What Happens to an Escrow Account if You Are Foreclosed On?

by Don Rafner

The foreclosure process is a stressful one. Not only will you lose your home, you'll also suffer serious damage to your credit score. You might also lose any leftover funds in the escrow account you've created with your mortgage lender. That's if you even have any dollars remaining in this account after you've lost your home to foreclosure, which is unlikely.

Escrow

Many lenders require borrowers to create an escrow account when they take out a mortgage loan. You'll send extra money to your lender with each monthly mortgage payment. Your lender will place this money in an account and use the money to pay your property taxes and homeowners insurance bills on your behalf. This way, homeowners are also forced to save throughout the year -- with each monthly mortgage payment -- the money they need to cover these often hefty bills.

Foreclosure

When borrowers sign their mortgage papers, they give their lenders the right to take back their homes if they fail to make their mortgage payments on time. Through the foreclosure process, lenders repossess homes and evict their former owners. Lenders then try to sell these homes on the open market, hoping to recover their financial losses.

Escrow and Foreclosure

Lenders will use any leftover funds in borrowers' escrow accounts to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance. That's because they can't legally sell foreclosed homes if these bills aren't paid. If there is money leftover after this, lenders will use it to reduce the mortgage debt that their borrowers still owe. The home's former owners, then, will not receive any escrow refund.

Shortfall

Often in a foreclosure, homeowners have a shortfall in their escrow accounts. They haven't been paying their monthly mortgage bills so they also haven't been making their escrow payments. Often, an escrow account has a negative balance by the time of a foreclosure, so the question of whether former homeowners might receive a refund is moot.

About the Author

I'm a veteran freelance writer with more than 15 years experience writing for newspapers, consumer magazines and trade publications. My stories have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, BusinessWeek Online, Business 2.0 Magazine and many other publications. I am also the managing editor of a real estate magazine based in Chicago and the writer of www.propertycrossroads.com, a blog devoted to residential real estate. This year, my first comic-book series, GEARZ, was published by Blue Water Publishing. The company will be publishing three other of my comic-book mini-series in 2008 and 2009.

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