1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. Mortgage Basics
  4. What in the World Is an Escrow Shortage?
Exterior of house with landscape.If you’re like a majority of homeowners today, you have a mortgage with an escrow account. And like most of those homeowners, you understand the basics of escrow, but when it comes to shortages and overages, it can be difficult to keep it all straight.

As a quick refresher, an escrow account is an account that holds the funds you need to pay your property taxes and homeowners insurance. It’s not an account that you manage directly. It’s simply a holding account that contains the funds you pay every month to ensure your taxes and insurance bills are paid.

By consolidating these payments into your monthly mortgage payment, you only have to worry about one bill rather than several bills all due at different times. We help you by making sure you have enough money in your account to cover your bills; then when they’re due, we pay them on your behalf. It’s a service that is designed to make your life easier.

So where does that money come from? It comes directly from your monthly mortgage payment. When you’re looking at your payment amount, it’s helpful to view the payment as two categories – one for principal and interest (the amount that goes toward paying off your home loan) and the other for property tax/homeowners insurance. How much of the money you pay that goes to your escrow account is determined by your yearly escrow analysis. The difficulty comes when trying to accurately estimate or predict the amount of taxes that will be required of you in the coming year.

Sometimes it’s overestimated, but often it’s underestimated. That’s where the escrow shortage appears. The most common reason for a shortage – or an increase in your payments – is an increase in your property taxes.

For example, if you buy a home that was built for you, your initial tax assessment will more than likely only consider the land value of the home. But once the property is assessed again, it will include the land value PLUS the value of your home. As a result, your property taxes will increase and so will your escrow payment. Which means, ultimately, your monthly mortgage payment will increase.

In other words, an escrow shortage is the result of not having enough money in your escrow account to cover the actual amount needed to pay your bills. It sounds as simple as it is.

Here’s another example:

If your annual tax payment is projected to be $2,400, $200 goes to your escrow account every month. ($2,400 divided by 12 months in a year). If your projected insurance amount is $1,200, $100 goes to escrow every month.

So if you have a $1,200 monthly mortgage payment, $900 goes toward your principal and interest, while the remaining $300 goes toward your escrow account every month.

However, at the time of your escrow analysis, let’s say that your taxes have been assessed and they have increased from the amount we thought they would be during last year’s analysis. The actual amount comes in at $3,000 for taxes and $1,600 for homeowners insurance – that’s a difference of $1,000.

TAXES: $2,400 – escrow analysis prediction

$3,000 – Actual

-$600 Difference

INSURANCE: $1,200 – escrow analysis prediction

$1,600 – actual

– $400 difference

Total shortage: -$1,000 for the tax/insurance bill.

At this point, you’re responsible for the $1,000 required to make up the total amount due for your taxes and insurance. Additionally, you’ll notice an increase in your monthly mortgage payment. The reason for this increase is to cover the newly assessed taxes and homeowners insurance.

To see a fully illustrated example of a mortgage escrow shortage, check this out.

Here are some more things to consider:

Is there a difference between an escrow shortage and an escrow deficiency? While these words may seem similar, in the world of escrow, they’re different entities. An escrow shortage occurs when there is a positive balance in the account, but there isn’t enough to pay the estimated tax and insurance for the future.

An escrow deficiency is when there’s a negative balance in your escrow account. This happens when we’ve had to advance funds to cover disbursements on your behalf. So not only are you going to be short for your upcoming tax and insurance payment, but you also owe money to bring your account current.

How often does the escrow account get analyzed? We look for changes in tax and insurance in the form of an escrow analysis once a year. However, if we see an issue that requires further examination, we can repeat an analysis to determine its impact on your payment. For example, if we’re noticing an increase in your taxes of 25% or more, or noticing a shortage over a certain amount of money, we’ll open another analysis.

How can you be proactive in managing your escrow account? Pay attention to any information you get from your city regarding tax information or from your homeowners insurance company. They will often send you information in the mail about trends and increases. This can help you plan ahead. Keep an eye on insurance trends yourself and shop around to make sure you’re getting the best rate you can. Or, set aside a savings account you deposit a set amount into as an escrow back up plan. This way if your escrow account does wind up short, you’ll have the extra funds to pay it immediately rather than roll that into your monthly payment.

Rates have nothing to do with your escrow payment. “But I have a fixed-rate mortgage! My payment is not supposed to increase.” Which is true, and it doesn’t. Remember how I suggested to view your monthly payment as two parts – a principal/interest part and the escrow part? If your rate is fixed, the amount you pay toward your principal and interest doesn’t change. The amount that does affect your monthly payment is the taxes and insurance part.

For example, using the same numbers from our example above:

10-year mortgage: $1,200 monthly mortgage payment of which $900 goes toward principal and interest, and $300 goes to escrow.

The next year, your city’s taxes increase. The new estimate states we now need $500 per month instead of $300 to cover your tax and insurance bills. This increases your monthly mortgage payment to $1,400. $900 of that amount still goes to your premium and interest. It has not changed.


But if I’m only short X amount, why am I required to pay Y? Here’s a real-world scenario: I received my escrow analysis statement and it said I’m short $1,600. The only thing that changed is that my homeowners insurance went up by $800. Why am I paying double?

Here’s the rub – the escrow account was short $800 to cover the payment for my insurance. So I’ve got a deficit of $800. The other $800 makes up the difference for the future payment of my homeowners insurance. This will get me caught up and hopefully not in a shortage situation next year. Effectively, I’m paying $800 for last year and then $800 for this year.

Did we clear up any escrow shortage questions? Let us know in the comments!

Related Posts

This Post Has 146 Comments

  1. I’m a home Owner. It’s my first home and I just got the escrow shortage note. i call them and they told me i have to pay an escrow shortage plus my monthly payment will go up because of taxes increases, but my question is, Why if i paid the escrow shortage full at once, my rent still have to come up?

    1. Your monthly mortgage payment would still go up because it’s accounting for the tax increase permanently so you won’t be short next year unless they increase again. Hope this helps!

  2. is there an advantage to paying off the shortage? I realize the monthly payments would go down but there isn’t any interest on the shortage right?

    1. Hi Cynthia:

      You end up paying off the shortage either way. It’s just a matter of whether you do it all at once or over a period of a year. There’s no interest on the shortage amount. We just divide by 12.


  3. I work for a servicing company and how would you explain to a customer the reason why they have a shortage but nothing increased and what is the easiest way to explain the escrow analysis to a customer?


    1. Cassie:

      If nothing changed from year to year, why on earth would they have a shortage? In terms of explaining escrow analysis, once a year mortgage servicers analyze the amount you’re paying into escrow and make sure that it’s enough to cover obligations like taxes and homeowners insurance. That’s escrow analysis in a nutshell. I wish you luck!


  4. Hi I have a concern hopefully you can advise me on what to do.

    We got our house built a year ago.. On December we received and Escrow Shortage Statement of $28 and now on January, just a month later we received another Escrow Shortage Statement saying that we are short by $4,168 and even if we were to pay in full our mortgage payments will go up by $240 a month. My questions are, why did we receive two statements within a month of each other… could this be a mistake? Is our first house… we are so concern that we won’t be able to make these payments. This is an FHA Insured loan..

    Thank you so much in advance..

    1. Hi Sandra:

      It could be a mistake. I would talk to a tax adviser. The issue you have here is that when you build a new house, it’s not actually assessed by the county for tax purposes until later. You’re given an estimate. If that estimate is too far off, you can make a big difference in your monthly payment. I would start by talking to someone that specializes in taxes and go from there.

      Kevin Graham

    2. HI Sandra,

      I work at a Home Mortgage company and would like to know do you know how often your mortgage servicing service perform an escrow analysis? I know in the state of CA according to the RESPA guidelines we are required to do an escrow analysis only once a year. Also, shop around for your property insurance to save money as well as contact your Tax authority. You may be eligible for any discounts available.

  5. I have an unusual situation that I need help with.
    I had an undiscovered leak in my plumbing that caused
    my water bill to skyrocket—almost ten times normal.
    As a result a $1,500 water bill was attached to my tax bill.
    Immediate advice to everybody is always get leaks checked out
    by a plumber ASAP. If I had done that when I first suspected a leak
    it could have well saved me $1,000 or more.
    But back to my initial question. The water bill was attached
    to my winter tax bill. What will happen to my escrow account?
    What should I do?

    1. Hi William:

      I’m sorry to hear about your water bill. I don’t really have a great answer for you. That’s very unusual. My suggestion would be to start with the water department. Odds are this has nothing to do with your actual taxes, but they did that to get your attention. I would call them and make sure they haven’t placed a lien on your house over the unpaid water bill or done something similar. In terms of what happens with your escrow account, I would call whoever services your mortgage and get whatever insight you can. It could be a one-time assessment which would have nothing to do with your escrow account. You make that arrangement separately with the water department


  6. Hi I purchased my new home in July/2017. I wanted to know can escrow accounts be spreaded out more than 12 months and can it be spreaded up to 60 months

    1. Congrats on your home purchase, Nenea! As to your question, Escrow accounts can be spread into equal payments over a year, but 12 months is the limit. All of your insurance and tax payments that will be made over the next 12 months are added together and then divided by 12. That number is added to your monthly mortgage payment so you only have one payment that you have to make each month. For more information on how escrow is calculated, please read: https://www.quickenloans.com/blog/escrow-answers-common-questions. I hope this helps! -Allison Hendricks

  7. Current payments – Only have hazard insurance not property tax. Insurance tax for 2016-2017 was $1520.00

    Breakdown on escrow analysis
    $419.54 principal and interest
    $70.58 Escrow
    $42.94 shortage

    New payments
    $419.54 principal and interest
    $126.67 Escrow

    Hazard Ins – anticipated amounts due $847.00
    Actual Amounts paid $1520.00
    Difference $ 673.00

    Projected low escrow balance $980.48 minus allowance low escrow balance $253.34 = total (shortage $1,233.82)

    So my question is. Is this shortage from the upcoming year dec 8 ,2017 – dec 8 2018 insurance is due. Also the $253.34 is amount that they collect and hold ?
    Im not sure were did the $1233.82 came from .
    It says shortage $1233.82 which was divided by 12 months = 102.82
    However it says escrow payment of $126.67 which eaquals to $1520.00 for 12 months which is my insurance payments that is due on December 8 ,2017.
    Where does the shortage coming from and why are they collecting both shortage and escrow per month ?

    1. So I’m going to answer the bottom in question first. They would collect the shortage and raise your escrow every month from now on because they don’t want you to end up short again. As to the timeline for when it’s due, it’s likely the shortage problem is something they’re planning for this year because they know what your premiums are. The mortgage company will advance the money until they can get around to reanalyzing your escrow again which typically happens once a year, although if you change insurance policies or started having your property tax escrowed, you can call and try to request having it reanalyzed. Based on the way this is worded, it looks like you have to have at least $253.34 in your escrow account at all times so they can have some money in there to make a payment if they have to. Mortgage investors do require that you have a minimum amount in the account. I hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

  8. Hi. , I was wondering my mortgage payment went up $433.oo. After a escrow shortage . if I find a lower home owners insurance and incorporate the star discount, with the amount of the shortage change immediately, or will I have to wait another year . lastly can I pay the remaining escrow shortage at anytime or must it be in the mentioned 30 days? Thank you

    1. Hi Rafael:

      The impact of any discounts would be between you and the homeowners’ insurance company. That being said, you can try to request that your escrow be analyzed again once you change insurance. Your escrow is typically analyzed once a year. Some servicers will perform analysis again if you request. In terms of the timeline for paying off the shortage, that may also depend on the policies of the servicer. It’s definitely worth asking the question.

      Kevin Graham

  9. Hello…. Do you know if there is any type of Loan that we would be able to get without having Pay stubs to show income? My husband does not get pay stubs from work, he receives a pay check and cash from job. That’s how we are in our house now, since 2004. Our mortgage company put us in by showing income through our bank statements at that time. We don’t have a principal of paying for the house. After 10 years now things are changing. He still does not receive Pay stubs. Check and cash only. Mortgage was $1756.63….Now it has jumped to $2,649.01. Can’t afford to pay that!!! No principal. Pay buy Interest, which really stinks. Interest Now they want Principal $828.01, Interest $1,058.75, Escrow amount $762.25, Monthly payment $2,649.01… Is there any help out there for us? We did a Loan Modification also. It was approved…But for a higher payment of $2,880.65. I’m going crazy and feeling so sick of this. Don’t know where to turn or what to do. We are behind on 2 payments of now. Please any advice out would be so helpful please? Any Loans to look at from other Mortgage Companies or any assistance out there also. Thank you for your time, Lori

    1. Hi Lori:

      It sounds like you had an interest-only loan. There’s no one I know of that does those any more for this exact reason. No matter what loan you take, eventually you have to start paying back the original balance of the loan and when it switches over in the case of interest-only loans, and causes a real payment shock. Mortgage guidelines have also gotten a lot stricter since 2004. We would definitely need to see actual proof of what he gets paid beyond bank statements. This is most commonly provided through pay stubs, but I’m going to suggest you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts because they may be able to give you other ideas. If you end up not being able to refinance, the next best option may be to try and sell the home and move into something that’s more in line with your current budget, but you should definitely speak with someone to go over all of your options. You can get in touch with us by calling (888) 980-6716.

      Kevin Graham

  10. I received an escrow shortage letter today. I have two options: 1) do nothing and have my monthly bill increase from $1020/mo to $1170/mo or 2) pay the shortage amount of $1278 in cash and only have my monthly bill increase from $1020/mo to $1063/mo. Here’s my question: if I opt to do nothing and pay the increased payment every month, in 12 months considering taxes and insurance stays the same, will my monthly payment go back down?

    1. Assuming the taxes and insurance stayed the same, the payment would go back down to $1063 per month accounting for this year’s increase in taxes. I hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

  11. My insurance was originally about $1,040 but last year it went up by 350 (due to a claim) but this year I received the famous letter “escrow shortage” by like 700 so my monthly payment increased by about 100. Could the insurance have caused the escrow to go up? or why would I have gotten an increased if my property taxes are the same and my insurance stayed the same as the previous year.
    Thanks any knowledge helps

    1. Hi Jairo:

      It’s possible insurance could’ve caused the escrow to go up. Many insurance companies don’t increase premiums after a claim until you go to renew the insurance. I think that’s the most likely scenario you’re experiencing if your taxes haven’t changed. Hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

  12. I just got a notice saying my property taxes are going up $4,000. Which is going to make me $4,000 short in my escrow come December when they pay the bill. Should I tell my lender now and get the escrow reassessed or wait for them to send me a notice?

    Also every year they over pay my insurance by $2,000. Then the insurance company sends me a check. It appears the renewal notice has a $6,000 amount on it but the bill has a $4,000 amount on it, due to discounts received. Is this a lender problem or an insurance company problem and can I get them to pay the bill amount not the renewal notice amount?

    1. Hi Amy:

      I would talk to your servicer and see if they can do a reassessment for you. Your servicer may or may not be the same as your lender. However, their contact information will be on the bill.

      As to the insurance part, I would talk to the servicer and see if you need to call the insurance company about that. I guess the short answer is start with whoever you pay your mortgage to and go from there.

      Kevin Graham

  13. Can anyone tell me why our escrow would say we are short when nothing has changed? No increase in taxes or insurance, yet somehow we are $352.00 short. We have had an escrow shortage every year. We have been in our house for 5 1/2 years now. Something needs to give!

    1. Hi Angie:

      The only explanation I can come up with if you’ve been short every year and nothing has changed this year is that you need to cushion in terms of number of months escrow payments in the account per the guidelines of mortgage investors like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or FHA.

      Kevin Graham

  14. We got a notice of escrow shortage last month, and got a breakdown of the payments/costs today. It says over the course of the next year, we will pay 6127.32 and the escrow account will spend 6127.36. It says our required low balance is 707.60 and at a point in the year we will be at -1067.48, so our shortage is -1775.08. My question is, since we are paying the amount the bank has to spend on us by the end of the year, why do we have a shortage, and what happens to that extra money since technically the bank isn’t spending it on us?

    1. Hi Chris:

      Mortgage investors like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA require that you have a certain amount of surplus funds in your escrow account to help prevent things like tax foreclosures. Therefore, even if you end up paying the exact amount, the lender needs you to have a safety net. This cushion is kept in your escrow account. Hope this helps!

    1. That is odd. Did you recently buy the property? Sometimes the taxes are estimated. That’s the only thing I can think of. Maybe one of our home loan experts would have more insight. You can get in touch with them by calling (888) 980-6716. Hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

  15. Hello, I am in the same situation as many other people. I received a tax refund check from my town for 4,979.44. I then received a letter a month later from my mortgage company that there was an escrow shortage I then explained to them I had received a check from the town and it might have been something that was suppose to be given to my mortgage company and not me. I then asked them how much was the shortage for and they said 6,253.84 I questioned them that the check was for 4,979.44 so they said I would still be short and that would be rolled out into my mortgage payment which would make my mortgage go up by around 150.00 I also asked if I paid the rest of the shortage would that keep my mortgage my original payment and they said no??? I’m so confused please help!

    1. It’s plausible that the refund check could go to the mortgage company if it was supposed to go in your escrow account. That being said, even if you paid off the shortage all at once, your mortgage payment would still go up because you have to account for the fact that either your taxes or insurance are higher and they really want to try and avoid having a shortage again because that’s not good for you or the lender. I would also make sure you’re claiming every possible property tax exemption you can.

  16. Hi,

    I received the dreaded escrow account disclosure statement today. I bought my house a year ago. Apparently I “owe” $2,233 and my monthly payments will go up $400 per month. I feel ill thinking about this. My question is – will this happen every year (such a large amount) or does this normally only happen the year after the initial purchase? If my payments are going to increase by $400 a month EVERY YEAR I will be homeless within two years. I do not understand how this can happen without them explaining it to us beforehand. The jargon and legalese is so confusing too I am frankly sick to my stomach of all these unseen fees and surcharges that seem to be never-ending and un-affordable. Please help.

    1. Hi E.R.:

      I can’t guarantee anything because I don’t know what your situation is. However, I can tell you that commonly your escrow is estimated in the first year, so hopefully your payments won’t go up by $400 every year. We’re still in a cycle where property values keep going up right now, so it’s likely that your property taxes might go up with those values. I will tell you that if you’re worried about jargon, legalese and unseen fees, your lender or servicer isn’t doing you any favors. If you want, you can call (888) 980-6716 and we would be happy to go over what you’re being charged for and see whether we can get you in a better situation.

      Kevin Graham

      1. Hi KEVIN-

        I have a similar situation. We purchased our home in a Florida in August of 2016. We filed for HEX (Homestead Exemption) before the due date of March 1st, 2017. However, because it was our first year, the value was assessed and our property taxes increased. We received a statement that our escrow account is short $6,357.50. We can pay the full amount, and our mortgage payment will go up from $2,273.44 to $2,647.42 OR choose to do nothing, and pay a new mortgage balance of $3,177.21. Due to Homestead, our home assessment value cannot increase more than 3% after the 2nd year. So my question is, like E.R., will we have to pay next year another escrow shortage of $6k+? OR could you say that after making the full payment now, of $6,357.50, we can just expect slight possible increases to our mortgage of $2,647.42 but nothing crazy since it’s capped by the 3% HEX?

        Thank you so much!

        1. Hi Gaby:

          in this situation, I’m really going to recommend that you speak with a tax expert. Local laws vary and I want to make sure you get the right advice. That seems like a big difference between the assessment and what your monthly taxable amount might be. I think you need to talk to someone that’s more knowledgeable in taxes.


  17. We had an escrow shortfall that will be paid by May, 2017. Once the escrow shortfall is paid, how do we get the mortgage holder to redo the analysis? I’m being told I have to wait until October! I don’t want to keep paying the extra $700 a month, its a strain on my budget.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Peggy:

      You can try to request that they redo the analysis. The problem that I think you’re going to run into is that you’re paying an extra $700 a month in part to ensure that there is no shortfall next year. It’s important to keep in mind that your escrow costs will be higher than they were before either way. However, maybe not $700 per month higher. I understand your frustration.

      Kevin Graham

  18. Hi

    I purchased a property in February 2016 and my property taxes were around $1200 for the year. I just got a letter from my lender and my payment has gone up more than $400 a month.

    My property taxes went from $1,253.21 to $3,747.21.

    We haven’t done any home improvements or anything.

    How is this possible?


    1. Hi Tristan:

      It’s possible that this could happen. There are a couple of things here. You just bought the property last year. Usually, in the first year, your lender estimates your property taxes because the local taxing authority hasn’t had a chance to reassess your property value yet. Many times, that estimate is lower than what the taxes actually are.

      The other piece of this is that property values are in an upswing. In some areas of the country, this is happening faster than in others. It’s possible your property value has actually gone up quite a bit. This is a good thing because you’re getting equity, but it can be a double-edged sword because your taxes are going to go up.

      In terms of actual advice, the only thing I can tell you is to make sure you’re claiming all the property tax exemptions you can possibly get. You should see a tax professional if you’re unsure what you might qualify for. I hope this at least explains how it could happen.

      Kevin Graham

  19. I have owned my home for 9 years now and refinanced my mortgage about 5 years ago. For the past 5 years since refinancing, I have received an escrow shortage notice every January. I have not been aware of either my insurance or tax assessment during that time going up hardly at all, but yet the shortage amount is always sizable. Before changing mortgage companies, I had never received a shortage notice. I have contacted my mortgage company multiple times regarding this, but never get a satisfactory answer. Any advice?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Denny:

      I would make sure your mortgage company is the one servicing the loan to begin with. Many mortgage companies sell the servicing rights after your mortgage is originated, so they don’t actually have anything to do with the payment. Make sure you’re contacting the right company. Once you do that, if they can’t give you an answer, I would contact your local taxing authority and homeowners insurance company. It’s a little work, but that’s how you would get to the bottom of it. I hope this helps!


  20. Sorry, I was wrong. There was no increase in our homeowner’s insurance at all. Supposedly property taxes went up.

    1. My best advice if that’s the case of your taxes going up is to make sure that you’re claiming all the property tax deductions you can.

  21. Hello! We have just received a bill stating that we are short almost $5,000! We generally pay $800 per month and have been in our house just a year and a half. Is this normal to need to pay this much for a shortage? I know that our homeowner’s insurance went up about $50 when we renewed in December 2016, but don’t understand how this could happen. If we pay them the lump sum of $5,000, then our payments will be $300 more than what we are paying now. If we spread it out over 12 months we will still be paying almost twice the amount of our mortgage each month, which we can’t afford. Any advice?

  22. At the beginning of 2016 I received an escrow overage check of $350.

    At the beginning of 2017 I received a notice that my mortgage payment was going up $150/month because the mortgage company did not collect enough that it needed to pay out in 2016. My homeowners insurance actually decreased by $5/year and my taxes may have gone up a total of $10 from 2017 to 2016. Why would a company not notify me in 2016 if there was going to be a shortage and does this increase seem extreme?

    1. Hi Stan:

      When you first buy a property a lot of times, the tax payments used to set up your escrow account are estimated and it’s not unheard of for this to happen. Your mortgage company wouldn’t know what your taxes were until the taxes were reassessed after the purchase by the county. It’s possible that it could increase by that amount depending on how much they underestimated your taxes.

      Kevin Graham

  23. There was a shortage for me of $125.50, I have the option to pay that amount up front, but yet my monthly payment still went up about $10. Is this the same as the last example from your article? That I am paying for last year’s shortage and for this year?

    Thank You

    1. Hi Jon:

      That’s exactly what’s happening. You’re paying the shortage from last year and the additional charges for this year.

      Kevin Graham

  24. Hi there,
    We purchased our home in July of 2015. In February 2016, we received an escrow refund check of $1,200 AND our payment went up $90.00 each month. I don’t understand why we would receive a refund and at the same time our payments go up. Can you please explain?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Tara:

      That’s a very good question. One thing that comes to mind is that when you purchase your home, your taxes are usually estimated. Therefore, your mortgage company will have you put extra in the account in order to help you avoid a shortage. When your escrow analysis was completed, they realized you had more money in your account than was necessary for the bill for the previous year. However, your property value was also reassessed by the city at some point and your taxable value went up. Similar changes can happen if you switch insurance policies.

      Kevin Graham

1 2 3

Leave a Reply to Kevin Graham Cancel comment reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *