Knowing who owns your mortgage is not always simple. Your loan may have been sold, perhaps several times. And the company that you send your mortgage payments to may not hold your mortgage. There are several reasons why you may need to know who holds your mortgage loan, or who services it. Here's how to figure out who holds your mortgage.
The first step in determining who holds your mortgage is identifying your mortgage servicer.
Understanding Mortgage Servicers
A mortgage servicer handles the day-to-day management of your loan. This is the company that (among other things):
- collects and processes your monthly mortgage payments
- tracks your account balance
- manages the escrow account (if you have one), and
- supervises the foreclosure process (if you are in foreclosure).
The servicer of your mortgage may be the same as the holder of your loan, but not always. Mortgage holders often retain a mortgage servicer (which may or may not be a lending institution) to manage the loan. If this is the case, the mortgage servicing company acts as an agent for the mortgage holder, but does not own the mortgage.
Who Is Your Mortgage Servicer?
There are several different ways that you can find out the identity of your mortgage servicer.
- You can check your monthly mortgage billing statement. (Your mortgage servicer is the company that sends you the bill for your mortgage payment.)
- Look at your payment coupon book (if you have one). The servicer will be listed.
- Call the MERS Servicer Identification System toll-free at 888-679-6377 or visit the MERS website at https://www.mers-servicerid.org/sis/index.jsp. (Your mortgage servicer’s identity will be listed in the MERS system if you have a MERS loan. Learn more about MERS and its role in mortgage transactions in Nolo’s article What is MERS?)
Understanding Mortgage Holders
A mortgage holder, more accurately called a “note holder” or simply the “holder”, is the owner of your loan. The holder has the right to enforce the loan agreement. The loan agreement consists of:
The holder of the note is the only party that has the legal right to collect the debt (and foreclose on the property) if you don't make payments.
Who Is Your Mortgage Holder?
There are several different ways that you can find out the identity of the holder.
- The easiest option is to call the mortgage servicer and ask who is the actual holder of the loan. (That’s why you first need to figure out who your servicer is.)
- You can also send a qualified written request to your servicer asking who owns the loan.
- If your loan is in the MERS system, you may be able to find out who owns your loan by calling MERS or running a check on the MERS website. (You’ll need the borrower’s name and social security number to access this information.)
Reasons Why You May Need to Know the Indentity of the Servicer or Holder
The following examples are just a few scenarios where you’ll want to know who is the servicer or holder of your mortgage.
- If you need general information about your mortgage loan account (such as the monthly payment amount, the next due date, or late fee information), you’ll have to call your mortgage servicer.
- If you have fallen behind in your mortgage payments and want to negotiate an alternative to foreclosure (such as a loan modification, short sale, or deed in lieu of foreclosure), you need to contact your mortgage servicer.
- If you are having trouble making your mortgage payments and want to apply for assistance under your state’s Hardest Hit Fund program (if there is one), you should contact your mortgage servicer. (Find out more about Hardest Hit Fund assistance in Nolo’s article Housing Finance Innovation (Hardest Hit) Fund.)
- If you are a homeowner in foreclosure, you’ll want to know the holder. If you think that the foreclosing party does not actually own your loan, you may decide to raise a “produce the note” defense. (Learn more in Nolo’s article "Produce the Note" Defense in Foreclosure.)