What, exactly, is escrow?
Most lenders require homeowners to pay hazard insurance and taxes, and, in some cases, mortgage insurance in monthly installments. The monthly installments go into an escrow account set up by the lender. The lender then pays the bills from the escrow account. A borrower might ask: "If I never see the bills, how do I know if the monthly set aside is correct?"
Find out correct amount.
You may need to contact your taxing authority and insurance carriers to get the amount for the bills. Your copy of the lender's annual report to the Internal Revenue Service may also break down the expenditures from your escrow account.
Here are some danger signs that indicate you may be overpaying into your escrow account:
- Your escrow payment is increased by the lender, but taxes and insurance have not risen;
- The lender requests funds to cover private mortgage insurance after your equity exceeds 20%;
- Your mortgage has been sold by one service company to another and the escrow amount is different;
- A large amount of money stays in the escrow account;
- Unanticipated or unexplained deductions are made from the escrow account at closing.