STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.– The Staten Island Board of Realtors (SIBOR) advises you to pay close attention to your mortgage loan account. Review your account regularly to make sure your payments are credited on time and that there aren’t any unexpected or unusual fees or charges.
If you don’t get monthly statements, check with your servicer to see if you can access your account online. Be assertive. Question any items you don’t understand and keep good records of communications with your servicer. Among the items to monitor:
- Posting of Payments. Keep a record of the amount you pay and when. If you have made a full payment, your loan servicer must credit that payment to your loan account as of the day it is received. If you make a partial payment, the servicer is not required to credit the payment to your account. The servicer might return your payment to you or put it into a “suspense” or “hold” account: the payment sits in limbo until you provide the funds to equal a full payment.
- Improper Late Fees. Most mortgage contracts include a “grace period” – the time you have to pay your mortgage without incurring a late fee. If you make your payment during the grace period, there shouldn’t be a late fee. The day your servicer gets your payment is the day that counts, not the day you send it.
- Too Many Late Fees. You should be charged a late fee only if you don’t make a mortgage payment in full and on time. Some servicers have charged borrowers late fees on payments that were made in full and on time because the borrower didn’t include a payment for a previously unpaid late charge. This practice is called late charge “pyramiding,” and it’s against the law.
- Default-Related Fees. Review your account for default-related fees. Make sure you understand what they’re for and why you’ve been charged. If mystery fees appear on your statement under headings like “other fees” or “corporate advances,” contact your servicer for an explanation.
- Escrow Account. If you have an escrow account with your mortgage for payment of real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance, review your annual escrow account statement. Make sure the amount for taxes and insurance on the statement are correct and that your tax and insurance payments have been made on time. If you have an escrow account, your monthly mortgage payment will increase if the amount you owe for taxes or insurance increases. If the escrow amount is short, adjust your monthly payments to cover it.
- Bankruptcy Servicing. Some borrowers choose to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to stop foreclosure and stay in their homes. In Chapter 13, the court generally approves a repayment plan that allows you to pay your debts over three to five years. Your bankruptcy plan may include your past due mortgage payments, but it does not affect your obligation to make your current mortgage payments. You must continue to make those payments in full and on time or you may be in default. If default happens, you could be charged late fees and default-related fees, and the loan servicer may ask the court for permission to foreclose on your home.
About The Staten Island Board of REALTORS® (SIBOR)
The Staten Island Board of REALTORS® (SIBOR) is the largest not-for-profit trade association in Staten Island, N.Y.
SIBOR exists to enhance the ability and opportunity of its members to conduct their business successfully and ethically; and to promote the preservation of the public’s right to own, transfer and use real property.
Comprised of over 1,600 members, SIBOR serves real estate agents, brokers and affiliated professionals throughout the borough and surrounding areas.
SIBOR is the provider of the Staten Island Multiple Listing Service Inc. (SIMLS), which works as a clearinghouse through which more than 250 local real estate firms exchange information on properties they have listed for sale. Together, its members participate in over 3,000 real estate transactions every year.
All SIBOR members belong to the New York State Association of REALTORS® (NYSAR) and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).
SIBOR may be reached at 718-979-0007 and viewed online at http://siborrealtors.com. SIBOR may also be visited on Facebook at “Staten Island Board of Realtors,” on Twitter via @SIBOR, and on YouTube at the Staten Island Board of Realtors and RelevantPR channels.
Media Contact: Barton Horowitz