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Mortgage Servicer

A nearby abandoned house is being vandalized. How do I contact the mortgage servicer responsible for this mess?

My neighbors abandoned their home two months ago. The home has since been broken into and trashed. How do I find out who the lender is on the mortgage so they can deal with an escalating bad situation?

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Highlights

  • Your county government will have a record of mortgages recorded on the property.
  • You may be lucky and find the servicer listed in MERS.
  • Call your local law enforcement.

Let us a define several terms before answering your question.

Mortgage Servicer

A mortgage servicer is the party responsible for the servicing of a mortgage loan. Servicing means receiving any scheduled periodic payments from a borrower, including amounts for escrow accounts, and making the payments to the owner of the loan or other third parties of principal and interest and other payments.

Well-known mortgage servicers include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase. Mortgage servicers work on behalf of investors, such as Fannie Mae, other government entities, insurance companies, and retirement accounts.

Recording a Mortgage

For hundreds of years, countries following British common law have tasked local officials with keeping a record of who owns land and the rights to land. In the US, this responsibility falls to offices called various names, but are usually called something like county recorder, county assessor, or county clerk.

A mortgage or deed of trust is an encumbrance, or claim, on real property. Therefore, the most certain means to find who or what has a claim on a piece of real property is to pay a call on the county recorder’s office and ask the staff for the name of the mortgagee on the property in question.

Some counties keep these files in books by hand. Others advanced into the computer age and keep their records in databases anyone may access on the Web. If you are fortunate, your county recorder's office embraced the 21st century and you may be able to find the name of the mortgage servicer from your recorder's Web site.

MERS

Another means to learn the name of a property’s mortgage servicer is by accessing the MERS Servicer Identification System Web page. MERS tracks approximately 60% of the recent US mortgages, so there is a good chance a property will not exist in the MERS database. However, if it is, visiting the MERS page may save you a trip to your county court house.

Law Enforcement

If your local sheriff or municipal police department is not aware of the damage to the property, call to report it. The police or sheriff will want to know the house is being damaged for several reasons, not the least of which is that abandoned properties become magnets for crime more serious than vandalism. A mortgage servicer may be able to ignore one or two complaints from neighbors of abandoned property, but will respond when a law enforcement official contacts the mortgage holder. Perhaps the law enforcement contact reminds the mortgagee that in some jurisdictions, the land owner of a property used for criminal activities faces criminal liability.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.

Best,

Bill

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