Which mortgage documents need backups?
July 4, 2010 3:24 PM   Subscribe

Which mortgage/refi documents should have a backup copy?

I've got a huge set full of documents from when I bought my house several years ago. My original mortgage traded hands a few times due to bank mergers and refinancing, so I've got even more paperwork now.

While I have room to keep the paper copies indefinitely, the paper copies would be lost in case of fire, tornado or flooding.

It's impractical — and probably a waste of time — to scan them all, but are there any specific documents that are important and can't easily be replaced?
posted by tomwheeler to Home & Garden (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What I have done (forty years ago) is to buy a fireproof safe that is about 250 pounds in weight. It fits in my closet and has traveled with us from house to house. I keep all of my important papers in it assuming that it would survive any disaster that I would survive and would be accessible on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

I would keep all of the papers you mentioned above in it. I go through it about every five years and weed out the things that are no longer important like expired passports, employment contracts for jobs I no longer hold, etc.
posted by Old Geezer at 6:14 PM on July 4, 2010

I do refinances with banks all the time. I don't know where you are (so I don't know exactly what documents you might have after a refi), here's what I would recommend keeping (based on New York State, which is where I am)-

If you have what's called an "Abstract of Title" - in New York, at least, it's a sheaf of legal-sized paper, usually held together with paper fasteners, that is a listing of the history of the property on which the house is located, going from owner to owner - DO NOT THROW THIS OUT EVER. EVER EVER EVER. Keep this in a safe, safe, safe-ety safe place. When you go to sell the house, you will need to provide this to be updated, and if it's gone, it's several hundred dollars to replace.

Any survey you may have received, especially if it shows things that weren't original to the property (sheds, decks, pools, etc.) Also any permits or certificates of occupancy that might have come along with the building of those things.

When you refinanced your house, if you went through a new bank, the mortgage you took out originally had to be paid off. Any paperwork you've got relating to that (a payoff statement for the original mortgage, a copy of any payoff checks, anything that might be called a "Satisfaction of Mortgage" or "Discharge of Mortgage" - keep that.

Anything you might have received that indicates the paper trail of mortgages through the mergers and payoffs, you should keep.

Those are really, in my experience helping people refinance their property, the most important things to keep - the abstract, the survey and any mortgage discharge/assignment documentation. Beyond that, I would keep any documentation relevant to the mortgage currently on the property. Documentation for old mortgages that have been paid off and discharged properly in the official recording office, you don't necessarily need to keep.
posted by Lucinda at 8:39 PM on July 4, 2010

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