Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

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heybro
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Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by heybro » Mon May 15, 2017 2:35 am

Hello!

Long story short, my mortgage is almost paid in full and I thought it was a funny contrast to compare two types of letters I have been receiving from my bank.

The first type of letter includes offers from my bank trying to get me to take out more loans (they don't want me to have a paid mortgage you know!) The letters/offers are flashy, on glossy paper, and include colored images of new homes and kitchens, etc. The actual letters are upbeat and personal. 'Congratulations!' and 'I look forward to personally speaking with you!' etc.

Now, contrast this with a different letter I just got from my bank.

Under my state's law, I recently became eligible to cancel my escrow account. My bank was required to send a letter notifying me of this and telling me what steps to take should I wish to actually cancel escrow. (Of course I want to cancel it because I can surely pay my taxes and insurance myself and not leave a pot of money to drag around with them!).

This letter is very dry. The paper is standard. The print is small. There is not even a salutation. It just says 'Loan Holder: Name.' It is very curt! HAHA. It starts 'State law number blah blah applies directly to your loan.' Argh, that doesn't sound friendly or good.

It goes on to say that if I want to cancel escrow, I have to send a letter back to them informing of my intent. THEN, they will send me a form that I then have to sign....AND THEN send back to them. So many steps! I imagine most of the population would never get past step one, let alone step two. At any point, they'd say 'nah, just easier for my bank to pay the taxes!' And, they could have just as easily just included the required form in the original letter. If a person wants to fill it out, they do. If not, they don't. Why make us ask for it? And you can't ask by phone either!

The final closing of the letter is very non-existent. Almost like they didn't want to sign their name to it. No sincere excited closing like the other letters!

It is really eerie just how different the two types of letters are. I understand they make money if I continue to keep escrow and I continue to keep taking out loans BUT, do they have to be so obviously one-sided about it? I've never seen such a sharp contrast in letters. And, yes, they have the same return address on them!

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by wolf359 » Mon May 15, 2017 6:12 am

One is marketing. The other is the minimum information points required by law.

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AAA
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by AAA » Mon May 15, 2017 6:17 am

Interesting. Maybe the lesson is - the more glitzy the communication, the more it should be ignored.

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midareff
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by midareff » Mon May 15, 2017 9:14 am

FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.

goingup
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by goingup » Mon May 15, 2017 9:38 am

I seem to recall a similar letter from the bank upon paying off the note. It struck me as, "you're dead to me now". :wink:

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by DaftInvestor » Mon May 15, 2017 9:52 am

I canceled my escrow account years ago (far before I paid off my mortgage) as I wanted to manage it myself (after my bank failed to make an insurance payment on time). They only required a written/signed letter of the request. When I called to see how to cancel the escrow they said I was "eligible" although at the time I didn't question what this mean - I didn't know there were state laws - I always thought it depended upon bank policy and the agreement you made when you took out the mortgage.
The mortgage pay-off experience itself was a bit of a pain. They wouldn't take an ACH transfer for a pay-off - wanted either a wire (which would have cost money) or a bank-check. So what I did was made an ACH-transfer for the remaining principal except for $50 and then requested the final pay-off amount so the pay-off check was only $50 and change.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by dougger5 » Mon May 15, 2017 10:08 am

midareff wrote:FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.

+1

We declined escrow when we started our current mortgage back in 2005, preferring to just make sure we sock away a minimum/month and get a few bucks of interest.

2 years ago, our mortgage bank started sending us what so far has become an annual letter, asking for official receipts for all of our property tax payments. The "Taxpayer" portion of the bills that we had been keeping for tax return backup purposes are insufficient for this. The first time it happened I went on a mad scramble to get the properly certified docs from 3 taxing authorities, and since have been diligent about including a self-addressed and stamped envelope for the receipts.

Not sure if it's some state regulation change, or a new initiative of the bank to try and scrape up more revenue.
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by tfb » Mon May 15, 2017 10:25 am

midareff wrote:FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.

Some escrow accounts pay 2% interest, nearly double Ally's rate.
Harry Sit, taking a break from the forums.

heybro
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by heybro » Mon May 15, 2017 11:34 am

DaftInvestor wrote:The mortgage pay-off experience itself was a bit of a pain. They wouldn't take an ACH transfer for a pay-off - wanted either a wire (which would have cost money) or a bank-check. So what I did was made an ACH-transfer for the remaining principal except for $50 and then requested the final pay-off amount so the pay-off check was only $50 and change.


I was actually thinking ahead to the pay-off and was thinking of doing exactly as you did since I figured for sure they will require some additional funny business. All this time it has been just fine to pay extra but I bet that last payment, as you found out, will be a battle.

I had a similar experience when I paid off my final student loan. Every representative I talked to seemed to have never dealt with an actual payoff and they kept informing me that the loan was for, you know 20 years in to the future, etc. and why was I trying to do this now?

I kept sending in the final amount and there would always be like $1.04 left on it -- which they were saying was not due to be paid until 20 years from now (like I want to let 1.04 sit and then get bad credit when I forget to pay that 20 years from now). Finally, I just said 'screw it' and I sent $5.00 in to clear it. I ended up with a positive / credit balance of like 3 bucks, of which they refused to ever pay me for. hehe.
Last edited by heybro on Mon May 15, 2017 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by heybro » Mon May 15, 2017 11:35 am

goingup wrote:I seem to recall a similar letter from the bank upon paying off the note. It struck me as, "you're dead to me now". :wink:


oooooooooo, something to look forward too!!!

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by NoVa Lurker » Mon May 15, 2017 11:40 am

Yes, whenever I see people post about how happy they are to have repaid their mortgage / student loans, I always wonder if their experience was as frustrating and anti-climactic as mine has been.

I have paid off one set of student loans and two mortgages over the past few years, and each time it was a process that took months. My favorite was when the lender kept auto-withdrawing while it had still not refunded me the over-payment. I had already sent a written notice to stop the auto-withdraw, but they told me it could take more than 30 business days to process that. 30 business days!

When you're finally back to zero, it's just a relief that you don't have to deal with the institution any more.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by miamivice » Mon May 15, 2017 11:53 am

I have chosen not to pursue cancelling escrow, because escrow is convenient and rates are low. They pay my taxes and insurance on my behalf each year and I don't have to worry about paying them. Insurance is simple enough because a guy can do autopay. But taxes are a pain, and if you miss them you owe more, and if you continue to miss them you lose your home. The low cost of escrow and the guarantee that I don't miss paying taxes is worth the minimal cost right now.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by DaftInvestor » Mon May 15, 2017 11:59 am

heybro wrote:
DaftInvestor wrote:The mortgage pay-off experience itself was a bit of a pain. They wouldn't take an ACH transfer for a pay-off - wanted either a wire (which would have cost money) or a bank-check. So what I did was made an ACH-transfer for the remaining principal except for $50 and then requested the final pay-off amount so the pay-off check was only $50 and change.


I was actually thinking ahead to the pay-off and was thinking of doing exactly as you did since I figured for sure they will require some additional funny business. All this time it has been just fine to pay extra but I bet that last payment, as you found out, will be a battle.

I had a similar experience when I paid off my final student loan. Every representative I talked to seemed to have never dealt with an actual payoff and they kept informing me that the loan was for, you know 20 years in to the future, etc. and why was I trying to do this now?

I kept sending in the final amount and there would always be like $1.04 left on it -- which they were saying was not due to be paid until 20 years from now (like I want to let 1.04 sit and then get bad credit when I forget to pay that 20 years from now). Finally, I just said 'screw it' and I sent $5.00 in to clear it. I ended up with a positive / credit balance of like 3 bucks, of which they refused to ever pay me for. hehe.


I overpaid the pay-off by 3 cents (the $50 check got there and was cashed a few days earlier than expected) so they mailed me back a 3 cent check. :)
I don't know what they would have done if I had ACH transferred the pay-off amount but did wonder and considered trying it. I felt like I was in the dark ages having to go to the bank for a bank-check and then to the post-office for a stamp.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by cantos » Mon May 15, 2017 12:22 pm

NoVa Lurker wrote:Yes, whenever I see people post about how happy they are to have repaid their mortgage / student loans, I always wonder if their experience was as frustrating and anti-climactic as mine has been.
...
When you're finally back to zero, it's just a relief that you don't have to deal with the institution any more.


Similar story here. I had such a horrible time being bumped around paying off my student loan with a big bank, such that when I finally paid it off, I closed all my accounts and moved to a different bank. And I will never give the old bank my business again.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by midareff » Mon May 15, 2017 12:24 pm

tfb wrote:
midareff wrote:FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.

Some escrow accounts pay 2% interest, nearly double Ally's rate.



Geez, don't be shy and share some. I self escrow for property tax, home insurance, car insurance and EFTPS Quarterly IRS payments. Where can I get 2% without a bunch of additional requirements?

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by midareff » Mon May 15, 2017 12:27 pm

dougger5 wrote:
midareff wrote:FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.

+1

We declined escrow when we started our current mortgage back in 2005, preferring to just make sure we sock away a minimum/month and get a few bucks of interest.

2 years ago, our mortgage bank started sending us what so far has become an annual letter, asking for official receipts for all of our property tax payments. The "Taxpayer" portion of the bills that we had been keeping for tax return backup purposes are insufficient for this. The first time it happened I went on a mad scramble to get the properly certified docs from 3 taxing authorities, and since have been diligent about including a self-addressed and stamped envelope for the receipts.

Not sure if it's some state regulation change, or a new initiative of the bank to try and scrape up more revenue.


LOL, mine sends demand letters for proof of the condo associations insurance. I get them whether or not the insurance company sends them a copy.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by Easy Rhino » Mon May 15, 2017 1:45 pm

midareff wrote:
tfb wrote:
midareff wrote:FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.

Some escrow accounts pay 2% interest, nearly double Ally's rate.



Geez, don't be shy and share some. I self escrow for property tax, home insurance, car insurance and EFTPS Quarterly IRS payments. Where can I get 2% without a bunch of additional requirements?


Move to california? The minimum escrow interest is around 2%.

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgag ... sting.aspx

However, if you overcontribute into escrow the servicer will eventually refund you the money, at least when they do an annual analysis, and might send you a letter telling you to cool it.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by midareff » Tue May 16, 2017 7:25 am

Easy Rhino wrote:
midareff wrote:
tfb wrote:
midareff wrote:FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.

Some escrow accounts pay 2% interest, nearly double Ally's rate.



Geez, don't be shy and share some. I self escrow for property tax, home insurance, car insurance and EFTPS Quarterly IRS payments. Where can I get 2% without a bunch of additional requirements?


Move to california? The minimum escrow interest is around 2%.

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgag ... sting.aspx

However, if you overcontribute into escrow the servicer will eventually refund you the money, at least when they do an annual analysis, and might send you a letter telling you to cool it.


I think the state income tax vs. Florida (none) would more than compensate. Thanks but no thanks.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by h82goslw » Tue May 16, 2017 8:24 am

midareff wrote:
tfb wrote:
midareff wrote:FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.

Some escrow accounts pay 2% interest, nearly double Ally's rate.



Geez, don't be shy and share some. I self escrow for property tax, home insurance, car insurance and EFTPS Quarterly IRS payments. Where can I get 2% without a bunch of additional requirements?



Sorry to hijack....but in regards to midareff's post....I've been making quarterly payments for almost 20 years and never knew about the EFTPS system. I'll be signing up for that today so I don't have to waste the time and money of sending a check! Thanks for sharing that.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by daytona084 » Tue May 16, 2017 10:07 am

I had a fun experience paying off my mortgage. At one point, with a few months left before the loan would have been paid off in the natural course of events, it dawned on me that the escrow balance was greater than the loan balance. So I walked into a branch and said "I want to pay off my mortgage using my escrow funds". The teller said, "No, you can't do that". I said "Yes I can, the escrow account is my money, let me talk to the manager." The manager apparently had a bit more smarts and took care it right then and there.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by 4ransom » Tue May 16, 2017 11:23 am

Several years ago before bogleheads, decided I wanted to be debt free. I had two loans, a car loan and a small mortgage. I guessed what I thought the payoffs would be and mailed checks explaining what I wanted to do. I received a letter on the car loan, they wanted $11.46 and would then send the title, all went well. On the house mortgage I just received the deed in the mail. Thought about it later and figured there was no way I guessed the right payout to the penny and if it wasn't enough they wouldn't have send the deed. Never quite trusted them since.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by celia » Tue May 16, 2017 11:36 am

4ransom wrote:On the house mortgage I just received the deed in the mail. Thought about it later and figured there was no way I guessed the right payout to the penny and if it wasn't enough they wouldn't have send the deed. Never quite trusted them since.

Why can't you know the exact dollar/penny amount? I believe our monthly mortgage statement would always have the exact outstanding balance of the loan on it.

Never had an "escrow account". No need for one.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by Goal33 » Tue May 16, 2017 11:47 am

4ransom wrote:Several years ago before bogleheads, decided I wanted to be debt free. I had two loans, a car loan and a small mortgage. I guessed what I thought the payoffs would be and mailed checks explaining what I wanted to do. I received a letter on the car loan, they wanted $11.46 and would then send the title, all went well. On the house mortgage I just received the deed in the mail. Thought about it later and figured there was no way I guessed the right payout to the penny and if it wasn't enough they wouldn't have send the deed. Never quite trusted them since.


I paid slightly less than a payoff amount on a student loan, so my next normal payment would just pay it off. They just absorbed the final 5 dollars or so and called it paid off. So you might have just had some money you owed them be absorbed.
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by midareff » Tue May 16, 2017 11:49 am

h82goslw wrote:
midareff wrote:
tfb wrote:
midareff wrote:FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.

Some escrow accounts pay 2% interest, nearly double Ally's rate.



Geez, don't be shy and share some. I self escrow for property tax, home insurance, car insurance and EFTPS Quarterly IRS payments. Where can I get 2% without a bunch of additional requirements?



Sorry to hijack....but in regards to midareff's post....I've been making quarterly payments for almost 20 years and never knew about the EFTPS system. I'll be signing up for that today so I don't have to waste the time and money of sending a check! Thanks for sharing that.


Not to hijack either but ..... end of the year I run HR Block and TurboTax online projections for the coming year as well as a recap of the current. If the current has a material change I'll make an adjustment to the final payment (cancel/redo) and I'll set my quarterly EFTPS payments for the coming year while revisiting the escrow account periodic funding for the coming year. Set it, forget it, see you next year.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by bertilak » Tue May 16, 2017 4:53 pm

celia wrote:Why can't you know the exact dollar/penny amount? I believe our monthly mortgage statement would always have the exact outstanding balance of the loan on it.

The "exact outstanding balance" changes every day as interest is accumulated. If you pay whatever was the balance shown on your last statement you will still owe the interest accumulated since then and therefore you will get yet another statement next month.
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue May 16, 2017 5:03 pm

bertilak wrote:
celia wrote:Why can't you know the exact dollar/penny amount? I believe our monthly mortgage statement would always have the exact outstanding balance of the loan on it.

The "exact outstanding balance" changes every day as interest is accumulated. If you pay whatever was the balance shown on your last statement you will still owe the interest accumulated since then and therefore you will get yet another statement next month.


My bank allowed me to go online at anytime to get a payoff amount (included the interest 10 days out or some such thing). When you send in the payoff amount they will then refund you any overpaid interest (as the check will get their earlier than the worse case estimate).

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by bertilak » Tue May 16, 2017 5:13 pm

DaftInvestor wrote:
bertilak wrote:
celia wrote:Why can't you know the exact dollar/penny amount? I believe our monthly mortgage statement would always have the exact outstanding balance of the loan on it.

The "exact outstanding balance" changes every day as interest is accumulated. If you pay whatever was the balance shown on your last statement you will still owe the interest accumulated since then and therefore you will get yet another statement next month.


My bank allowed me to go online at anytime to get a payoff amount (included the interest 10 days out or some such thing). When you send in the payoff amount they will then refund you any overpaid interest (as the check will get their earlier than the worse case estimate).

One of my loans (car?) shows the payoff amount on a daily basis. I think I need to click on something to lock that in. Last payoff I had to call. I guess they are all different.

My mortgage is more complicated because of escrow. I also think they want to make personal contact to give them a chance to sell you on some other services.
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by wrongfunds » Tue May 16, 2017 6:04 pm

miamivice wrote:I have chosen not to pursue cancelling escrow, because escrow is convenient and rates are low. They pay my taxes and insurance on my behalf each year and I don't have to worry about paying them. Insurance is simple enough because a guy can do autopay. But taxes are a pain, and if you miss them you owe more, and if you continue to miss them you lose your home. The low cost of escrow and the guarantee that I don't miss paying taxes is worth the minimal cost right now.
I am thinking about doing the same especially since my escrow has been always higher than the P+I of the mortgage :oops: I am not sure if my mortgage company is interested in that though.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by madbrain » Tue May 16, 2017 6:09 pm

midareff wrote:FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.


In California, lenders are required to pay 2% interest on escrow accounts. So, canceling escrow is not that great of a deal.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by madbrain » Tue May 16, 2017 6:11 pm

heybro wrote:Under my state's law, I recently became eligible to cancel my escrow account.


Which state is this ? I had not heard that this was possible, if one took out a loan that requires escrow at origination time.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by Mudpuppy » Wed May 17, 2017 10:41 am

madbrain wrote:
midareff wrote:FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.


In California, lenders are required to pay 2% interest on escrow accounts. So, canceling escrow is not that great of a deal.

And my lender cuts the escrow margins to the legally required minimums to avoid having to pay out that 2% on more than is legally necessary in California. That's resulted in a few years of the account being underfunded when property taxes went up due to market prices rising. But that's legally their problem too, so not too much of a worry for me.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by Alskar » Wed May 17, 2017 12:15 pm

midareff wrote:FWIW, self escrow is wonderful. Especially when it's in an Ally 1.05% savings account.
I use my Reward Checking account that currently pays 1.75%APY on balances up to $25K to save for my enormous Oregon property tax payment. There are hoops to jump through to get this rate, but I've qualified for the highest interest rate every month for over 5 years now.

Oregon requires interest payments on escrow accounts that are on homes valued at less than $100K (I think there are at least two of them in the state at the moment) and are held by mortgage companies headquartered in Oregon. This means that in real life there is no interest paid on escrow accounts in Oregon.
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by miamivice » Thu May 18, 2017 10:30 am

Do you guys really care about the difference between 1% and 2% on maybe a $5000 revolving balance? That might be what...oh $25 a year? While I like to maximize my money, I'm really not concerned about $25 or $50 a year in interest.

If the spread was more like $500 I would be concerned...but not for $25 or $50.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by roymeo » Thu May 18, 2017 10:36 am

When purchasing, I didn't see anything pro or con enough either way so I just went forward with it.
After chasing them around for screwing up my taxes, calculating poorly, etc. money bouncing around when my loan was sold, I was ready to take care of myself when I refinanced. No problems since.
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by stan_the_man » Fri May 19, 2017 9:03 am

Judging from my own experience of legal writing correspondence and media releases, the boring letter was drafted by their legal team.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by heybro » Sat May 27, 2017 3:30 am

Update:
Last edited by heybro on Sun May 28, 2017 11:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by heybro » Sat May 27, 2017 3:31 am

stan_the_man wrote:Judging from my own experience of legal writing correspondence and media releases, the boring letter was drafted by their legal team.


Thank you for this. In other words, 'we sent this cause we had to.' hehe.

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by heybro » Sat May 27, 2017 3:33 am

Update:

I just got a letter today saying that they received my request and that they value high customer service and will have a response for me shortly.

I had written asking for the form that allows me to ASK for escrow to be canceled. They won't even send the form yet.

This is a big chore! HA!

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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by heybro » Tue May 30, 2017 4:20 pm

Does anyone know how to provide proof of taxes paid and insurance paid?

I finally got the form and it says once there is no escrow, I have to provide proof to my bank for all these payments going forward.

I ran the signed form down to the post office as fast as I could. I view this as a fight for freedom! hehe. :greedy

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Meg77
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Re: Funny Letter [Canceling Escrow Account]

Post by Meg77 » Tue May 30, 2017 4:33 pm

heybro wrote:Does anyone know how to provide proof of taxes paid and insurance paid?

I finally got the form and it says once there is no escrow, I have to provide proof to my bank for all these payments going forward.

I ran the signed form down to the post office as fast as I could. I view this as a fight for freedom! hehe. :greedy


Yes, you'll have to mail or email your declarations page from the insurance company each time you renew it to prove you have the home insured. And for taxes you can usually take a screen shot or download proof of payment from your local tax authority website.

And for what it's worth, banks do not make money by escrowing funds. In fact it costs them quite a lot to administer the payment of all those bills for all those people. They do it to ensure their collateral is protected, but it's a huge expense and definitely not a revenue center for the bank.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

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