Monday, July 13, 2009

I guess I'll just get a 3rd job instead...

No anti-big government commentary. I am just going to outline my experience working with an Obama program as a cautionary tale. The only thing I wonder is "What if this was a serious medical issue and I had government health insurance?"

Since this a lay-off blog this is on topic. My income was cut in half with my new job. Yay. I have been dealing with it by cutting a lot of things. I can't cut my mortgage – WAIT! Obama to the rescue!

I found out, according to the guidelines, that I should easily qualify for the Homeowners Stability & Affordability Act loan modification program.

And for the record - No, nein, Non, Nai, or whatever language it’s still NO - I don’t see any contradiction in taking government money when its there...I just don’t think it should be there at all. But since it is - I want mine.

Technically if you have lost your job or lost income and your monthly mortgage payment is 31% or more of your gross monthly pay your lender and the guv'mint are supposed to modify your loan to get it down to 31%. Sounds simple. My loan is 40% of my new salary. Woohoo.

6/16/09 First call to the "hotline". 888-995- HOPE. (awww). I am asked repeatedly if I want a modification or a refi. “Um, I dunno, aren’t you supposed to figure that out for me, Mr. Hope Hotline guy?” It was obvious at this point they someone had just rented a few floors in a building, bought 10,000 phones and trained people to ask questions off a script. (I did confirm this later - its a 3rd party company that slapped a call center together after the big White House announcement)

He really had no clue. Finally, I just let him stick to the script and gave all of my financial info to Miguel. He said I’d get a letter in two weeks.

I was little put off by his cluelessness so I called Citibank directly and was transferred to a Refi guy who told me I didn’t qualify for anything and I needed to refinance immediately. It became obvious he makes commission off my refinance and not my modification. I said to him that according to the 31% rule, I qualify and it doesn’t make sense to refinance cause my payment actually goes up and I have to pay fees. I am now on this guy’s regular call list and he won't leave me alone after I told him repeatedly I will not refinance under any circumstances. He gives salespeople a bad name.

6.17.09 I decided to try again cause I was a little worried about what number I actually called the day before and who I just gave all my info to. I spoke to Linda, a very nice and optimistic woman, who told me I should have no problem qualifying and to submit my info online and fax it immediately. So I did ($25 for the fax).

6/18.09 I notice on my mortgage sign-in page a notice that my "Modification is being worked on, give it 30 days" Wow, progress!

6/30/09 I get a phone call from Kimberly. "We need to get all of your information." "Um, I gave it to Miguel AND I filled out the online form which I faxed in." "We need it again..." This takes at least 30 minutes each time. Kimberly told me that the qualification depended on your current gross income and your current expenses.

7/12/09 I arrive home to three letters from Citibank. All form letters, all the same and dated June 30th with July 1 postmarks on two and July 2 postmarks on 1. The letters said they have been trying to reach me but were unable too…Huh? I talked to Kimberly on the 30th. I was concerned because the letter said that I had 7 days to respond but I had been out of town and that time already passed. I called over the weekend but the phone just rang and rang – no message.

7.13.09 I warn you, your head my explode just reading this. This is a 3 hour ordeal.

I got a busy signal when I tried to get thru to the “Mortgage Outreach Support” (MOS) 877 #. I kept trying and finally got thru and was put on hold for 15 minutes before Mrs. Valentino answered. I could barely understand her because of an accent. She told me she needed more info from me and proceeded to ask me the same questions Miguel, the website, Kimberly had already asked me...

Then I was immediately told I didn’t qualify but not given a reason. I asked to talk to a supervisor. The supervisor, informed me that I had to call the refi people to exhaust all options. I calmly (I was still calm at this point) explained that I tried to refinance and my payment would go UP. She told me it was a “special refinance office" and I had to try before they would review my case. Ok fine.

She transferred me and the guy immediately told me that refinancing wouldn’t lower my payment. I told him I already knew that but I had to go through the “process” and could he please mark it in my record and tell me the next step. He had no clue what I was talking about. There was no “special refi”. So, the refinance office doesn’t talk to modification office.

I called the main Loan Mitigation office at Citibank instead of the MOS # because I couldn’t get thru to the 877 # again. Edward said he couldn’t help me that all he could see is that I was denied but it didn’t say why. He told me my record was tagged as "special" (awww) and to call the 877 # and gave me an 866 alternate #. The 866 # didn’t work.

My head is about to pop off at this point.

I called the 877 #. On hold for 25 minutes. Got a person and immediately asked for a supervisor. She transferred me back to the hold line. 15 minutes later someone came on! She couldn’t hear me. I frantically checked my phone to see if I had it on mute. I didn’t and all I heard was “Hello? Hello, Is anyone there?”. Then my cell phone died. I went and got a glass of wine.

I counted to 1,000 (10 wasn’t going to cut it) and I called back. I’m a glutton for punishment.
35 minutes later I got a person! The SAME THING happened!!! I was on a different phone, a landline this time, and she couldn’t hear me. Something is wrong with their phone! Then I heard a CLICK.

End of story. So much for "Hope for Homeowners". More like frustration, angst and incompetence.

PS: (I did confirm the MOS phones were not working properly after one more feeble call to Citibank)

PPS:It's not just me...
A LONG WAY HOME: Getting a loan modification to avoid foreclosure not as easy as advertised

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