Why is My Mortgage Payment Going Up?

If you live in the greater Seattle area, you may be receiving a notice from your mortgage servicer stating that they need to adjust your mortgage payment because of an “escrow shortage”.  We actually just received such notice from our mortgage servicer.

This is most likely do to the staggering increases many of us are seeing to real estate property taxes. Property taxes and home owners insurance are the two things that can change with your total mortgage payment. If you have an adjustable rate or interest only mortgage that is converting to principal, then your mortgage payment will change too.  However, many home owners in the greater Seattle – Bellevue – Tacoma – Everett areas with fixed rate mortgages are learning that their mortgage payments are going up…and for some it’s quite a bit higher.

Notices from the mortgage servicers are going out now as the first half of property taxes were paid from the escrow reserve account in late April. The larger amount due caused a shortage since the amount that is being collected in the monthly mortgage payment is not enough to cover the higher amount due. Mortgage services will give you options of how to make up the shortage, such as making a lump sum payment and/or increasing your monthly mortgage payment to make up for the taxes.

Part of the reason the taxes are so high is due to Washington State using home owners to resolve the McCleary case which funds public education. Combine this with higher assessed values and it’s a whopping surprise for many home owners when they receive their property tax bill and notice of escrow shortage from the mortgage company.

Mayor Durkan is hoping to pass another huge levy, in the amount of $600 million, attached to property taxes in the Seattle area to make community college free to those students who attended Seattle public high schools. She is excluding those who attended private schools (even though their parents paid for public schools with their property taxes). I have a difficult time believing the City’s math on how much this will impact the average home owner (and renter) when the numbers I’m hearing of what people are actually seeing in their tax bill and what was originally warned (17% average increase in King County) are pretty far apart. Our property taxes jumped 27.2% in one year! Some of my neighbors are seeing even higher increases. It’s really concerning to me as someone who qualifies people to buy a home. Increases this significant are enough to cause some to not be able to afford their home which can be very dicey when we are living in a region that is battling having affordable housing. It also puts those who are eyeing retirement with plans of enjoying their golden years in a tricky situation (unless they qualify for a reverse mortgage to pay for their taxes). In my opinion, we desperately need to have a cap limiting how much property taxes can increase in a year.

By the way, this doesn’t just impact home owners. If you are renting a home in the greater Seattle/King County area – don’t be surprised if your rent is increased to cover this hard cost. Actually, if you’re renting almost anywhere in Washington state and your landlord has been hit with a higher tax bill – you will most likely be feeling a pinch to your pocket book too. I have friends in Thurston County who tell me their property taxes shot up 47% in one year!

Are you considering buying or refinancing your home in Washington state? I’m happy to help you. Click here for a detailed rate quote or here to get prequalified for a mortgage.

Comments

  1. As a former accidental landlord, I resisted raising rent to my tenant (whom I personally liked) unless my actual cost went up. This tax increase would certainly qualify to raise rents with a clear conscious. I would think that “softy” landlords like I was are in the process of jacking rents closer to the local market rate.

    • I agree. People who are not “professional” landlords probably don’t want to feel mean and have a tougher time increasing rents. However, when you’ve had tax increases over and over again (and with the last one being such a large one) it makes it difficult to avoid.

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