Sunday, November 18, 2012

The House Saga

Well, today I finally got my chance to get mad at Chase Bank in person. As some of you may know, we've been fighting a losing battle with the bank ever since we moved into our new house some four or five years ago.

When you build a house, you get a construction loan at a really high rate of interest. As soon as the house is complete, you convert to a normal loan at a much lower interest rate. Unless, of course, your title company makes a huge mistake. In our case, we ended up with two titles, one for the house, one for the land. However, we didn't know this.

Our first tax bill came and was for under $100. Something's not right, we thought. We called the county and they said things about appraisal made before house was built, will get it figured out correctly next year, don't worry. Notice there was nothing in there about the two titles.

So we applied to refinance and were right up to the dotted line when the bank (which had mysteriously become Chase Bank, not the bank we'd taken out the mortgage with) discovered the title problem. You'd think this was a little problem. Nope, it took EIGHTEEN months to get it straightened out.

We waltzed back to Chase, still thinking they were on our side, to refinance again, and discovered that was impossible. Why? Because suddenly the new home we moved into with close to $100K in equity was now substantially underwater. For the second time, but the first time involved real water (a freak snow storm that melted off in less that a day and turned Beaver Creek into a raging river.)

I asked Chase, still thinking they were on our side, what we should do. They said, "No problem." Just ask for a loan modification. Oh, but first you just have to be tiny bit behind in your payment to qualify. Just a month or two. THAT WAS THE FIRST LIE.

Not knowing what we know now, we went behind in our mortgage, thinking that we'd get a new mortgage at a substantially lower rate in a few weeks, catch up on our mortgage, and be on our way.

NO CHANCE IN HELL. Four years later, and we're on our way to foreclosure with our once great credit rating destroyed. I'm talking FICO scores well over 700.  I'm not going to bore you with the sordid details. If you've followed the mortgage crisis at all, you know all about MERS, robosigning, lost paperwork, and all the other crap that we went through.

The point is, we did nothing wrong (except somehow mysteriously get involved with Chase and believe their lies). We didn't buy more house than we could afford. We had a nice 30 year conventional mortgage lined up. We sent everything they asked for in, multiple times. We sent it again and again. We did a seemingly endless series of profit and loss statements for my business. We called them frequently and got a different answer from each person we spoke with. Sometimes we got 15 different answers from 15 different people in one phone call. I'm serious. We asked to have things in writing (they declined) (and that's illegal, we found out later) and yet somehow they decided we couldn't have our house.

Today we went to the home ownership center for Chase. Every big city is supposed to have one and if this is happening to you, GO THERE. NOW. For the first time since this mess began we have somebody we can call who is finally trying to help us. It may be too late for us...four years of being behind in your mortgage casts a heavy pall over your financial situation (remember that FICO score? Cut it in half and then deduct your age, weight, and telephone number) but it may not be too late for you.

So I got my chance to vent at the guy, then we started looking at options. First thing, he started the modification process again. This buys us at least a year before we might have to be out of the house. Then he pointed out that Chase had started foreclosure in March although we were only notified of this a week ago. We've got him working on that but apparently that can bring the foreclosure process to a screeching halt.

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