Paying Off a Mortgage Is Easy, But Do You Really Want To?
Washington Post (11/24/01) p.H6; Kass, Benny L.

Before paying off a mortgage in full, homeowners should decide if doing so is in their best interest. Often, consumers may not owe money on their home but are unable to afford the insurance, taxes, maintenance, or other costs; in some cases, continuing to pay a mortgage is beneficial because the tax-deductible interest can be used to offset these expenses. However, if an owner decides to forge ahead and pay off the debt, the process is fairly simple. First, the homeowner should get a written statement from the lender of the exact amount owed and submit that amount in full. If money for real estate taxes and interest has been escrowed by the lender, the borrower should determine whether the lender will credit the escrow amount to the outstanding balance or provide the owner with a refund check after the mortgage is paid. The owner also should ensure that both the original signed promissory note and the deed of trust are returned to him or her after the final payment is made. Finally, the paid mortgage must be released from the land records, especially if the property is to be sold or refinanced. For no more than $250, an attorney can help prepare the release. Lastly, homeowners should refrain from burning the mortgage until proof of the legal release is in their possession.

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