What Does It Mean To Escrow Taxes And Insurance?

Escrow schedulingThe fiscal responsibility of a homeowner in the Inland Empire and everywhere else, extends beyond the mortgage’s basic principal and interest repayments.  Homeowners are also responsible for the real estate taxes on the home and its insurance premiums, too.

Failure to pay taxes can lead to foreclosure, and failure to insure is breach of your mortgage contract.

As a homeowner, you may have a choice about how you manage your real estate tax and insurance bills.  With a Conventional loan (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) you can choose to pay them from your own bank account when the bills come due, or you can choose to pay 1/12 of the annual bill to your mortgage servicer each month, and then let your servicer pay the bills on your behalf when they come due.  If purchasing your home with an FHA, VA, or USDA loan program, escrowing your property taxes and fire/hazard homeowner insurance is not an option.

Not surprisingly, servicers prefer the latter method — it reduces two major lender risks:

  1. That the home’s real estate taxes go delinquent and are sold to a third-party
  2. That the home endures catastrophic damage during a lapse of insurance coverage

In theory, when the servicer is paying the bills, the home’s taxes are always current and the home’s insurance is always paid.  This method of managing taxes and insurance is commonly called “escrowing”.

To calculate a home’s monthly escrow payment is simple. Just take the sum of the annual real estate tax bills and insurance bill, then divide it by 12 months in the year.

As a example, a $4,000 annual tax bill with a $800 insurance policy = $4,800 annually = $400 paid into escrow monthly.  These monies are collected as part of the regular mortgage payment along with the mortgage’s scheduled principal + interest payment.  Lenders are allowed to collect and hold up to three months in your escrow account.

Homeowners choosing to escrow tend to get the lowest rate, lowest fee loans.  This is because lenders often charge a premium to “waive escrow” (i.e. pay their own taxes and insurance).  Escrow waiver fees vary between banks, but can range up to half-percent of the amount borrowed.  The larger the loan, the stiffer the penalty in dollar terms.

Choosing to waive escrow can also raise your mortgage rate or fees by up to 0.250 percent.  The collection of monies to build an impound account when purchasing a home can increase the funds required to close your transaction by several thousand dollars.

If you’re unsure whether escrowing is an option or right for you, call me @ (951) 215-6119 or brad(at)homeloanartist.com. There’s good reason to go either route depending on your profile.

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2 Responses to What Does It Mean To Escrow Taxes And Insurance?

  1. A.A. January 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    Hello Mr Brad Yzermans, we bought a different homeowners insurance since our current insurance premium is increased by the insurance company.We found a cheaper insurance with the same coverage limits and we bought it.

    We have USDA direct loan, how do we inform the current insurance company, USDA? Do we have to? We chose billing to the mortgage company as the method of payment. Thanks.

  2. Brad Yzermans January 27, 2011 at 8:01 pm #


    You need to call your servicer, the company you make your payment to, and give them a copy of the insurance policy. They will explain what their policy is.

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