With half of 2024 gone, it's time for our Mid-year review of HSH's 2024 Mortgage and Housing Market Outlook. Have a look and see how we're doing!

With half of 2024 gone, it's time for our Mid-year review of HSH's 2024 Mortgage and Housing Market Outlook. Have a look and see how we're doing!

How do I find out who owns my mortgage?

Q: Who owns my mortgage -- and why does someone else service the loan?

I was told by Fannie Mae over the phone that they own my loan. When I went into the loan lookup tool they make available, it said Fannie Mae does not find a match, therefore, they do not own the loan. How can this be? This has happened many times over.

I have also been told by my servicer that both Wells Fargo and Citibank own the loan. This doesn't seem right to me. How can I find out who owns my mortgage?

A: Homeowners may think they know who owns their home loan, but finding out is a little more complicated than simply naming your loan servicer.

The owner of the loan is most often the "investor" -- the entity who put up the actual funds to make your mortgage happen. This may be the original party for your transaction, such as a bank, but loans (like other investments) are bought and sold between parties, so the owner can change from time to time and could be anyone from a pension fund to a real estate investment trust (REIT) or other entity. Believe it or not, you might actually be a part owner of certain mortgage loans in any bond mutual fund investments you hold.

That said, the loan servicer is usually a separate entity from the owner of the loan. The servicer's responsibility is to collect monthly payments from you, maintain escrow accounts, and distribute funds to other parties (local tax authorities, insurers and to the owner of the loan). For many lenders, this is beyond their capabilities or business model, and so the "mortgage servicing rights" to loans are actually sold to other entities, who make a living providing these loan management services to loan owners and homeowners.

Home loans can be held by their originating source, sold individually to other mortgage lenders or investors or bundled with other similar loans into a mortgage-backed security.

Some large mortgage lenders do their own servicing for their own loans and if they have the capacity may also do servicing for other investors, too. The owner of the mortgage servicing rights may or may not actually perform servicing operations, but instead hire a subservicer to perform loan servicing on their behalf. There are also specialty "subservicers" who may be contracted for specific tasks (loan workouts, modifications, etc.) on behalf of the actual servicer.

In many cases, a large lender may be the servicing entity for large investors or guarantors of loans, like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. They may have even originated your loan, and since your contact would be with this entity, and all your paperwork/statements/correspondence would come from them, you might come to believe that they actually own your loan, when in reality they may have long ago sold the actual mortgage to another party but retained the servicing rights to it.

If Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns or guarantees your loan, you should be able to determine this by using either the Fannie Mae loan lookup tool or Freddie Mac loan lookup tool. If it turns out that neither Fannie nor Freddie owns your loan, there's also a list of mortgage company names and website links to help you locate your lender, or you can check your monthly mortgage statement, too.

In some cases, your loan may be held by a digital management platform. MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc) is a national electronic registry system that tracks the changes in servicing rights and beneficial ownership interests in mortgage loans that are registered on the System, and acts as mortgagee in the county land records for the lender and servicer. MERS also offers a MERS lookup tool that can help you locate the servicer and investor for your mortgage.

Most homeowners do not necessarily need to know who owns their home loan until they have a problem, such as needing to renegotiate the loan terms for a modification, wish to refinance or even arrange a short sale. Under most circumstances, borrowers have a relationship with the mortgage servicer -- the institution that collects the monthly payments -- who may or may not be the owner of the loan.

The simplest step to take to determine who owns your mortgage loan is to contact your loan servicer. There should be a contact phone number on your mortgage statement or the lender's website. In some cases, the servicer will tell you who owns your loan, but sometimes representatives for the mortgage servicer may not know the name (or names) of the investor that owns your mortgage loan or may be prohibited from giving out that information.

If you have a specific complaint you are trying to resolve with your servicer, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau welcomes and openly solicits for these kinds of queries and does follow up on them -- you can find a complaint form and learn more about your rights and obligations at http://www.consumerfinance.gov.

This article was written by Keith Gumbinger. With over 35 years as an expert observer of the mortgage and consumer debt industries, Keith's insights have been featured in tens of thousands of articles across prestigious publications like The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times and more. He has authored multiple consumer guides on first mortgages, refinancing, home equity, and more, and is the primary researcher and writer of HSH.com's MarketTrends newsletter.

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Keith Gumbinger
Keith Gumbinger
Mortgage Expert
Vice President, HSH.com
About Keith: Mortgage market observer and analyst with 35 years experience... (more)
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