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Key takeaways

  • While you can discard monthly mortgage statements, it’s important to keep all mortgage documents, such as the promissory note, deed of trust and proof of title insurance, for the life of the loan.
  • Mortgage documents can be useful when making insurance claims, determining capital gains tax liability and facing foreclosure.
  • If original mortgage documents are lost or damaged, you can often get replacements from your mortgage lender or local recorder’s office.

Getting a mortgage involves a lot of paperwork, from the stack of documents you’ll get at closing to the statements your lender will send each month. You might be wondering how long to keep these statements and other mortgage papers and if you need to keep every single one — especially in our digital age. Here’s what to know about how long to keep mortgage statements and other home-related documents.

How long should you keep mortgage statements?

Once you begin making monthly mortgage payments, you should receive mortgage statements by mail, email or uploaded to an online account from your lender or servicer. Mortgage statements have a short shelf life, so you can destroy or shred them whenever you choose.

“Since the information contained on monthly statements is always changing, there’s no need to keep them for any prolonged period of time if you don’t want to,” says Than Merrill, CEO of FortuneBuilders, a real estate investor coaching firm. Those documents can go fairly soon — or even immediately if you can access them online. At most, you might keep one on hand in case you need to provide proof of your mortgage details or home address.

There are other mortgage documents you can let go of fairly soon. “The agent’s agreement and addendum documents can be discarded after as little as three years, since the statute of limitations for IRS auditing is up to that time,” says real estate investor Warner Quiroga, president and owner of Prestige Home Buyers in Long Island, New York. While Quiroga recommends tossing the home inspection report, too, other authorities recommend keeping it so you have proof of the home’s condition when you purchased it.

But many experts advise holding onto certain mortgage documents, such as the mortgage note, for the life of your loan or beyond, or at least until you sell your home.

Even if you pay off your mortgage, it is a smart idea to keep the paperwork. Once you sell and there are no future tax implications associated with the sale of that property, your paperwork may be discarded. — Roselina D’Annucci, a New York-based attorney with Serrano & Associates PC

What information your mortgage statements contain

Your mortgage statements may include details such as:

  • Upcoming payment information: You’ll be able to see the amount of your next mortgage payment, with a breakdown of how much is going toward the principal and interest. Your escrow account (for homeowners insurance and property taxes) and fee totals will be listed as well.
  • Loan and account details: Your statement will include basic loan information, including your account number and your property’s address. You should also see the outstanding balance on your mortgage, your current interest rate and maturity date (when your loan will be completely paid off). If there’s a prepayment penalty on your mortgage, you might see that, as well.
  • Transaction history: Like a bank statement, this section will show any charges and payments you’ve made since the last billing cycle.
  • Past payment breakdown: Here, you’ll get a glimpse of the progress you’ve made on your mortgage balance. It can include the amount you paid last month and the total so far this year.
  • Contact information: This section highlights options for getting in touch with your loan servicer.

Other important documents you receive when buying a home

When you buy a home, you’ll receive several important documents, including:

  • Deed The deed indicates your ownership of the home and is signed by you and the seller. “The main job of a deed is to move the legal rights of a property from one person or business to another,” says Quiroga.
  • Promissory note (mortgage note) – This is the legal contract, in which you promise to repay the debt you took on with interest and agree the home is collateral for the debt. “Some states use a document called a deed of trust for this,” says Quiroga.
  • Purchase agreement or contract – Signed by both you and seller, this document typically includes the price paid for the home, closing date and other essential details.
  • Home inspection report This is a detailed report from a professional home inspector with notes indicating your home’s condition, including possible issues.
  • Closing disclosure – “This form summarizes the final details of your mortgage loan and the property sale,” says Quiroga. “It tells you things like the amount, length and type of your loan, the interest rate, the overall costs and the escrow fees.”
  • Seller disclosure document – This spells out other details about the home that the seller is aware of. “It tells you about the condition of the house and any known problems that might influence its value or safety,” such as structural defects or hazards like asbestos or lead paint, says Quiroga.
  • Title insurance document – This document from the settlement or title company includes information about your title insurance policy, which protects the lender (and you, if you opt for this coverage) from issues with the property’s title.
  • Addendum and amendments – These documents specify any alterations or changes not present in the original purchase and sale agreement (signed when your home offer was accepted).
  • Buyer’s agent agreement – “This piece of paper is a contract between you and your real estate agent,” says Quiroga. “It usually explains how the agent will work for you and how they will be paid.”

Which mortgage statements are most important to keep?

While you can get rid of your monthly mortgage statements, there are some other documents that you should keep as long as you own the home. These include:

  • Deed: “Above all, never throw away or remove the deed to your home, as this is by far the most important document to keep,” says Leonard Ang, CEO of iPropertyManagement, an online resource for landlords, tenants and real estate investors. The deed proves that you own your home. If you sell your property, you’ll need to transfer the deed to the new owner.
  • Purchase agreement and seller’s disclosures: These documents have certain details about your home’s condition. If any issues develop with your home, you can check to see if the problems were outlined here.
  • Closing documents, including the closing disclosure, deed of trust or mortgage note: These are important to keep because they outline the financial and legal agreements of the transaction, including the terms and costs of your loan and repayment obligation.
  • Home inspection report and home warranty: Because it contains specifics about the state of your home, the home inspection report may come in handy for future maintenance or renovation/remodeling projects. Similarly, if you have a home warranty, it will detail what’s covered under your policy, which you’ll want to check before replacing any appliances or home systems. “A homeowner should indefinitely hold onto any documents that detail the state of the home,” says Merrill. “While they may not sound necessary to keep at first, there’s always the chance they will come in handy in the future.”
  • Property survey: This document shows your property lines, which is useful if you want to build on your land.

You might wonder, “What documents do I need to keep after paying off the mortgage?” Generally, it’s a good idea to keep everything cited here until you part with the property, even if it pertains to a loan you’ve fully settled.

Why is it important to keep mortgage documents?

Now that we’ve given you an overview of how long to keep mortgage documents, here are some reasons why it’s important to keep them:

  • If a title, insurance, tax or legal question arises, your mortgage paperwork can prove invaluable. “For instance, your homeowners insurance agent may request some of this paperwork, particularly if there is an insurance claim involved,” says Ang.
  • If your mortgage lender never filed a satisfaction of mortgage with the local recording office when you paid off your loan, your mortgage documents could save you from a dispute during a future home sale.
  • If you ever face foreclosure, you might need these documents to prove your ownership of the property.

Other reasons you might need your mortgage statements include determining your capital gains tax liability, preparing for a major remodeling project and having documentation in case you get audited.

The lesson here? “Keep everything,” says D’Annucci. “You never know what challenges you may face in the future that your carefully preserved paperwork can help resolve.”

What is the best way to store mortgage paperwork?

Ideally, you should store original paper mortgage documents within a fireproof and waterproof safe in your home or in a safe deposit box at your bank. At the very least, store paper documents in a filing cabinet that you can lock. “Try to organize your papers in a binder or folder,” says Ang. “Chronological order may be most helpful, with indicator tabs showing the month and year.”

It’s also smart to keep a digital copy of your mortgage documents in cloud-based storage or on a hard drive. “Just be aware that a hard drive can be lost, and cloud-based storage can be hacked,” says Quiroga. “Plus, digital copies can be altered. That’s why holding onto the original paperwork is wise.”

If you decide to discard any of these documents, don’t simply toss them in the trash. “All sensitive content should first be removed before discarding, including your account numbers, Social Security number and date of birth that can be redacted by using a redaction pen or stamp,” says D’Annucci.

After that, you can either thoroughly shred or completely burn the paperwork.

What to do if your mortgage documents are lost or damaged

Lastly, if you’ve lost or damaged any original mortgage documents, don’t despair. You may have options to retrieve them or get replacements, says Gabriel Freitas, broker/owner at Voyant Realty in Andover, Mass.

However, he advises homeowners to keep a close eye on the “original note from a closing package, as well as any discharges when mortgages are refinanced or paid off.”

“Other documents can be obtained if you lose them, but those two are the ones you might need most, so having them handy is a good idea,” he says.

Many companies that participate in real estate transactions — like lenders and title companies — keep this type of paperwork on file. If, for some reason, you need a physical copy of a particular document, the company that was involved in that part of the deal, or your local recorder’s office, may be able to send you a replacement.

FAQ about keeping mortgage documents

  • While there’s no requirement for how long to keep mortgage statements after a loved one dies, it’s a good idea to keep them for at least three years. You can store them in a secure spot, such as in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box. For added security, consider making digital copies.
  • Keep your mortgage documents and related home sale records for at least seven years after selling your home. This includes proof of mortgage payoff, the closing statement and receipts for capital improvements.
  • It’s a good idea to hold onto refinance paperwork for a minimum of three years and up to 10 years for reference in case of statement errors or unexpected changes in your interest rate or payments.