Dealing With the Devil: Countrywide aka B of A

These file photos show a Bank of America branc...
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Ok, I admit it–THIS IS A RANT. This is more than a pet peeve. This is a full on rant.
For the past 8 months–count’em 8–I’ve been trying to do a short sale with a Countrywide loan. Actually, the property has two Countrywide loans, a first and a second.
The house is cute. It’s in Pasadena, in a good location and has attracted lots of attention. I’ve gotten lots of offers. In fact, the first offer was sent in with “the package” in October. The package means all the seller’s financial information, hardship letter, bank statements, tax returns–the lot. And, of course, the offer goes in with that.

Fast forward two months with no response from the bank. The buyers bail…No problem, I’ve got a backup offer. That buyer hangs on for two months and then decides not to buy a house after all. No problem, I’ve got a backup. Two more months flash by and the bank accepts their offer!! Oh happy day–you think? The very day before, the buyers–you guessed it–had bailed because, having to leave their apartment, they really had had to buy a house.

Now, if I can get the same amount, I shouldn’t have any problem, right? So, we wait a month, rejecting lowball offers until we get one in the right ballpark, send it in and then…wait and wait and wait.

Two weeks go by until Countrywide finally declares they’ve got the offer in the system. Then, they start talking about doing a BPO or mini-appraisal. We’ve already had two of those two months ago and this offer is about the same with prices still falling, so really why? But, OK…The BPO will come in 5 days, no 13 days, no 15 days…They will assign a negotiator. The BPO is ordered; no it’s not ordered. Only the negotiator can order it. No, the BPO is in the system…Do I have any hair left to pull out?
This house originally sold for $500,000. Countrywide put up $430,000. Our first offer was in the $360,000 area last fall and now is at least $50,000 less. You do the math. In the meantime, the seller hasn’t paid the mortgage since October. Add in another $20,000 in lost revenue. Is it any wonder that the banks are going bankrupt?
Countrywide now aka B of A has not changed one iota. It has the worst reputation for dilly dallying in the short sale process. That’s great for the sellers who get 6, 8, 10 months free rent. One sympathetic agent told me he had a Countrywide short sale hanging on for 16 months!

The moral of this story is–if you have a Countrywide loan and want to do a short sale, get ready to live rent-free for a long, long time…

Bankophobia: Don’t Let the Banks Give You a Bad Deal

Countrywide Financial
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It seems I’ve developed a bad case of bankophobia lately. Clients are screaming about their miserable experiences trying to refi. Experts like William K. Black on Bill Moyer’s Journal, a formner regulator, reveal the Big Bankers are actually fraudsters and they know it. Almost everything I’m reading about the bailout of these pernicius institutions is making steam come out my ears.

Really, I  am a naturally optimistic person.  I rarely think ill of anyone without, of course, proof positive. I do exempt  Bernie Madoff, naturally; he’s pretty clearly nothing but a thief. Then, there’s Ken Lewis, CEO  of Bank of America–he’s a regular snake. Not only does he grab all the dough he can get from the tax payers, but he turns around, giving billions in bonuses to his cronies all the while trying to pull the rug out from regular working Americans who might try to level the playing fied by joining a union. That really steams me! These–hogs is the only term I can think for them–can never have enough for themselves, but they put up every barrier they can think of to prevent others from even having a steady income or a potential retirement. Maybe we should bring back the guillotine…Just kidding.  Then, there’s John Thain, lately CEO of Merrill Lynch, who gave out billions to his cronies with the connivance of Ken Lewis just before B of A took over his company.

This whole affair is sickening. The little that the present administration is doing for actual citizens includes The Making Home Affordable Plan offering 105% refis. These loans are now available and even some in the Southland could take advantage of the now amazingly low rates to do a refi. Don’t bet on it because these very same banks who received bailout money apparently don’t want you to get any advantage whatsoever. Sounds to be like Ken Lewisism gone amok. Here’s just a few examples of how hard they are making it.

First, many banks are applying super-tough appraisal conditions so homes don’t qualify.” Nope–we see your home as worth $310,000, not $312,000 so you don’y qualify. Next.”   Then, there’s the private mortgage insurance premium sticking point. Got PMI? Lenders like Wells Fargo and Countrywide won’t touch your refi. Together, they probably have half the loans in the country. Maybe later…they say.

If you have PMI with MGIC and it’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest PMI company, then you must refi with your current lender. That’s MGIC’s rule, not the program’s. Don’t like your current lender? Tough tiddlywinks to you. MGIC owns you.

Loan fees–be sure to get a GFE–good faith estimate–in writing because some banks are making hay while the sun shines–what else is new?-and charging exorbitant fees. This is a federal law, so if  you can’t or don’t get one right away, walk right on by no matter how good the deal seems. Because–it isn’t. This is one of the oldest tricks in the lending business: promise them everything, but never put it in writing.

Here’s another sticky wicket: HELOCs–equity lines of credit. Either the bank issuing the HELOC refuses to subordinate, though it’s already subordinate, or the new bank says, “Oops, with the new loan combined LTV [loan to value] is too high. Can’t do it.” This is a variation on the appraisal gambit.

Then, there’s credit. You don’t have a 740 FICO? You’re out. And, you better have a job because you will have to qualify and you will have to reveal your entire financial picture. These last are not so bad to mymind. Now, at least we’re returning to sanity and trying to lend only to qualified borrowers. Trouble is Obama’s program is supposed to be helping”potentially troubled”  homeowners stay out of trouble.

Last but not least is the most infuriating and frustrating aspect of the whole process…Actually, this one has two intertwined parts. The first is the incredible voice maze you must navigate to talk to your bank. The unconscionable hold times we are all subject to these days. And, then, after waiting 45 minutes on hold, you get to speak to Joe Moron who tells you all kinds of false and crack-brain stuff–“You must be behind in your mortgage to do a refi”–Huh? “We’ve never heard of Obama’s plan. Making Home Affordable Plan? Never heard of it? We live on Planet Pluto.”  Sometimes you get to chat with a dingbat in the Phillippines or maybe Bangalore–always nice, always out to lunch.

If all else fails–somehow–you get disconnected.

These are a few of the reasons I’ve developed a bad case of bankophobia.

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