Any buyer or homeowner using an FHA loan to purchase or refinance a home will have a number assigned during the FHA mortgage process. If closed, this number will follow the loan for the entire life of the loan. In order to track these loans, every FHA loan is assigned a unique, 10-digit number called an FHA case number or ID. Although, do not confuse this with the lender’s account number. They are not the same thing. The account number would change if ever transferred to another lender. Yet, the FHA case number stays the same for the life of the FHA loan.
Most FHA borrowers are not aware that the FHA case ID even exists. It isn’t the most exciting topic in the world. Although, it becomes a pretty popular and beneficial topic during an FHA transfer or an FHA streamline refinance.
Most Popular FHA Case Number Uses
- Transfer an FHA borrower file to another lender
- FHA appraisal transfer
- Transfer an FHA case ID to another buyer
- FHA to FHA streamline appraisal
- FHA Funding Fee Refund
So, we are talking about potentially saving money on a streamlined refinance, a refund credit, or move to another lender to get the deal done. Let’s dig in!
What is the Purpose of the FHA Case Number?
First of all, the case number is assigned to a loan through a processed simply called a case number assignment. The case number is requested by an FHA lender through a system called the FHA Connection. FHA Connection creates and stores a record for every single FHA loan. Thus, making it easier for lenders and FHA to track the loan.
Keep in mind that sometimes an FHA case number does not make it to closing. So, it may get completely canceled or it may be transferred to another buyer. We will discuss these important scenarios in a minute.
Where Do I Find My FHA Loan Case Number?
It is entirely possible that an FHA borrower may never know or care about their FHA case ID. But, when one of these instances happen that we mentioned above, it helps to know where to find it. Hopefully, a borrower has stored their mortgage paperwork somewhere safe for quick access. Once this paperwork is located, the FHA case number should be found in at least 2 key places.
FHA Closing Paperwork
Depending on when the loan was closed, the final accounting of the numbers at closing are shown on one or more settlement papers. This form is called either a HUD settlement statement or a closing disclosure. For FHA and most other loan types, the closing disclosure took over for loans that started October 2015. Prior to this date, lenders and settlement agents used the HUD settlement statement for FHA closings. If your loan closed during this transition period, it is possible either could have been used.
Another place to find this key FHA number is on the mortgage or deed of trust. They are basically the same thing, yet some states this security instrument a mortgage while other states use the deed of trust. Additionally, the case number may be located at the top of the FHA promissory note. It may be called promissory note, fixed rate note, or just plain old note. No matter which form it is, the case number is typically found right at the top of the first page.
The FHA Appraisal
Another location of the FHA case ID is on the FHA appraisal. On a purchase or regular refinance (not FHA streamline without appraisal), the appraisal request by the lender must be preceded by requesting the case number assignment. So, the number has to be on the FHA appraisal.
So, if a scenario comes up where finding the case number could be beneficial, check one of these documents. But, if you come up empty, reach out to your closing attorney / settlement company, mortgage lender, or appraiser.
FHA Loan Transfer to Another Lender
Sometimes during a purchase or refinance process, issues arise that may warrant changing FHA lenders. Maybe the lender is non-responsive, slow, guidelines are too strict, or maybe does not like the appraisal. In these cases or others, a borrower may choose to have their FHA loan transferred to another lender. These days the FHA transfer process is pretty simple and does not cause undue stress on the borrower. The borrower simply needs to make a request for the prior lender to transfer the FHA case number to lender X (Maybe OVM?). The prior lender must transfer the loan and the FHA appraisal. Therefore, the FHA loan and appraisal transfer is a simple one.
One area to keep in mind is that if the preceding lender noted in FHA connection that the borrower’s loan was denied, the new lender must address this denial. Basically, the new lender must be able to fit the loan within their FHA guidelines and ensure that the loan now meets requirements.
FHA Appraisal Transfer
As mentioned above, when an FHA file is moved to a new lender, the appraisal must be provided as well. Thus, the new lender has access to the original appraisal. The new lender is responsible to ensure the appraiser has been paid for the appraisal too. Although,today most lenders require appraisal payment up-front from borrowers and the appraiser is paid right away. A far cry from the old days when appraisers had to hunt down lenders for payment.
When the appraisal is transferred, the same FHA case number follows it and the loan. Once transferred, the transfer is noted in the FHA Connection system.
Transfer an FHA Appraisal to a New Buyer
Sometimes an FHA appraisal has recently been performed on a property for another buyer, but it did not close for some reason. Another buyer using an FHA loan may use the same FHA appraisal which saves time when it comes to closing. Alternatively, a prior low appraisal or appraisal showing condition issues must be used up to 120 days from the original appraisal date. Therefore, this could be a buyer benefit or problem. Although, if using a different type loan like VA, USDA, or conventional, the FHA appraisal does not have to be used. If this case happens, consult with your mortgage lender.
The Role of an FHA Case Number in an FHA Streamline Refinance
Homeowners with an existing FHA loan may benefit from a drop in interest rates. When interest rates drop enough where it makes sense for a homeowner to consider a refinance, an FHA streamline refinance could be in play. Keep in mind, only homeowners with an existing FHA loan may use this refinance product. There are several benefits besides an interest rate and/or payment reduction. The streamlined process allows some borrowers the potential of not proving income. Another feature waives the FHA appraisal requirement. When this is chosen, the value assigned to the case number in FHA connection is used to calculate the maximum loan amount. Finally, the value stated in FHA connection may be enough to reduce the monthly FHA mortgage insurance. Thus, another potential small monthly savings.
FHA MIP Refund
Another reason the FHA case file number is used would be in the case of an FHA to FHA refinance. If a borrower refinances their current FHA loan to another FHA loan within the first 3 years, a credit is applied towards the mortgage insurance premium on the new loan. Since the financed MIP, also called FHA funding fee, is 1.75% of the loan amount, every little refund could help. The new FHA lender will use the FHA refund schedule to calculate the amount of the refund credit.