You are entitled to know who owns your mortgage. Why does it matter?
- You might have certain legal rights that require you to send notice to the note owner before you can try to enforce those rights. If you don’t know who owns your mortgage, you can’t send the notice to the right people;
- Your servicing company might be guilty of wrongdoing. As the agent of the mortgage owner, that might make the mortgage owner liable, also. You need to know who that is.
- Short sales and loan modification negotiations should be conducted differently depending on who owns your mortgage. If Wells Fargo itself owns your mortgage, you have much more flexibility in designing a solution than if a securitized trust owns your mortgage.
- Many hundreds of millions of dollars of loans were double and triple sold. I don’t mean sold, and then sold again, and then sold again. I mean the same note sold to three different companies at the same time. Fraud, in other words. That creates a real nightmare regarding your rights and remedies. How can you sort it all out if you don’t know who is even claiming to own your mortgage?
- There are lots of other reasons, too many to keep listing here.
Here is how you find out who owns your mortgage, or at least who the servicing company THINKS owns your mortgage. This must be done by a letter sent certified mail, return receipt requested. If you try to do this with a phone call, they don’t have to respond to you.
The letter is called a Qualified Written Request, or QWR for short. Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. §2605(e)(1)(A), -(e)(1)(C), lenders have 20 days to acknowledge receipt of your letter, and 60 days to respond to your request for information.
Another law, the Truth in Lending Act, says you are entitled to know the owner of your mortgage, and the servicing company must tell you that information. That law can be found at 15 U.S.C. §1641(f)(2). If the servicing company fails to tell you, they can be liable to you for damages under 15 U.S.C. §1640(a). The damages could be as much as
- Any actual damages you have suffered, PLUS
- Twice the amount of any finance charge in connection with the transaction up to a maximum of $4,000, PLUS
- Reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.
Putting these two laws together, you send a QWR letter asking for the identity and contact information for whoever owns your mortgage. The servicing company is required to answer your letter and give you the information.
Do not let servicing companies play “hide the pea” with you. Insist on your rights, including the right to know who owns your loan. Yes, most servicing companies will tell you emphatically, righteously, and with trembling indignation that you are not entitled to this information. They will say it with so much conviction you will think they could also walk on water because they believe so fervently! Just because they want to believe it, doesn’t make it so.
The other common tactic is to simply ignore you. Either way, they end up being in violation of your rights under RESPA. You might want to consult with an attorney to protect your rights.