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Escrow Account

Mortgage Library: Closing: Closing Costs: Escrow Account

If your property is destroyed by a fire, the lender will have lost his collateral. Also if your taxes are left unpaid, your state can foreclose on your property in order to obtain payment and the lender could lose his collateral. Because of that the lender wants to make sure your insurance premium and property taxes are always paid.

The lender collects your property taxes and your insurance premium in a special account. The money in the account will be used to pay your taxes and insurance premiums when they become due. The amount in this account is based on the estimated amount necessary to pay these obligations each year.

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) sets limits on the amounts that a lender may require a borrower to put into an escrow account for purposes of paying taxes, hazard insurance and other charges related to the property. Your lender or servicer will review the amount in the escrow account annually and notify you of a shortage or excess. Any excess of $50 or more must be returned to the borrower.

RESPA does not require lenders to impose an escrow account on borrowers; however, certain government loan programs (for example, FHA and VA loans) or lenders may require escrow accounts as a condition of the loan.

If you have a Conventional Loan and you do not have PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance), you have the option to close your escrow account and make your own tax and insurance payments. If you have a VA or FHA loan, the maintenance of an escrow account was a condition for the funding of your government-insured loan. In this case, the escrow account cannot be waived or altered.

Your escrow account payments may include a "cushion" or an extra amount to ensure that the lender has enough money to make the payments when due. RESPA does not require lenders to maintain a cushion and limits the amount of the cushion to one-sixth of the total amount of items paid out of the account, or approximately two months of escrow payments.

We provide you with some Frequently Asked Questions about escrow accounts that HUD prepared for consumers.

Related Articles:

Closing Costs A list of fees that you’ll have to make during the closing with brief explanations.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
Real Property Taxes
Consumer's Guide To Mortgage Settlement Costs This brochure will give you detailed explanation of different closing costs, so you may find the entire settlement process far simpler than you might have imagined.

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) is a consumer protection statute. It covers one-to-four family residential property purchase loans, assumptions, refinances, property improvement loans, and equity lines of credit. Section 10 of the RESPA limits the amount of money a lender may require the borrower to hold in an escrow account.

Your Rights under The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.
Text of The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
RESPA Rules relating to disbursements from escrow accounts.
What can you do to get a refund if the lender was at fault for paying the tax bill late?

If You Have a Complaint

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