Impound accounts, also known as escrow accounts, play a key role in the world of real estate investing. These specialized accounts provide a structured approach to handling property-related costs like insurance and taxes. However, many real estate investors, particularly those new to the industry, have questions about impound accounts. This article seeks to demystify impound accounts by addressing some of the most frequently asked questions.
One common question revolves around the definition of an impound account. In simple terms, an impound account is a special account established by your mortgage lender to handle certain property expenses on your behalf. These expenses typically encompass property taxes, homeowners insurance, and sometimes private mortgage insurance. The account is funded through a portion of your monthly mortgage payment.
Another often asked question is the necessity of impound accounts. Lenders create impound accounts primarily to protect their investment. By ensuring that taxes and insurance are paid promptly, lenders mitigate the risk of tax liens or uninsured losses. For investors, impound accounts offer the convenience of automatic payments, eliminating the need to separately track and manage these expenses.
A frequently asked question is whether impound accounts are mandatory. The requirement for an impound account varies depending on the lender and loan type. While some lenders mandate impound accounts for all their loans, others only necessitate them for loans with a high loan-to-value ratio. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) loans generally require impound accounts, regardless of the loan-to-value ratio.
The management of impound account funds is another aspect of interest. Each month, a portion of your mortgage payment is set aside for the impound account. When property taxes and insurance premiums become due, the funds in the account are used by your lender to pay these bills on your behalf. It is important to note that lenders are obligated by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) to provide an annual statement that outlines the activity in your impound account.
Lastly, a question arises regarding the fate of the impound account upon mortgage repayment. Once the mortgage is fully paid off, you have the option to close the impound account. Any remaining funds in the account will be returned to you. Consequently, you will become responsible for directly managing and paying your property taxes and insurance premiums.
In summary, impound accounts serve a crucial function in the realm of real estate investing. They provide a streamlined approach to property-related expenses, safeguard the lender’s interests, and offer convenience to investors. Understanding the inner workings of these accounts can greatly enhance your real estate investing experience and ensure you are well-prepared to manage your financial obligations associated with owning a property.