Okay, back again with revenge of the people. What started as a blog campaign to help people understand the flawed and brutal short sale gauntlet, has turned into a mixture of factual information and emotional rants. I can’t help it. I’m a type “A” individual who lives and dies by emotional responses to nearly every situation. So if I am not providing useful factual insight on real estate happenings or untangling today’s real estate jargon, hopefully the rants help express my empathy for anyone dealing with the big banks and their ridiculous and half-hearted attempt to appease the masses with lip service.
Here’s a link http://homeloanhelp.bankofamerica.com/en/homeowner-counseling.html. I never want to be accused of plagiarism. The next comment is a direct quote from Bank of America’s Homeowner Counseling Services. “If you’re experiencing a financial hardship, homeowner counseling services can help you set a budget, find local resources and decide which options might be the best for you.” One word: Bullshit. Even if you read and reread the above quote, you will find the statement empty of any type of genuine or self deprecating language. The page then goes on to point you to government help programs. Thanks for the tip B of A, but I have a new website called Google. Heard of it? Save the desperate attempt at adding relevant content to your site and come up with something original and meaningful.
Continuing on, B of A is kind enough to give the below advice on mortgage fraud (and I quote)
Recognize and avoid mortgage fraud, loan assistance scams and other common schemes
- Beware of any person or organization that asks you to pay a fee in exchange for housing counseling services or modification of a past due loan
- Beware of anyone who says they can “save” your home if you sign or transfer over the deed to your house
- Do not sign over the deed to your property to any organization or individual unless you are working directly with your mortgage servicer to forgive your debt
- Never make your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage servicer without their approval.
(Here’s the link. Check it out for yourself: http://homeloanhelp.bankofamerica.com/en/avoiding-mortgage-scams.html
Let’s break this down. Bullet point #1: “Beware of any person or organization that asks you to pay of fee in exchange for housing counseling services…” Basically, beware of B of A (and don’t worry Wells Fargo, you will get your turn). Here’s why. During a short sale, I have seen B of A ask homeowners (homeowners who are completely broke at best) to “contribute” to the sale by bringing funds to close or signing a promissory note to pay a portion of the deficiency in the form of cash. I know, many of you are saying “Well, they promised to pay and they took out the loan to buy. They need to take responsibility for their actions”…. What if I told you that they ask this when a near death accident breaks a family via medical expenses, leaving them no choice but to short sale or go through foreclosure? I’m a capitalist too, but all parties assume risk when entering a contract. If the statement said “If you default, we are going to come after you, guns blazing until you surrender all that you have” at least everyone would know your goal. But people don’t and truly think you want to help. Anyone for a lesson in “Truth in Advertising? Nonetheless, bullet point #1 is violated by B of A.
Bullet point #2: “ Beware of anyone who says they can “save” your home if you sign or transfer over the deed to your house”. You be the judge on this one. A client of mine was in the middle of a short sale and had an opportunity to give B of A almost the entire amount owed. During the short sale, people at the bank were contacting my client and urging him to do a deed-in-lieu (DIL) of foreclosure to avoid credit damage. Okay, so they didn’t say “save your home”, but they did say “save your credit”. In all actuality, the credit damage he would have sustained from a deed-in-lieu (with terms they imposed), would cost him slightly less than a foreclosure while providing for an immense hassle and legal expenses (again, broke at best). Eventually however, their recommendation and notes in the file about the DIL, caused his short sale to be cancelled. After we started it again and battled for 5 months, the buyer went away and the bank foreclosed (as a side note, they sold the property for $45,000 less than the offer we had).
Bullet point #3: “Do not sign over the deed to your property…unless you are working directly with your mortgage servicer to forgive your debt”. My comments on this one get a little dicey due to debt forgiveness and legal rights to pursue deficiencies (both of which are beyond the scope of my licensure and should be addressed by an attorney in your state). When state and federal laws force them to forgive, they forgive. When laws permit them to pursue, they do. So, you are working with your mortgage servicer, they aren’t necessarily forgiving your debt, and they want you to surrender the deed to your property as mentioned in the paragraph immediately preceding this one. Don’t they tell you not to do this? I am so confused….
Bullet point #4: “Never make your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage servicer without their approval”. Here’s the thing, they are trying to keep people from paying 3rd party companies a fee to help with negotiating a short sale, etc. on homeowners’ behalf. I get that. Don’t throw your money away. By throwing “their approval” in the mix, they are implying that they are an authority on determining the validity of who you pay. This story might really piss you off, so be warned. A dear friend of mine (who previously worked for B of A…so much for loyalty) was told by B of A that her loan modification was approved. They needed her to make reduced payments of $X dollars (which she could afford) per month for 3 months and if she proved she was capable of this, they would make this her payment for the rest of her loan. She made the 3 payments on time and in the amount they “approved”. She continued to check in with them on a regular basis to make sure everything was on track. Continually they told her she was complying and they would not foreclose. One day, this single mother of a 13 yr. old and 2 yr. old, heard a knock at her door. It was a local real estate broker. Surprised to see her, my friend asked why she stopped by her home. In a very sorrowful and soft tone, the broker proceeded to tell her that the bank foreclosed on her home and she needed to vacate the premises in a very short amount of time. Bullet point #4 was not technically violated because my friend didn’t make a payment to someone other than the servicer. For what it is worth, they also approved her payments. If this isn’t stealing and fraudulent, I don’t know what is.
If you find this article to be a misrepresentation of Bank of America, like it, hate it, can’t believe it, etc., I encourage you to share your comments. At heart, I am an eternal optimist. Have a good story? Let me know. Your input is important. End of rant.