There are a lot of companies, and people, involved in the home loan process. A borrower might work with a real estate agent, a loan broker, a lender, a title or escrow company, a loan servicer, investor, and so on – it can be somewhat confusing. But most borrowers know what those are – except for the “servicer.” What is a loan servicer, and is it needed?
When it comes to buying a home, the role of the mortgage servicer is an important one that bridges the gap between the borrower and the investor who owns the loan. The role of the mortgage servicer is to provide certain customer service tasks such as, collecting payments from the borrower on behalf of the investor, handling customer service after the loan closes, paying real estate taxes and insurance on escrowed loans, negotiate loan modifications on behalf of the investor, and work with the funds when a loan is paid off.
An issue that consumer groups have had with the mortgage servicing industry is that borrowers have not been able to pick their mortgage servicer (like they did with their lender). This, coupled with the servicer's insufficient resources, left them ill-equipped to handle the mortgage crises. This resulted in inefficiencies such as lack of employee continuity, "runaround" from their servicers, and inconsistency with paperwork. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") has now mandated that for any borrower who is two or more month's delinquent, policies need to be put into place by the servicer to provide these borrowers with easy, ongoing access to a servicer's employees.
The servicer's personnel will be responsible for making sure that the documents get sent to the proper person for handling of the issue. The person responsible for loss mitigation must have timely access to the borrower's records and provide the borrower with accurate information about the foreclosure process and loss mitigation options, procedures a borrower must follow to be eligible for loss mitigation, and the status of any loss mitigation application that the borrower has filed.
Dodd-Frank has demanded that mortgage servicers be more responsive and accountable to their customers. Effective January 10, 2014, a new set of servicing rules will go into effect providing borrowers with better tools and options for dealing with their mortgage servicers. If borrowers have questions before that time on these issues, they should contact their lender or servicer.
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