My Brain Was Abducted by the Mortgage Industry

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November 16, 2012 by themommahen

I am so sick of the mortgage industry. Sick of it. Sick. Of. It. Am I clear?

The Husband and I used to joke, even before the whole economic and housing collapse, that the mortgage industry purposely made everything really confusing just so you couldn’t figure out how badly you were getting hosed during the process. We used to sit down with mortgage officers and, while we were sitting there, we got it. It made sense. As soon as we walked out the door? It was as if we had been ray-gunned by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black.

“What’s covered in the closing costs?”

“Ummmm, they said. Ummmm. I have no idea.”

or

“Why did we have to sign that document that said the property would be subdivided later by the contractor?”

or

“Did we really just sign over our first-born to them?” (Okay, not really, luckily for H#1, but it certainly felt like it.)

We’ve owned two places. The first was a shoebox on the El tracks in Lincoln Park. (I’m not exaggerating. It was less than 800 square feet and it shook when one of the four, FOUR, lines would rumble, rattle and squeal by. We had to turn the TV up and down constantly or quit talking when it went by. Mortgage people and their Men In Black rayguns were obviously responsible for that purchase.) The second we decided to buy because it was 1) new 2) a townhome (like a single family home but sharing walls and common areas and being part of a homeowner’s association!) and 3) it was closer to the doggie daycare our greyhound went to. I wish I was lying about that last part. Again, rayguns.

We are lucky to have been able to purchase two properties in Chicago. SO lucky, in fact, that we still own the second one, despite our best efforts to sell it when we moved. We finally were able to get a perfectly wonderful tenant, so we’re lucky there, but owning a home in Chicago makes it a tad difficult to move forward on what we thought our plan would be, which is to own a home here in NC. And living here while our home is in Chicago makes it a tad difficult to do anything with our townhome that might make things a little easier, like, say, refinance.

Not that we haven’t tried mind you. And not that companies like Chase and Quicken Loans and others haven’t tried, mind you. And according to news reports, the government is trying to help us too, with all sorts of programs to make refinancing easier for families like us.

But guess what? We don’t qualify on all counts. Need a lower payment? Check. Have good credit? Check. (Thankfully.) Have a higher rate than the market currently offers? Check. Primary residence? Check.

Oh wait, it’s that last one there that’s giving us trouble. Because we don’t live there. Which makes it an investment property. An investment property. It just sounds so…luxurious! I almost feel richer typing it! Unfortunately, it’s a crappy investment property. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely place to live. I loved it while we were there and by all accounts our tenants are happy as clams there right now. But when I think of an investment property, I usually think of a second home. An additional property. Not the only one we own but don’t live in.

Which is what the guy at Quicken got an earful about the other day when he called me for the second time in as many days to see why I didn’t move forward with them on a new mortgage.

Ummmm, because your colleague told me you couldn’t help me?

Well, ma’am, your case has been escalated to me and I can offer more products and options than my colleague.

So why didn’t I talk to you first?

Because I’m on the escalation team. People only talk to me when their case gets escalated.

I picture a guy with a red phone on his desk waiting to get the call:

There’s someone Bill couldn’t help. YOU’RE ON. Don’t let us down. We’re all counting on you.

So I begrudgingly agreed to speak with him again, going over the same information I’d given his colleague just two days prior. (Stupid MIB raygun.) And he did have access to more options. Turns out they could help us. Even though we bought at the height of the market in Chicago. Even though we paid more than we should have. (Everyone who bought then did.) Even though the value of our home had fallen. Even though a townhome is technically a condo. Even though we didn’t live there. Oh wait, you don’t LIVE there?

And that’s when it all came to a screeching halt.

Ummm, you don’t live there?

No, I told you I’m in NC and the property is in Chicago.

I’m gonna have to put you on hold for just a minute, ma’am.

So when he came back and confirmed what I already knew, I told him the following.

“I don’t understand your industry. I don’t understand the promises of help to honest people who are trying to do the right thing. We relocated. We tried to sell our house. We couldn’t. We finally had to do something after money siphoned out of our account for eight months while the property sat there. We kept paying our mortgage. On time. We found a person in a similar situation as us. They agreed to pay us rent. We (most likely) can’t get another loan while we carry this one. We could use some relief from a lower rate while we wait for the market to come back. We can’t get one if we don’t live in it. We can’t live in it. It’s a circular conversation, a textbook example of the types of stories – one of the more positive ones, for sure – but still a textbook example of what happened to responsible people in the past several years. If we walked away from our mortgage and defaulted there would be programs to help us. Heaven forbid and thank goodness we did not have to go that route, but seriously. I know you don’t make the rules and can’t change your industry, but if you’re ever in the room with someone who does or who can, please play back the recording of this sales call.”

Oh well. It made me feel better.

To the members of the mortgage industry (none of whom read this blog, of course, so forgive me for blathering on), I say, hear me. There are lots of people out there who need help. The Husband and I are better off than many. I totally get that. But please don’t call, email, tweet or text me promising help until you’ve escalated your offer to somebody who actually makes decisions. Because I’m not answering your phone calls or emails anymore, and I’m not falling for your claims and promises.

At least not until you raygun me again.

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