It’s likely that your home loan has been sold several times to different parties since you first got it. It’s also likely that the new servicer is not the same as the mortgage lender. Tracking down your mortgage lender and mortgage servicer can be difficult but there are resources you can use to help you uncover this important information. Read more to learn about some of these resources.
Written by Attorney Eric Hansen.
Updated November 29, 2021
You may have done scavenger hunts when you were a kid or with your kids to keep them busy. Finding out who owns your mortgage can feel a lot like a way less fun scavenger hunt for adults. Even the prize is less fun: Once you find the answer, you’re the one writing the check. It’s not much of a prize.
It’s likely that your home loan has been sold several times to different parties since you first got it. It’s also likely that the new servicer is not the same as the mortgage lender. Tracking down your mortgage lender and mortgage servicer can be difficult but there are resources you can use to help you uncover this important information.
With some simple steps, a little bit of leg work, and a better understanding of how mortgages work, you can make this scavenger hunt easier and get back to the things that matter to you and your family.
Introducing The Players
To really understand mortgages, you first have to understand the cast of characters involved in lending money for residential real estate. The major players in the mortgage market include:
Mortgage Servicer: This is the mortgage company that handles day-to-day issues with your loan. They collect monthly payments, send notifications, issue late fees, deal with your escrow account if you have one, deal with your mortgage insurance, and deal with the foreclosure process if you default on your mortgage loan. The mortgage servicer is the agent of the mortgage holder. The mortgage servicer may be the same company as the mortgage owner, but is not necessarily.
Mortgage holder or mortgage owner (also known as the note holder): This is the actual owner of your loan. The original lender was the first mortgage holder. Often the original lender will package and sell mortgage loans to other companies. The mortgage holder owns your mortgage but may contract with a mortgage servicer empowered to handle the day-to-day challenges associated with managing your mortgage. They have the right to enforce the terms of your contract, demand payment if you ever default, or foreclose on a home.
Mortgage guarantor or mortgage backers: This is the organization that ensures that the mortgage holder will be paid if the homeowner borrower defaults, or doesn’t pay on the mortgage. Mortgage guarantors are entities like the Fair Housing Authority (FHA), the Veterans Affairs Bureau (VA), Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Borrower: One of the most important players is the borrower, the home buyer who takes out a mortgage loan to purchase property.
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Finding Out Who Owns Your Loan
If you recently purchased your home and you haven’t received anything in the mail about your loan having been sold or transferred, you should check your closing document or your online portal. Your mortgage servicer and their contact information, including a primary telephone number, should be listed on those documents.
Don’t be surprised if you find out that your mortgage has been sold. In fact, mortgage holders frequently buy and sell mortgages multiple times over the course of a loan. If your mortgage has been sold, the new owner is required to let you know within 30 days of the transfer.
It’s important to know who owns your loan, and there are several different ways to find this information out. This information is vital if you want to refinance your home, ask for a loan modification, or request a forbearance if your monthly payments have become unmanageable.
You’ll also want to know this information if you want to take advantage of the mortgage relief options provided by the CARES Act. These opportunities are available for borrowers with federally backed loans, including those held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, the VA, and the USDA. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD, and the various credit bureaus also have information and resources available related to homeownership, real estate, loan servicing, and the mortgage market.
You can ask your mortgage servicer who the mortgage holder is. They are required to tell you who owns your mortgage due to the Truth in Lending Act. You can send a qualified written request to the loan servicer and they must respond in 30 days telling you who owns the mortgage. You can also call the telephone number of the loan servicer and ask for the mortgage holder’s information.
You can also use the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) to get your mortgage servicer’s information, as well as your mortgage holder’s information if you have a MERS loan. MERS may also have information on the guarantor(s), or the organization(s) that backs your loan should you not be able to pay your mortgage payments.
It’s possible that Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns your loan. These government-sponsored mortgage companies have online loan lookup tools for borrowers to check if they are the owner of your loan.
Remember that you have options and that your lender can’t just walk all over you. Maybe a foreclosure is looming and you are considering a deed of trust or filing for bankruptcy. Your loan will be considered secured debt in a bankruptcy filing.
It’s important to know who owns your mortgage. You’ll need this information if you’re late with your monthly payments, are looking to refinance your mortgage loan, or need a loan modification. There are several resources you can use to find out who owns your loan. When you contact your loan servicer, they are required by law to tell you who owns your mortgage. This information may change over time as mortgages get bought and sold, but you should be alerted of any changes within 30 days of such a sale.