No, it’s not what you think…
Each October, on the anniversary of my mortgage, Countrywide runs an escrow analysis to ensure that they’ve put enough of my monthly payments aside to pay for things like city property taxes and the premium on my homeowners insurance.
This past October was no different, in that they did an escrow analysis. Totally expected.
Unfortunately, the results weren’t in my favor like they have been in the past — not sure why I didn’t mention it back in October…
Anyway, the short of it is that my monthly mortgage payment increased $78 — due entirely to the assessment done on my house in 2007 which resulted in an increase in my tax bill. Lucky break for the city, you know, doing a city-wide assessments when the market was at it’s all time high…
Anyway, not that big of a deal, I mean, I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s just a little bit of an annoyance knowing that another $78/month (or $936/year) isn’t hitting the principle. Whatever — it’s not the end of the world.
It’s like I’m paying the cable bill twice or something.
The last time my payment went *way* up, the following October I received a check from Countrywide. It was an escrow overage check. Somewhere along the line, numbers were incorrect and they were collecting too much from me for an entire year.
While the check was a pleasant surprise, I was a little bothered by the fact that they had continued to over-collect for, well, 11 months when my property taxes hadn’t increased enough to justify the bill hike and my insurance premium had remained steady.
Though they paid me back, with interest, I still felt a like I’d been ripped off.
I just chalked it up as something where, once they do their escrow analysis, that’s your payment, set in stone, for the next calendar year. I dealt with it.
So this year, when I caught wind that my payment was going up, but knowing that I was going to be switching my homeowners insurance (and lowering the premium paid from escrow), I was a little ticked off.
Terrible planning on my part. I couldn’t believe I’d overlooked this…
My mortgage payment was supposed to go down this year, not up!
I paid the November mortgage bill. And the December bill.
But then when Countrywide paid my homeowners insurance premium when I’d asked them not so, I saw an opportunity to do something about making sure that my payments wouldn’t go up again next year — or ever, barring any tax hikes.
I wanted to pay my insurance premium myself — take over the responsibility from Countrywide and, in turn, lower my monthly mortgage bill.
I went back to their online customer service page, where I’ve had so much success in the past. Not.
Here’s the message I sent:
I sent a message yesterday asking Countrywide NOT to send out the premium payment for my new homeowners insurance, but today I noticed that my transaction history has been updated and the payment has already been sent (dated Tuesday).
That’s fine — I’ll call them and have them accept Countrywide’s payment instead of mine.
In the future, next year, I’d prefer to pay the premium myself instead of having it built into my escrow account through Countrywide. How would I go about changing that so that this double payment scenario doesn’t happen again?
And here was their (prompt!) response:
Thank you for your recent Internet inquiry addressed to the Customer Service Department.
Our records reflect that we did not receive an e-mail from you in November 2008, the last e-mail received from you was on September 22, 2008. This is to confirm that your insurance information has been updated with an annual premium of $633.00, effective from November 11, 2008 to November 11, 2009. A payment has been disbursed from your escrow account to your insurance company for $633.00 on November 18, 2008.
As per your e-mail we have reviewed your account, your loan meets all the criteria for the deletion of insurance from the escrow account. We have hence deleted insurance from your escrow account as you asked. We have analyzed your escrow account on November 20, 2008,your monthly payment effective January 01, 2009 will be $1,226.7. An Escrow Review Statement has been generated and will be mailed to you, please allow approximately 7-14 days for receipt via U.S. mail.
We have provided a breakdown of your monthly installment, which will be effective with your January 2009 payment:
Principal and Interest Payment : $817.27
City Taxes ($1,912.09 semi-annually divided by 12) : $318.68
P.M.I contribution monthly : $85.15
Reserve 16.60% : $5.27
Total Monthly Payment : $1,226.37
The Reserve item is an amount equal to 16.60% of the total amount of your escrow payment for the year that is collected each month. The Reserve amount is collected to ensure that the account has sufficient funds in the event that your tax and/or insurance bills increase. When we analyze your escrow account we will adjust the reserve amount based on the actual bills paid.
Thank you for communicating with us electronically, we appreciate the opportunity to be of assistance.
Hmmmmmm… I love that they mentioned September 22. Too funny.
The PMI line still irks me, but what can you do?
And really, I’d love to know what “criteria” my loan met for the deletion of insurance from the escrow account. I never could get an answer on what criteria I had to meet to drop PMI…
In the end, though, I got what I wanted (a lower payment — lowest since 2004!) and earlier than I’d expected, so that puts a smile on my face.