Escrow FAQ

Answers to frequently asked questions pertaining to escrow

What is an escrow account?

It's an account set up by the lender/servicer to pay property related expenses. These expenses typically include property taxes and homeowner's insurance and may also include PMI or FHA mortgage insurance premiums and flood insurance. 

Why is my monthly mortgage payment more than what I agreed to in the Note? 

The monthly mortgage payment consists of the loan payment and the escrow payment. The loan payment is the principal and interest payment due (Note amount). The escrow payment is any monies collected for tax, insurance, and any FHA or private mortgage insurance (PMI) premium payments due throughout the year. 

Am I required to have an escrow account?

FHA loans will have escrow accounts. Loans that are greater than 80% loan to value when taken out are usually required to have an escrow account. Depending on other variables of the loan, the lender/servicer may require an escrow account. 

How is my escrow payment calculated?

The servicer will use property tax payments and insurance payments from the previous year along with any FHA or PMI premiums payments to estimate the total amount needed for this year. The amount of funds currently in the escrow account along with total amount needed for this year will be analyzed to determine the new monthly escrow payment. 

Why is my escrow payment more than my estimated tax, insurance, and FHA or PMI premium payments?

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) allows the servicer to maintain a 2-month cushion or reserve to cover unanticipated disbursements or disbursements made before the borrower's payments are available in the escrow account.

I've paid all my mortgage payments on time, why does it say my escrow account has a shortage or deficiency?

The escrow payment is calculated using what was previously paid for taxes and insurance, and what is anticipated for FHA or PMI premiums.  Increases in property taxes and insurance bills are usually the cause for shortages or deficiencies in the escrow account.

  • A shortage in the escrow account occurs when the amount in the escrow account is less than the target balance / enough money to cover the disbursements for the year. 
  • A deficiency in the escrow account occurs when the amount in the escrow account is negative. 

Can the servicer require me to immediately repay any shortage or deficiency?

Generally, the servicer can require the borrower to repay the amount over a period of at least 12 months as part of the new monthly escrow payment. 

Why does my escrow account statement show a surplus?

A surplus happens when there is more in the escrow account than needed to pay the anticipated property, insurance, and FHA or PMI disbursements for the next year. 

What happens to a surplus?

If the borrower is current and the surplus is more than $50, the servicer must refund the amount to the borrower within 30 days of the escrow analysis. If the surplus is less than $50, the servicer may refund the amount or credit the amount to next year’s escrow account.

Why did my servicer pay my taxes when I have a payment plan with the taxing authority?

When a borrower does not pay taxes when due, the mortgage document allows for the servicer to pay the taxes so that the taxes do not become delinquent.  When taxes are delinquent, the taxing authority may place a tax lien on the mortgaged property. 

Why did my servicer force place an insurance policy?

When a borrower does not renew or maintain an insurance policy, the mortgage document allows the servicer to force place an insurance policy. However, a servicer may not force place a policy until a written notice to the borrower has been delivered or placed in the mail. The first notice must be at least 45 days prior to assessing the charge for the insurance policy.  

What if my payment is wrong?

First thing to do is contact your servicer and request help understanding how the escrow payment was calculated. If the servicer is using inaccurate information, file a Notice of Error with the servicer explaining the issue along with any documentation. The Notice of Error must be in writing and sent to a specific address, which can usually be found on the periodic billing statement or the servicer’s website. 

Can I have my escrow account removed?

Talk to your servicer to determine if your loan is eligible. 

Where can I learn more?

You can find more information on the CFPB website.