Who Owns Your Mortgage and Why Care?

Who owns your mortgage?  What a dumb question – the bank owns my loan and their contact information is at the top of the bill I get each month!  Sorry, wrong answer and one of the many reasons why the Foreclosure Process is so confusing.  Read on and we’ll try to make it less confusing.  Learn About all Your Foreclosure Options to Beat the Bank.

Initially, there’s an important distinction between loan servicing companies (the company that sends your monthly bill) and the company that actually owns your mortgage. Loan servicing companies are hired by the true owners of the loan to handle everything from billing and collecting monthly payments to filing foreclosure lawsuits when needed. What makes things even more complicated is that most loan servicing companies are owned by large banks and financial institutions which means you might get a letter from a division of Chase Bank as the servicing company for a loan owned by IndyMac, Deutsche Bank or others but not Chase!  Is Your Mortgage Underwater?

Although usually owned by banks, these companies only make money if your foreclosure remains active so they generally have little or no incentive to settle your case.  If the case is resolved and the foreclosure process ends, the loan servicing company loses out on the extra fees for handling collection matters on your account which makes finding the real owners even more essential.  Given the huge numbers of mortgages in default, the actual owner of your loan likely has little or no information about your situation until you let them know directly.

Use our Sample Documents and Letters to Explain Your Situation to the Bank.

Once you figure out who services your loan, the next issue is confirming who truly owns your note and mortgage and who has the right to sue you as a result of that ownership.

Learn about the Difference Between Your Note and Mortgage.

The easiest way to find out who owns your note and mortgage is asking the loan servicing company in writing for ownership documentation. Although you’re legally entitled to it, you may need to ask for it several times as they’re often unwilling to provide the information.  If a Foreclosure Lawsuit has already started, make sure the banks produce paperwork confirming that they owned the note and mortgage at the time the lawsuit was filed and don’t just rely on what they’ve said in the lawsuit which may be entirely wrong.  See our discussion on Foreclosure Defenses as well as our Sample Foreclosure Answer for help in getting this information from the bank and why they had to own the mortgage before the lawsuit was ever filed.

Surprisingly to many homeowners the current owner of your mortgage is almost never the original lender from your initial loan closing or the lender from your mortgage refinancing or home equity line of credit. Instead, after your loan closing most if not all of the original lenders sold your loan documents to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and others who then resold the mortgages to financial institutions on Wall Street.  See How Mortgage Insurance Can Help Stop Foreclosure.

Bundles of thousands or more of these mortgages were then sold as shares of stock or bond offerings known as mortgage backed securities on the financial markets meaning your loan documents may have been sold several times and the ownership issue is muddled at best. Although many legal scholars disagree as to whether the stock or bond fund owns each underlying mortgage or whether the shareholders each own fractional interests of each mortgage, the prevailing notion is that the trustee for the bond or stock fund is the actual owner and therefore the only party who can legally make ownership decisions regarding your mortgage.  Learn How Strategic Default Works.

What the confusion over who owns your mortgage means is twofold-the first is that figuring out who really owns your loan may be difficult and in some cases impossible. Secondly, ownership issues and who has the right to sue you may be a life saver or more accurately a home saver.  As you’ll see from our discussion of Foreclosure Defenses, the failure to own the note and mortgage at the time the foreclosure lawsuit was filed or not providing the proper documentation to show how they actually became the owners of your mortgage and the right to sue you can result in dismissal of the foreclosure lawsuit and Saving Your Cave.  Read More on How SavetheCave.com Can Help You Stop Foreclosure.

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Ten Ways to Stop Foreclosure and Protect Your Foreclosure Rights

The fear of losing your home is a big deal and an emotion shared by millions of other homeowners so you’re not alone. However don’t let fear control what may be the most important financial decision of your life so try to relax and take the time to learn everything you can about the Foreclosure Process and understanding that you have Ten Different Ways to avoid foreclosure sales.  Once you know that there’s hope for a good outcome you take the fear and emotion out of the picture and make decisions that are best for you and your family.

Learn How to Use SavetheCave.com to Stop Foreclosures.

This post will briefly discuss ten ways to stop foreclosure and methods to stop foreclosure sales. You can also find more in-depth coverage and Sample Foreclosure Documents for each of the Foreclosure Options discussed here by visiting our Foreclosure Options section.

The most frequently discussed foreclosure option is a Short Sale which involves selling your home for less than the amount of your loan after getting bank approval for the sale.  If you try for a short sale to avoid foreclosure it’s also important to know how to avoid Deficiency Judgments and what to include with your request for short sale approval.

Short Sale Cover Letter

Short Sale Financial Hardship Letter

The second foreclosure option is a Loan Modification from the original lender or re-financing from a new lender to lower your overall monthly payments. This option is the primary feature of the recent Nationwide Foreclosure Settlement discussed in a related blog and will be the focus of more advertising and financing options in the next several months because of the agreement.  Results can vary greatly with different lenders so be sure to put together the right information needed to convince the bank that your request is real and that a loan modification is essential to help you avoid foreclosure rather than an easy way to save money you already have.

Loan Modification Cover Letter

Loan Modification Financial Hardship Letter

The third most popular alternative is a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure which is the quickest and easiest way to stop foreclosure sales and avoid foreclosure lawsuits.  The process simply involves transferring your property to the bank with a document similar to a quitclaim deed but it may not release you from a possible deficiency judgment or income tax consequences so be sure you understand the possible consequences before moving ahead.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure Cover Letter

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure Financial Hardship Letter

A fourth way to stop foreclosure is closely related to the Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure and is called Deed-For-Lease and is becoming more common with Fannie Mae and other lenders.  What this involves is executing a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure together with a Deed-For-Lease which lets you rent your home from the bank and stay in your current property.  This is a new and exciting foreclosure option that we’ll cover in more detail in future posts but you can get more information now by visiting KnowYourOptions.com which is a site sponsored by Fannie Mae.

The fifth way to stop foreclosure is renting out your home for 2-3 years while temporarily moving to a cheaper location to reduce your expenses and get back on your feet financially.  You can also rent out rooms or any portion of your home but either way the obvious advantage is the ability to save your home and avoid foreclosure completely. Read More on Foreclosure Rentals to Stop Foreclosure.

The sixth foreclosure option is Defending Your Own Foreclosure Lawsuit or hiring a lawyer to help you.  As a result of the numerous  mistakes and fraudulent documents used by banks and loan servicers to support their lawsuits, there are a number of very strong defenses available to help fight foreclosure cases.  Although we recommend hiring a lawyer to handle your case or at least consulting with one for an hour or two to help understand local laws and procedures, you can defend your own foreclosure lawsuit.

Foreclosure Defenses

Sample Foreclosure Answer

Foreclosure Lawsuits

The seventh foreclosure option is filing for bankruptcy protection which results in an automatic stay of all foreclosure actions.  Although its the single most effective way to stop foreclosures and avoid foreclosure sales at the last minute, the stay is temporary and is not a long term solution.  If you feel that bankruptcy may be the best option for you, meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your area and make sure that your first meeting or consultation is free.  Read More About Foreclosure Bankruptcy

The eighth foreclosure option is called “Forbearance”  in which lenders agree to temporarily suspend or reduce monthly payments for a specific period of time if you’re in a situation where the short time off will help resolve your financial crisis.  There are many programs available for veterans and other homeowners with additional information at Fannie Mae’s KnowYourOptions.com and directly from participating lenders.  Forbearance to Stop Foreclosure

Strategic Default is the ninth foreclosure alternative and actually a combination of one or more of the earlier foreclosure options we’ve covered.   Essentially, Strategic Default is the decision to stop making mortgage payments that you can otherwise afford to pay with the goal of reducing the principal balance of the loan, the interest rate or both to more accurately reflect the value of your home in today’s depressed housing market.  With home values down 50% or more in many places it can be a very effective way to improve a dramatically under performing asset and is nothing more than a business decision with no moral implications or obligations whatsoever.  Blame the Banks for the Foreclosure Crisis.

Strategic Default to Stop Foreclosure

Sample Foreclosure Letters

The last option to avoid foreclosure is to Walk Away which for reasons covered in our foreclosure options section has the highest risk of a negative outcome with the least to gain as a result of doing it.  It’s listed last for a reason and don’t even think about doing it until you understand more about the foreclosure process and how much time and how many different options you have.

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How Strategic Default Works

How Strategic Default works and what it means are often discussed but rarely understood so let’s make it easy. Strategic Default is a foreclosure alternative where you stop making mortgage payments that you can otherwise afford as part of an overall plan to avoid foreclosure and improve your finances through reduced or eliminated payments.  Read About All of Your Foreclosure Options

There are two options to start the Strategic Default process –  contacting the bank from the start to let them know what you’re planning and why or waiting for the bank to figure it out on their own. Of course if you decide to contact the lender from the start don’t tell them that you’re formally declaring Strategic Default just focus on your financial problems and the remedy you’re hoping for.

Full Discussion of Strategic Default to Stop Foreclosure

There are advantages to each of your timing options with the hope under option one that working with the lender from the start  leads them to actually help you or at least not pursue a Deficiency Judgment. Not exactly Christmas morning. With option two, the benefit of delaying contact with the bank translates to time and money as the longer the Foreclosure Process continues the more money you’ll save on housing costs.

Regardless of when you actually speak with the bank, DON’T BE INTIMIDATED and don’t let anyone question the morality of your decision. Banks have no moral standing whatsoever to question your ethics or integrity because you’re making a decision that’s in your best financial interest, which is what banks do every day. The difference is that your banks’ never ending quest for short term profits has severely damaged the US economy while you’re just trying to keep a roof over your head.  Read About the Nationwide Foreclosure Settlement and Why the Banks Won Big Again.

Because Strategic Default is not a stand alone remedy, use the specific methods outlined in  SaveTheCave.com  on Foreclosure Loan Modification , Short Sales and Deed In Lieu of Foreclosure to compile whats needed to convince your lender to give you what you want. Using letters from our Sample Documents, put together a professional looking package including evidence that your mortgage is underwater and by how much and be sure to send the materials to the actual owner of your loan rather than the loan servicing company who may have no real interest in helping you. Is Your Mortgage Underwater?

If you’re asking for a Foreclosure Loan Modification by having your principal reduced to fair market value, make sure the bank knows that you’re much more likely to make affordable future payments and that eventually your investment will pay off for both sides.  In addition to avoiding the time and expense of foreclosing on your house, the housing market improves overall meaning banks make more loans and we can all get back to enjoying life and family rather than just trying to survive.  Don’t Let Foreclosure Stress Control Your Life

If you want permission for a Short Sale without the risk of a deficiency judgment, let the bank know that your credit score has already taken a hit and you have nothing to lose. Tell them in clear and unambiguous language that if they don’t agree to a short sale, they’ll face a long and expensive Foreclosure Lawsuit with nothing to gain but adding more property to an already bloated real estate portfolio. Banks only want to make money and don’t like holding excess property with ongoing maintenance, tax and insurance costs so use this knowledge to your advantage.

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Short Sale Sample Hardship Letter

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