Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In which I discuss the unfortunate interactions with Chase Bank. And yes, I am naming names.

I am writing this post because I CANNOT be the only person dealing with this, and quite frankly, despite all of the nasty exchanges I have seen online regarding whether a loan modification is deserved, or warranted, I think we need to lend our voices to the growing crowd of Obama supporters, who believe that his programs are good programs in theory, that are being managed badly by the institutions responsible for enacting them.

In other words, Coco (a?), you can suck it.

We got up at 4:30 AM in order to call Chase Bank to discuss our loan modification application. With Coco (a?)

We have done this 3 times in the past month, but we hadn't been able to speak with Coco (a?) before today. I am not sure if that is a blessing or not - we shall see in a few weeks if what she told us at 4:47am will come to pass. (Note the time stamp, apparently, specific details are key to confirming conversations with Chase Bank about loan modifications. Or not, because even with names and dates and specifics, we were basically called liars for claiming that we had submitted an application, and followed up and confirmed (multiple times)that the application was complete and so on and so forth.)

A little history: We requested an application for loan modification back in April. we got the paperwork in May, and submitted it, by registered mail, each and every form requested was provided, checked off on the check list, and confirmed complete and correct. 6 weeks later we got a letter saying that a tax form was missing. What the fuck, Coco (a?)

We had definitely sent it, and we were VERY upset that the form containing our social security numbers and signatures had been misplaced. We were told that maybe it was not filled out correctly, rather then missing. Coco (a?), you are such a tease. So we got a new form, filled it out again, following the instructions on the form to the letter (including NOT signing it this time, as directed) and faxed it. And confirmed that it had been received.

And then we waited, and called a few times, each time confirming that they had all necessary information, and that our application was "pending".

Then last night, we got a nasty collection letter, saying our application was cancelled, because it was incomplete. And that they were reporting us to a credit bureau, and that they would begin proceedings, and on and on and on.

Only, we are up to date on our payments. Not in default at all. What are they going to report us for ? And that is when I started to get really nervous. I don't own this home - the bank does. They can do whatever they want. If they decide they want their money back, and I can't give it to them, they will take my house away. Apparently, even if I make payments on time each month, they can send threatening letters that leave me reaching for the vodka after the first paragraph.

Which would lead one to wonder: if we can still pay each month, why do we think we should qualify for a loan modification ? And the short answer is, our ability to pay each month is coming to an end. We were sold a shitty loan which enabled us to (barely) afford the house at the time we bought it. We were assured that when interest rates went down later on, we could refinance to a better loan. We weren't new to mortgages, and had owned several houses before (sometimes two or three at the same time). Refinancing and juggling was something we were familiar with, and had done for years. Always paying on time, as agreed, somehow. I wasn't about to start marketing a line of real estate videos, or anything, but we were doing all right buying houses, improving them, and selling them again. This house had a lot of potential, and was the least expensive home on the market in this town. Another good investment. Or so we thought.

We had just put our previous house on the market, after deciding to move closer to work and town and school. This move was supposed to save money. When we found this house (again, the least expensive house on the market at the time) we still hadn't gotten any offers on the home we were selling, but we decided to go for it, and pull from our savings when needed, in order to get this house. Holding two loans would suck, but we had some savings, and we thought it was worht the risk. Refinancing would be easy.....just as soon as those rates went down. Fast forward 4 years - when rates finally did go down, so did our home's value. And the previous house took a looooong time to sell. As a result, we no longer had the 20% equity we had put as a down payment, and the almost $100,000 invested in the house building an addition and improving the existing structure was gone too. We no longer qualified for a better loan. And the shitty loan we have is a 5 year fixed, and 5 years is coming up fast.

We are realizing something, very quickly. We are fucked.

The only way to get assistance is to be in default. We can't keep paying our mortgage if we want to get this loan modified. We must drain our meager savings account and ruin our credit rating in order to get any kind of assistance at all.

Which seems counter productive to getting better loan terms, and will affect every other aspect of our life.

We have worked very hard to pay this loan for the past 4 years. VERY hard. And we are coming to the part of the story where I start to think it is not worth it anymore. I do not understand why the bank would not want to just adjust our interest rate to the current market rate, and let us get on with out lives. It would take 5 minutes. They adjust credit card rates in a single phone call (or at least, they did last year) so why does it have to be so god-damned difficult ? What if they just did an across the board mandated loan modification to get this whole thing started, where every loan paying more then, let's say, a 5.25% interest rate was brought down to a 5% fixed 30 year term, with an option to pay interest-only or principle and interest for 3 of those years. And that after that, if there were still people in distress they could deal with it on a case by case basis.

Because we could just walk away, our savings intact, go live in a nice rental somewhere, pay literally 1/3 of what we pay for our mortgage right now (which is not only a testament to how shitty our loan is, but also to how much the rental market has been affected) and reduce our stress by 200%. But that would leave destruction in our wake. Destruction that we would be able to overcome fairly easily with a bankruptcy filing or 7 years of our usual on-time payments until our report cleared. In the meantime, with the money saved by not paying this stupid mortgage, we could save up and pay CASH for something else, and not involve a bank at all.


What to do when they don't make it easy.

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