I have a mortgage loan and just received a letter stating that Nationstar is now my servicer. I’ve never heard of them. What does this mean? Is Nationstar a bank?
No, Nationstar is not a bank. It is what’s called a “non-bank” mortgage servicer.
First, let’s define the term “mortgage servicer.” A mortgage servicer handles mortgage loan accounts. Among other activities, the mortgage servicer will:
Sometimes, the owner of the mortgage loan (for example, the bank you took out your loan from) will service your mortgage loan. In that case, the bank is the servicer. In other cases, the mortgage loan owner might transfer the right to service your loan to a specialty mortgage servicing company, such as Nationstar.
The mortgage servicing company then manages your loan account on behalf of the mortgage loan owner, for a fee.
In the past, mortgage servicers were almost always banks. Now, however, banks have been transferring servicing duties to non-bank companies in record numbers.
Why are non-bank servicers handling more loans than in the past? Over the past few years, mortgage servicing rights have increasingly been transferred away from banks to non-bank servicers because these companies tend to specialize in handling delinquent and defaulted loans. Troubled loans tend to require a lot of attention because the servicer has to take on the tasks of trying to collect late payments, helping the borrower explore alternatives to foreclosure, and handling the foreclosure if a workout can’t be accomplished.
For this reason, banks sometimes deem these types of loans to be too difficult and expensive to service. So, banks tend to send portfolios of troubled loans to non-bank servicers.
Banks also sometimes transfer servicing duties to avoid certain obligations. Banks have also been known to transfer servicing duties to avoid strict new regulations relating to mortgage servicing that have been enacted in recent years. By selling the servicing rights, the banks can avoid certain mortgage servicing laws and requirements, along with the costs and efforts associated with ensuring compliance with them.