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Can a Bank Sell Your Loan?

Yes, a bank can sell your loan. This involves transferring the legal rights and obligations of your loan contract to another institution or investor. The original bank sells the right to collect payments and interest from you to another entity. This process does not change the key terms and conditions of your original loan contract without your consent.

This does not necessarily mean that your relationship with your original lender is over. Often, the servicing of your loan (i.e. collecting payments, processing paperwork, etc.) still continues to be handled by the original bank even after they sell the loan itself. However, the new owner of the loan now has legal claim to the principal and interest payments.

Two people calculating a loan

Why Do Banks Sell Loans?

There are a few key reasons why banks commonly choose to sell mortgagesand other loans:

  • To raise capital – By selling their loans, banks can quickly gain secondary market capital that they can use to issue new loans. This helps increase their lending capacity.
  • To reduce risk – The loans are essentially assets that carry risk to the bank. Selling them allows the bank to pass on that risk to whoever buys the loans.
  • To earn fees – Banks make money by charging fees for servicing the loans they sell. So even if they no longer own the loan, they still generate income from servicing activities.
  • To meet regulatory requirements – Bank regulations often require varied assets and capital reserves. Selling loans helps banks adjust their portfolios.

How Is the Sale of a Loan Carried Out?

The sale and transfer of loans involves a systematic legal process, usually facilitated by attorneys representing both the selling and purchasing parties. Here is a general overview:

  • Mortgage investors, such as other banks, hedge funds, etc., make offers to purchase pools of loans meeting certain criteria from the selling bank. 
  • The selling bank conducts due diligence on the loans being sold to verify they meet the investor’s specifications.
  • Purchase and sale agreements are drafted and executed by both parties’ legal teams. 
  • Required loan documentation and records are transferred to the purchasing investor.
  • Legal notice is provided to the borrowers that their loans have been acquired by the new entity.
  • Any necessary changes are made to loan servicing arrangements, payment procedures, account management, etc.

What Are the Implications for Borrowers When Their Loan Is Sold?

When your mortgage or other loan is sold to another financial institution or investor, there can be several important implications:

1. Changes in Terms and Conditions

The new owner of your loan cannot change the key terms and conditions outlined in your original loan contract without your consent. This includes your interest rate, loan balance, payment amount, etc. However, they may change certain policies, fees, or practices that are not contractual.

2. Changes in Payment Procedures

You will likely need to start sending your payments to a new address after your loan is transferred. Automatic payments may also need to be re-set up. Your new servicer will provide instructions on where and how to make payments.

3. Impact on Credit Score

Your credit score should not be directly impacted by your bank selling your loan. As long as payments continue to be made on time, your credit record will be unaffected. However, if there are mistakes or confusion during the transition, it could temporarily ding your score.

4. Potential for Errors or Miscommunication

When servicing duties change hands, there is potential for misapplied payments, incorrect account information, confusing communications, etc. Check your account statements diligently for any errors after a loan sale.

5. Possibility of Dealing with Unfamiliar or Less Reputable Companies

In rare cases, your loan may end up being managed by a company with less experience or reputability than your original lender. This could mean worse customer service, frustration, or other issues dealing with your new servicer. 

What Rights Do Borrowers Have When Their Loan Is Sold?

Importantly, certain consumer rights and protections remain in place even if your loan changes hands:

  • Your original loan terms are still legally valid and must be honored.
  • You still have the right to appeal any errors in your account or servicing activities.
  • You cannot be charged extra fees solely as a result of your loan being sold.
  • Your new servicer is still subject to federal and state lending laws and regulations. 
  • You have the right to have your complaints reviewed by the appropriate regulatory agencies.

How Can You Protect Yourself If Your Loan Is Sold?

  • Carefully review any notices about the sale and check for any account changes. 
  • Ensure your new servicer has your current contact information and payment preferences.
  • Save records from your original lender in case you need them later.
  • Ask for written confirmation from the new owner of all your loan details and terms.
  • Setup automatic payments or online account access to avoid any gaps in payment.
  • Monitor your credit report to check for errors stemming from the loan transfer.

What to Do If You Have Problems with the New Servicer of Your Loan?

If you run into issues like processing delays, payment issues, fees, or billing problems with your new servicer, here are some steps to take:

  • Start by contacting the servicer directly to resolve the problems – ask for supervisors if needed.
  • Check federal sites like the CFPB and FTC for advice on dealing with mortgage servicers. 
  • Submit written complaints to appropriate regulatory agencies if issues are unresolved.
  • Contact housing counselors and legal aid if the problems threaten your home.
  • Notify the original lender – they may be able to intervene or assist.
  • As a last resort, seek legal counsel about any breach of contract or violation of law.

Can You Prevent Your Bank from Selling Your Loan?

In most cases, your original lender has the right to sell your loan per the original loan contract you agreed to. However, there are a couple rare scenarios where you may be able to prevent or contest a loan sale:

  • If you can prove the sale somehow violates the terms of your loan agreement, you may be able to legally challenge it. 
  • For certain government-backed loans, you may be able to appeal to the government agency for help blocking a sale if there are problems or risks for you as a borrower.
  • Refinancing your loan with another lender would essentially pay off and replace your existing loan, preventing it from being sold in the future.
  • Defaulting on your loan could deter certain investors from wanting to buy it, though that has serious negative consequences.

Understanding Mortgage Servicing Rights (MSRs)

Separately from the loan ownership itself, banks can also sell the servicing rights to the mortgage or loan. This transfers the administrative duties while the bank still retains legal claim to the repayments. The buyer becomes a “subservicer.” This market for mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) adds further complexity to the loan ecosystem.

The Role of Federal and State Laws in Regulating the Sale of Loans

The sale of loans by banks is governed by various regulations like the Truth in Lending Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, and others which aim to protect consumers during loan transfers. State laws also add extra protections against problems like predatory lending or mortgage servicing abuse when loans change ownership. Banks are still subject to applicable federal and state laws when they sell loans to other institutions.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Why would a bank sell your loan?

A bank may sell a loan for several reasons, including to diversify its portfolio, reduce risk, or generate cash. Banks may also sell loans to free up capital that can be used to make new loans. In some cases, a bank may sell a loan in order to reduce its exposure to the borrower or to transfer the servicing of the loan to a third-party.

What happens when a bank sells a loan?

When a bank sells a loan, it transfers the legal rights to receive payments from the borrower to the loan purchaser. The loan purchaser then becomes the new owner of the loan and is responsible for collecting payments from the borrower. The bank typically sells the loan to increase liquidity and reduce the risk of default.

Does it matter if your loan is sold?

Yes, it matters if your loan is sold. When a loan is sold, the loan servicing rights transfer to the new loan servicer, which can affect the borrower’s experience. Borrowers should be aware of the terms of their loan and the potential impact of loan sales on their loan servicing, payment options, and customer service.

Can a bank change the terms of a mortgage?

Yes, a bank can change the terms of a mortgage. Banks may modify the terms of a mortgage to accommodate a borrower’s changing financial needs. This could include extending the loan term, changing the interest rate, or adjusting the payment amount.