Home ownership/refinance paperwork - keep or shred?

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Topic Author
ChrisB
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:11 am
Location: Portland, OR

Home ownership/refinance paperwork - keep or shred?

Post by ChrisB » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:13 pm

Morning all.

I'm a little embarrassed to ask this question as I feel I should have a better handle on this.

I purchased my home in 2004 utilizing a 80% mortgage /15% HELOC /5% down (to avoid PMI). I paid off the 15% HELOC in the first year and got rid of that. I refinanced in 2009 under HARP, and again in 2012.

This is the part I am embarrassed about - I have a big box filled with paperwork from these transactions and I have no idea what is what! My mortgage was also bought and sold a couple of times so I think I have paperwork from 6 or 7 lenders plus all the application paperwork, good faith estimate paperwork, title insurance paperwork... you get the idea. Picture a rats nest of paperwork spilling out of a cardboard box relegated to a corner of the basement next to the cat food and old bicycle parts.

My questions are:
  • What paperwork do I need?
    Which of this paperwork is important enough to store in fire safe file and which can just be filed?
    What can I shred?
    How long do I keep old lender paperwork?
    Where do I begin getting organized?
(I have been on a bit of a tear getting organized since a coworker was found deceased in his home. I'm 41 and he was just 47 and a single Dad. Super sad and scared me enough to kick my plans into action. My wife is not super interested in knowing too much about our finances so I have put all our bank account/retirement info / life insurance info / IPS into a single Google document and am trying to thin out some accumulated paperwork.)

The home ownership paperwork has been bugging me for years. Any assistance would be appreciated!

Thanks in advance.

mpowered
Posts: 51
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:15 am

Re: Home ownership/refinance paperwork - keep or shred?

Post by mpowered » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:16 pm

I typically scan all of my paperwork onto organized folders on a cloud service like box.com. It's pretty easy to make all these PDFs searchable which means they will be easily accessed if you need it at some point in the future.

The info is encrypted during upstream and downstream and also encrypted as it sits on the server. As long as you have a very good password, you will be fine.

Then I shred everything, and feed it to my worm bin :).

PennySaved
Posts: 109
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:05 pm

Re: Home ownership/refinance paperwork - keep or shred?

Post by PennySaved » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:28 pm

I am in a similar situation. Bought a condo in 2004, refinanced in 2009, then again in 2012. Also have a 2006 HELOC which I have borrowed from a few times and paid it off. I keep the settlement sheet, the deed of trust, the loan documents and all the other documents signed at settlement time. All the mortgage application and documentation to get the mortgage and the good faith estimates, you probably don't need to keep. I keep all the settlement documents because they have data that supports my refinancing points deduction I made on my Federal taxes. The refinancing points are deducted over the life of the loan, so I need the original documentation on what that amount was. I tend to keep more than I need. I would definitely keep anything related to your own title insurance.

Topic Author
ChrisB
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:11 am
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Home ownership/refinance paperwork - keep or shred?

Post by ChrisB » Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:23 pm

Thanks folks.

I like the online document storage idea. now' time to start digging through it all.

mrpotatoheadsays
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:36 pm

Re: Home ownership/refinance paperwork - keep or shred?

Post by mrpotatoheadsays » Sat Nov 08, 2014 11:54 pm

ChrisB wrote:I like the online document storage idea. now' time to start digging through it all.
It's a great idea... until that online site goes bankrupt and closes.

Digitize everything, put it on some kind of media and store it in a fireproof safe.

Bill M
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Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:10 pm

Re: Home ownership/refinance paperwork - keep or shred?

Post by Bill M » Sun Nov 09, 2014 11:12 am

I'm generally in favor of scanning everything and discarding the paper. But, ...

There are two categories here - (1) stuff that might be interesting to you sometime later, and (2) stuff that might be essential in future real estate transactions.
(1) interesting later - this is stuff that I'd scan and discard the physical paper
mortgage applications
all the good-faith estimates of closing statements
notices that mortgage has been sold

(2) possibly essential stuff - I'd still scan it, but KEEP THE PAPER!!
original deed and title to property
title insurance policy
closing statement (to establish cost basis in the property)
for every mortgage, the paperwork that indicates it is paid
statements if there ever was an error in crediting a mortgage payment (in your favor or against you)

Keep the documents in category #2 until the property is sold. Safe deposit box is a good place. At time of sale, you may need to prove that all the prior mortgages have been satisfied (especially if the bank pinched pennies and didn't file the satisfaction documents with the county clerk). Everything that might have led to a lien on the property (like the HELOC) should have paperwork when the lien is removed. You'll also need documentation of the capital gains on the property; keep that paperwork with the income tax return for several more years.

Topic Author
ChrisB
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:11 am
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Home ownership/refinance paperwork - keep or shred?

Post by ChrisB » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:24 pm

Thanks Bill M - all good advice!

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walletless
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Re: Home ownership/refinance paperwork - keep or shred?

Post by walletless » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:44 pm

I use truecrypt to encrypt ALL my documents (immigration, tax returns, identity cards, mortgage papers, car title, etc), then store the encrypted file in two places:

1) Onedrive (by Microsoft) - It's unlikely that Microsoft is going to shutdown the service overnight, so it seems like a fairly safe place to keep these documents. Everything here is up-to-date - I scan and replace my digital documents immediately after I receive a new/updated document.

2) Put the encrypted file in a 16 GB pen drive, and keep the pen drive in bank safe deposit locker. I update this about once a quarter, where I bring the pen drive home, copy the latest encrypted store there, and put it back in the safe deposit box.

Between the two, I feel somewhat safe that my digital documents are safe. The only way I would lose everything would be if OneDrive closed overnight, AND my pen-drive corrupted around the same time... unlikely to happen (but you never know!)
Another way I would lose everything is if I lost the password/decryption key... This has not happened yet, and I store a copy in LastPass, where it is stored behind a 2fa account.

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