the colors and I think everyone is going through the same thing in our world, it's not easy,
I think the important thing is to give back to your employees, isn't it? Me my team is
everything for me and I have people who are there certainly, I have people who are loyal
and I have people who are not going to leave because we stand together, the environment
work is good and it's important and I think it has also helped us as an employer, I am an
employer, I personally have five employees but in the office we are around thirty so it has
helped us as an employer to know and maybe to improve things, you know, to be better
with our staff, me if my daughter comes to see me, if my main paralegal comes to see me
and tells me Michael I'm booked for the month of May we stop take it, I'm going to stop
taking it even if there are great opportunities that arise present, it does not matter, I want
it to be correct, you understand? That's more important to me than taking one or two or
three more files that will break her. And communication is so important, for me it's the
aspect of the job that I prefer, I love communication so I do it like the others did for two,
three weeks I had this automated message because we get 200, 300 emails a day that's the
reality at one point i had a counter and it said sorry i'll get back to you within 24 hours
yes i took it down after a week because i hated it message i love customer contact so i
don't mind i know it's not necessarily always the right thing to do because it constantly
distracts you from answering emails instantly but i like doing it if not that to tell them
personally I'm going to check this out and get back to you ASAP, at least it lets them
know you're on it.
Chia: Yes, that's right, a follow-up reassures a lot, a lot, a lot of people.
Michael: And it's not that hard to do, it's not that hard.
Chia: No, I know, I do it constantly because I want to reassure people, but I see that there
are several professionals who have precisely, they say to themselves there are too many,
there are too many I don't know which end to take.
Michael: And you know and it goes back to what we used to say in a case like that just
stop taking it if you're not able to do proper communication with customers anymore,
stop taking it as an example, we'll we're not going to let a seller, we're not going to let a
buyer, we're not going to let a broker wait three, four days before getting an answer from
us, that's not correct, do you understand? You answer during the day even my daughters
know it, they have blocked hours where they specifically answer the email, they know
that they will do it and throughout the day when we have emergencies and well you
Chia: Yes I know if I can share an experience that almost made me sick, it was a notary
who never, never, never answered, the buyer and the seller were super, super, super
anxious, excessively anxious so my phone hasn't stopped ringing then I have voicemails
full, full, full, more than full always of this part because they say how come we haven't
heard from the notary then when we go to the office, we can't see her either, when we
communicate by phone, by email there's no way to get any answer so I had to in the end
cut my voicemail because otherwise I was going, I remember there I was driving then I
saw again like an incoming call from the salesman to know what the notary did, I can't
know, I don't know she doesn't answer and it's really hell.
Michael: That must have created incredible frustration for you Chia.
Chia: Oh yes.
Michael: And when you, maybe you are the same as me, but when I refer and I refer a lot,
I love referring to colleagues, I love knowing the limits of what I do, what I do I do it
very well but if someone asks me to do something that I don't know how to do, I prefer to
send it to see a notary colleague who is an expert in this and who will be able to help
them without any problem. And when brokers refer me, there is trust when you refer
someone so you want the person to be able to respond.
Michael: I think it's important, you put your name, you put your reputation a little bit
behind this reference that you give it's like when I was, you know I give you a parallel,
when I was young with my brother before social media we play kinda stupid games and
there was this trust game where i closed my eyes i fell backwards and my brother had to
catch me, half the time he dropped me on the floor, it doesn't matter, that's my brother but
all that to say that I feel like when I prefer someone it's a bit like that it's confidence, I I
trust that the person will catch the ball on the exact bounce and will respond and he will
give the serve, that's all I ask, I want nothing more than you to give my client the serve.
Chia: Yes and maybe because of the service or because maybe the person referred
doesn't have time to process a request but at least give the right time, at least do a follow-
up, it's so important, anyway i wish everyone could really just take three seconds of their
time to say yes no or here comes someone else.
Michael: It's not that difficult Chia, it's not that difficult and you know that we have
customers who are very easy and customers who are very demanding and that's okay so
there are 2 worlds , there is one who will ask you nothing until the date of the transaction
and there is another who will call you every day and you have to be able to weigh things
up, you have to be capable of, you know, yes you may not answer him 19:22 but you will
explain to him, I will get back to you in a week, once I have this information, this
information, you give them a way to see things that will calm them down, you know it'll
calm them down on their side, they'll know you're on it, they know you're on it, that's all
they want customers, they just want to know that you're on their case and so there you go.
Chia: Absolutely, and then what about the office in your team and there are other ways
that you have developed over the past two years to become more efficient and basically
to adapt to this new reality.
Chia: In addition to communication, in addition to electronic signatures.
Michael: Yes, yes so if you think of notaries, you put a vision of a notary and that's how
it was when I started, it's there were some colleagues of mine who had 30 years, 40 years
of practice, they didn't even have a computer on their desk, there was one that still did,
which I really like and he is and is still a friend today even if he is retired, who had a
dictaphone for him and therefore he was going to dictate a notarial deed from a to z that
his paralegals were going to retype.
Michael: I'm serious. So the gap between that and where we are today is huge, isn't it?
And we took advantage of the pandemic at the office to also adapt to the level of
scanning, you know we have so much paper and the files that we have to keep for ten
years which were becoming enormous, we started to scan everything, we started to, since
we had this digital shift and well we jumped on it as an office and we adapted to the
digital shift and it simplifies the job so much Chia, when someone says you tell me
Michael I bought with you saying five years ago, can you send me a copy of my deeds?
Well I have instant access to your actions, I no longer need to go to the archives to find
them and so we really, we took the ball on the rebound, we took care of it and there we
really are , truly more digital than ever before.
Chia: Yes it's really important and there are so many tools that make it easier, you know
even in brokerage, we too, I have just certified my own real estate agency.
Michael: Congratulations Chia.
Chia: Thank you very much. So in the agency we must have a compliance plan with
regard to all that is the retention of documents so the policy with us is that in fact we will
not even take the document we will not keep or temporarily keep client documents
because the original copies there is only one so what do we do is that when we meet the
client, we digitize it on the spot and then we put the document in hand to the client, we do
not even keep it, so there is absolutely no possibility that the document will be lost
because of the broker.
Michael: Yes, it's there, absolutely, it's such a good practice to adopt, you know and we
notaries yes there are deeds which must of course remain on paper, there's no problem
but we are able I will tell you 80 to 90% of our files we are able to purify them, the
emails at the time we printed each email that was sent, each email that was received Chia
so when I tell you 200, 300 emails per day just because it happened to us in the past of
the customers eh you never told me that, well yes here is the email it was received, here is
your answer so you are able to have a follow-up all that but everything can be digital we
know it very well, everything is there, everything is saved so we are improving, there is
still room for improvement but we are improving, we have to adapt, we have to adapt to
the world we live in, you have to adapt to technology and if you don't take the train when
it passes you'll miss it, you know if you want to stay, if you want to To have a good
reputation, you have to adapt to where we are right now.
Chia: Ok I would like to talk about career advancement so there earlier you mentioned
that you have five employees so what is someone who can become a paralegal and after
that become a notary or what exactly are the steps to go through and then is a notary like
a lawyer in the sense that he is self-employed so he is the SENC, etc. I try to understand
how we can structure ourselves as a team.
Michael: Yes there are several Chia structures and that's why the notary you can do with
it what you want so once you finish your exams, you become a notary, you have finished
your internship and once again you are sworn in as a notary with the chamber of notaries
well, I have colleagues who decided the next day to leave their own office, right away, as
a self-employed worker, they carry their own office, they operate as a solo notary, n 'is
this not? As an entrepreneur notary, there are others like me who have chosen the path of
going to work in a large office, it can be a small office, a large office, an average office,
you will work in an office with other notaries and you are an employed notary, so you are
an employed notary but you are an employee of the firm just as a lawyer would be an
employee of any law firm 24:09 you are an employed notary, then you can become a
partner with the firm if the firm has a partnership structure or after a few years you can
break away and become a solo notary, become an entrepreneur notary, take what you
have learned and go apply them yourself and found your firm. So you really have
something for everyone, it's really, really the same as the structure of an avocado I would
Chia: Ok perfect, well basically it's the same structure as the real estate brokers too.
Michael: Yes absolutely, you are absolutely right.
Chia: Because I too have lived several, you know I've been in brokerage for three and a
half years and so at the beginning I was affiliated with a residential agency, after that the
following year a commercial agency then the following year I became independent and
finally now I have just created my real estate agent and that I can receive brokers in our
Michael: It's wonderful, are you going to receive brokers both residential and
Chia: Yes, absolutely, absolutely because basically we are at the service of entrepreneurs
so an entrepreneur can have both commercial projects, a commercial project or he can
also have his own personal needs for sell and buy your house so yes, we will be able to
serve these entrepreneurs in their needs.
Michael: It's wonderful, absolutely offer the range of services, they come to you, they
will not go elsewhere, you offer them both services.
Michael: That's beautiful Chia, great.
Chia: Thank you, thank you. So there in your daily life because you have a specialization
in residential real estate, tell me about what are the elements required to be a good notary
in your field.
Michael: Yes so it's interesting so it's a good question I would tell you that and because
once again often and it's part of our job to learn how to population what we are doing,
right? it's going to happen to have frustrated customers who will maybe think that, you
know, they go to the notary, they sign the deed of sale, they say to themselves it's crazy
why was I just paying for sign this deed of sale and they won't see the work that comes
behind and the work that comes behind all that from the day you receive your mandate so
the brokers' offer to purchase is what will work distinguish a good notary from a bad
notary I don't want to use bad notary but a good notary in real estate matters is someone
who will do the job from day 1 to the signing of the deed of sale perfectly so it involves
being good at law to do a title search, title search is extremely important in our work, isn't
it? We go back in time, we make sure that everything that happened on this building is
perfect, that there is not what is called a title defect with the building, we communicate
with the panther surveyor , we obtain the certificate of location, we check it from a to z,
we make sure that there is nothing that may have been missed, that everything has been
done correctly, we communicate with the bank, we takes care of the contact to obtain the
mortgage instructions, we communicate with the manager of the syndicate for the co-
ownership, we make sure that there is no special contribution, that there is no 27: 08, that
there is no lawsuit, that there is nothing a potential buyer would like to know and if the
file is going well, usually the buyer should ask himself how it is everything went well but
if everything went well it's because you hired the right notary who took care of it.
Chia: Yes that's right, who checked everything and then made sure that here is the
disbursement, here are the distributions, here are the titles.
Michael: And when everything is not perfect Chia, the distinction is easier to make
between, once again, a good notary and a notary who is perhaps a little less when there
are problems in a file so when there are problems in a file, that's when you're happy to
have a notary who knows what he's talking about and who knows how to solve the
problems and who won't, not disappear in the mist but who won't don't go ghosting a bit,
it happens, sometimes I get calls to solve problems that others don't want to solve, you
understand? And I like that because that's where I'm going to step up, when there's maybe
a potential problem with a file, I had a file recently, someone who bought a house, a good
friend of mine who bought a house and the garden did not belong to him so in 1982 when
they sold the property it was part of a large lot and they sold part of the house and they
forgot to include the garden part.
Chia: A small detail.
Michael: And he loves the garden. So the garden is not included and that's where maybe
others don't know what to do, well we had an exact plan of how to fix that, we put him in
touch with an expert in the matter, a colleague of mine who is an expert in going to court
to acquire the property by acquisitive prescription, we would have joined the lady from
1982 who still had this garden in her heritage but she had died and the heirs couldn't be
found, so solving situations is what turns me on, you understand? She's the one I like,
when a case is going well it's perfect, but I like when there's an element can be
problematic that pushes you to bring your expertise forward.
Chia: Yes in the garden example I love it and personally I have also experienced it with a
client who is also in love with gardening so he wants a large yard and then looking for
properties is that I I noticed that there is a super beautiful house whose all the criteria
correspond but that the magnificent garden precisely does not belong to it but that once
again it depends on the 29:41 of the professionals in front of a client because I says
maybe another broker would not have seen this problem, would just have said I found
what is needed, the client depends on the advice of the broker, he makes his promise to
purchase , he has his promise to purchase accepted then he realizes all the conditions they
go to the notary then it depends another time if the notary sees that or not, checks this
information or not with the buyer so the buyer could maybe - to have even gone,
however, to buy a property whose garden does not belong to him.
Michael: Shit it happens all the time but that's why between notaries, it's not that we
don't trust each other, but each notary we double check the titles but why double check
the title deeds if the property has been sold ten times since 1990 well if it has been sold
ten times and each notary we assume has done a title search, I will never rely on what my
last colleagues have done, I will make sure of their do it myself just to give my client the
security of mind that I've gone through this and everything is perfect because
unfortunately we find mistakes all the time Chia, we find mistakes all the time, listen it's
correct, it's part of life and that's why we're here, it also justifies our work, to be able to
justify it when everything is going well it's easy to be a notary, when there is more
problematic situations well that's where you have to step up
Chia: Yes, it's true, it's true, it's really interesting, we have so, so many things, parallel
experiences, that's it, well that's why I think brokers and notaries can make a really good
Michael: And they do it every day, every day I have wonderful brokers I deal with who
trust me and vice versa and that's the part of the job that I love the most, it's is this
collaboration between professionals, to have a good circle of professionals in whom you
trust I love it and that's why you don't necessarily have to take more than you are able to
execute otherwise you lose this trust .
Chia: That's it, you have to dare to say no sometimes.
Michael: I hate to say no, I'd rather work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week don't tell my
wife that because she doesn't like it I'd rather do that often than say no it's just that at
some point there is also our staff, right? There's our staff that we can't burn, we talked
about the shortage of manpower and if you burn your paralegals and then you lose
Chia: No, no, absolutely, you absolutely, absolutely have to put health first.
Michael: Oh yes, totally agree.
Chia: So on this note of health I wish you a wonderful day, thank you for being with us,
thank you Michael for being there with us if you have any questions about anything that
is notarial, in particular real estate transactions, I invite you to contact him, have a nice
Michael: Thank you Chia, thank you very much.