Mortgage servicing companies matter more than ever
Chances are, the company that you send your mortgage payments to isn’t the owner of the loan or the original lender.
Instead, payments are sent to a separate “mortgage servicing company.”
Mortgage servicers tend to be out of sight, out of mind. You usually don’t have to interact with them aside from sending monthly payments.
But when you do need help from your mortgage servicer — for instance, to remove PMI or request mortgage relief — you want it to be a good experience.
Here’s what you need to know about mortgage servicers, including what to do if you’re unhappy with your company.
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What is a mortgage loan servicer?
It might come as a surprise, but many mortgage lenders don’t service the loans they originate.
Instead, they transfer the servicing rights to another company that handles the ongoing administration of the loan.
This includes receiving and processing payments, managing a customer’s escrow account, providing tax forms, assisting with customer inquiries, and other tasks.
The mortgage servicing company also tracks a customer’s payment history and reports this information to the credit bureaus.
Mortgage loan servicers and COVID-19
Your mortgage loan servicer is also the company you’ll turn to if you need mortgage relief — like a forbearance plan or loan modification — due to financial hardship.
This was the case for millions of homeowners who needed to pause payments or update their repayment plan during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new awareness of their mortgage servicer bought new pains for some homeowners.
Hours-long hold times, expensive “system glitches,” and credit reporting errors were just a few of the cracks that showed up as mortgage loan servicers dealt with an unprecedented wave of loan relief requests.
As a result, many homeowners will likely pay more attention to who their servicer is moving forward.
So, who are the best mortgage servicing companies? How do you know who yours is? And what should you do if you want a different loan servicer?
When you’ll work with your mortgage servicing company
Knowing your mortgage servicing company is important in the event that you have to interact with the company outside of making your payments.
You might need to contact your mortgage servicer if:
- You need to update your homeowners insurance information or ask a question
- You believe your property has at least 20 percent equity, and you want to ask about removing private mortgage insurance
- You’ve been impacted by COVID or another financial setback, and you need to discuss mortgage relief options
- You lost your job or had a decrease in income, and you need to request forbearance to keep your mortgage in good standing
Of course, there’s a good chance that none of these ever apply to you.
And in that case, you might continue making mortgage payments to your servicer without ever having to worry about who that company is or the quality of its customer service.
How to find out who your loan servicer is
It’s important to note that your mortgage servicing company can change multiple times over the life of your loan.
But it’s easy to find the name of the company currently servicing your loan.
You can locate this information on your mortgage statement, or you can search the Mortgage Electronic Registration System using your name, property address, and Social Security number.
When your mortgage servicer changes, you’ll receive a letter notifying you of the change at least 15 days before the date of the transfer.
In addition, the new servicer will send a letter upon completion of the transfer.
This letter will include pertinent information such as the name and address of the new servicer, and the date you’ll begin sending payments to the new company.
Who are the top mortgage loan servicers?
Some mortgage loan servicers maintain better relationships with their customers than others.
J.D. Power’s Mortgage Servicer satisfaction study asks homeowners what they think of their mortgage servicers in five areas: communication, customer interaction, billing and payment process, and escrow account administration.
Here are the 15 servicers that came out on top for satisfaction (all earned above-average scores of 781/1,000 or higher).
Top mortgage servicing companies for 2020
|Mortgage Servicing Company||Customer Satisfaction Score1|
|Huntington National Bank||827/1,000|
|Bank of America||804/1,000|
1Top 15 mortgage servicing companies according to J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Primary Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study. See the full report here
Should I care who my mortgage servicing company is?
Since mortgage servicing experiences can vary, some homebuyers want to know the name of the company that will service their mortgage after closing.
This is understandable. But when shopping for a mortgage loan, the focus shouldn’t be on the servicing company. It should be on getting the most affordable loan. This can potentially save thousands over the life of the loan.
In all honestly, even if your mortgage lender transfers the servicing rights, you’ll probably have little (if any) interaction with the servicing company.
When shopping for a mortgage, the focus shouldn’t be on the servicing company. It should be on getting the most affordable loan.
Keep in mind, too, that many reputable lenders also partner with reputable servicing companies.
So if you want to increase the odds of having a positive experience with a mortgage servicing company, start by getting rate quotes from well-known, highly-rated lenders.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re concerned about servicing, inquire as to whether a lender services their own loans.
If they’ll transfer your mortgage, get the name of the servicing company they use. From there, you can research the company to make sure it has a good reputation and high ratings with its customers.
What to do if you’re unhappy with your loan servicer
Unfortunately, you don’t have a say in whether a mortgage lender transfers your loan to a servicing company. They have the right to transfer the loan and decide where it ends up.
Even so, if you’re unhappy with your loan servicer or experience major issues, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Remember, too, that not every lender transfers their loans to a servicing company.
Some lenders have the capacity to service their own loans and handle the ongoing administration of these loans. This is rare, but it does happen.
If you prefer a lender that provides their own servicing, you can apply with one of the following banks:
- Quicken Loans
- Union Bank
- US Bank
In addition, many local and smaller community banks service their own loans, as well as some credit unions.
Shop for a mortgage loan, not a mortgage servicer
The bottom line is that you likely won’t have to interact with your loan servicer much — if at all.
That means it shouldn’t be a top concern when shopping for a mortgage.
It’s more important to shop for the right loan type, a low rate, and fair loan terms, since these are the things that decide how much you’ll pay in the long run.
But if you’re concerned about who your servicer will be, don’t be afraid to ask. If a lender is quiet or cagey about its servicing partners, that’s probably a bad sign.
But if they’re forthcoming with the name(s), you’re free to do your own research and decide if it’s a servicer you’d be comfortable working with.
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