We would suggest you call the bank and ask for the lien release department. Your mortgage loan statement — or the last statement you have from them — will have your loan account number and the toll-free number to call with loan questions.
Once you get through to that servicing number, you can go through the phone prompts and determine which one gets you to the right department. Frequently, you will hear a prompt for demand or payoff letters. You can start there and speak with a representative.
Once you get a real, live person, you can ask to speak to someone in the lien release department. You can explain that your loan is paid in full and you are looking to find the release of lien on your mortgage. They may also call it the mortgage release or satisfaction of mortgage.
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If they tell you that the document was filed or recorded with your local recorder of deeds or other office that handles real estate documents, you might have to check if the document was filed or recorded. If the document was filed or recorded, you can get a copy from the recorder’s office or the office that handles the filing of documents. You might even find that document online through that same office’s website.
Sometimes borrowers look at the websites and can't find the document, or the lender never filed or recorded the document. Some lenders mail the document to the borrower and leave it to the borrower to record or file the release document. Some borrowers get the documents, don't realize what they have received and throw those documents out. In these cases, the lender will prepare a new document and send it out to you. Once you receive it, you will need to have that document recorded or filed.
Having told you all that, you should check your files and see whether you got those documents back from the lender. The lender should have also sent you the canceled note and the canceled mortgage or deed of trust. While it would be best to have those canceled documents, if you don’t have them but the release is recorded or filed and you have a final statement that shows that the loan has been paid in full, you should be fine.
One additional piece of information: If you check your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com, you can see what outstanding liabilities you have, including what loans have been paid in full. In your credit report you should see an account with the bank showing the original amount of your loan. You will also see that the balance on the account will show a zero, and there should be a note on that account that states that the account is paid as agreed.
Ilyce Glink is the author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask” (4th Edition). She is also the CEO of Best Money Moves, an app that employers provide to employees to measure and dial down financial stress. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact Ilyce and Sam through her website, ThinkGlink.com.