If you're struggling financially and having trouble paying your mortgage, you may find a field inspector knocking on your door. These inspectors verify that a home remains occupied after its owners miss a mortgage payment. If you're still living in your home, the inspector won't perform an interior search. But if you've left your home behind, that inspector has the legal right to search inside your home to verify that you have indeed left the property. You may also encounter a field inspector after filing a homeowners insurance claim.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
When you miss a mortgage payment, your mortgage company will hire a field inspector to visit your home and determine if you still occupy it.
If you've fallen behind on your monthly mortgage payments -- and you haven't been answering when your mortgage lender calls -- don't be surprised to see a field inspector show up one day. Mortgage companies hire these professionals to verify that you and your family haven't left your home. If the inspector determines that you are still living in the home, he will contact your mortgage lender with this information. Your lender can then either proceed with foreclosure -- evicting you and your family from your home -- or try to work out a payment system that you can afford. This latter option would keep you and your family in your home. If the inspector determines that you have abandoned the house, he has the legal right to enter your home and perform an interior inspection.
Lenders will vary on how or if they use field inspectors in missed payment cases. If Fannie Mae owns or guarantees your loan, the field-inspector practice is far more regulated. In 2011, Fannie Mae revised its rules. Now, mortgage servicers working with Fannie Mae must order a property inspection within 45 days after homeowners miss a mortgage payment. The servicer must order property inspections every 30 days after this period until the homeowners pay up. In Fannie Mae cases, abandoned homes undergo a required interior inspection in addition to the external review. An interior inspection is allowed only in abandoned homes, however. You're not required to allow an inspector into your home if you're still living there.
The interior inspection is a key part of the field inspector's job. If you've lost your home to foreclosure, or abandoned it before the foreclosure process is complete, your lender will take over possession of your residence and sell it on the open market. Before doing this, though, your lender will need to determine its condition so that it can either make necessary repairs or price the property properly. The field inspector can tell lenders the exact problems that a home is facing.
Foreclosure isn't the only time that lenders rely on field inspectors. If lightning, wind or other natural disasters damage your home and you file a claim with your insurance company, your lender might send a field inspector out to verify the repairs. This is one way that mortgage lenders protect their interest in your home; remember, they have to take it over if you default on your mortgage payments. Lenders want to make sure, then, that the home repairs get done the right way.
Don Rafner has been writing professionally since 1992, with work published in "The Washington Post," "Chicago Tribune," "Phoenix Magazine" and several trade magazines. He is also the managing editor of "Midwest Real Estate News." He specializes in writing about mortgage lending, personal finance, business and real-estate topics. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Illinois.