Bank of America Nightmare… Updates Journal
NOTE: It has been two years (May 2011 to March 2013) since I last updated this post and a lot has happened in that time. Because there is still a great deal of interest in this post, unfortunately, I decided to update it one last time. I hope you all wake up from your own Bank of America Nightmare soon. Wishing you all the best, -Martie
Another sleepless night over our Bank of America Nightmare, a nightmare which has been mostly explained in my previous blog post, Bank of America Nightmare… Wake Me Up!, where I was keeping you updated on our attempts to resolve the problems we were and are having with Bank of America (BofA).
Since that blog post was getting too long as a result of the Update section, I decided to create a separate blog post which can update you on our experiences, but without all the unnecessary detail, like specific dates and times.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters Calls BofA –
On Phone with BofA for 2 Hours (Must Watch)
Although, it is almost too depressing to write about, I hope it helps you to know that you are not the only ones in a BofA nightmare. And perhaps it will help us to get things resolved with Bank of America, or force them to take a look at how they treat their customers and at how incompetently they do business.
There are a few resources I put together in my original blog post, which you might find useful if you are in a similar situation with BofA or in home loan modification hell. Here’s the link: BofA Home Loan Modifications: RESOURCES
So, here is the continually updated Bank of America Nightmare – the newer updates are toward the bottom of this numbered list:
- To recap, due to health-related reasons, our income dropped by 50% in February 2009. Luckily, March 2009 the Obama Home Retention/Making Homes Affordable Program took effect. Unfortunately, our bank, Bank of America, after numerous phone calls on my part, in March and April, claimed to know nothing about that program, and to have no marketing/informational materials about BofA loan modification programs, and suggested that we call in a few months. However, I could not afford to wait a few months, so I continued to call repeatedly, several times a week, week-after-week, seeking information about how to apply for a loan modification. The lesson: keep calling, talk to many reps, you’ll get many different answers, and somewhere in there, eventually, you will find someone who knows something.
- At the same time that we suffered a big financial hit, we learned that our house had lost about a third of its value – we purchased it for $660k and five years later it was worth $400k – hence selling the house was not an option.
- After an endless nightmare of phone calls with uninformed, unhelpful, and uncaring BofA representatives (see original blog post), I finally got someone to explain that they had nothing formal – no form, no written instructions – to apply for a loan modification, just write a letter explaining why you need a loan modification and attach a budget of your income and expenses.
- Based on that phone call, we sent BofA our letter and budget, but we were denied. We sent another letter and another budget and incessantly called, and were denied, again. The lesson: don’t give up – no matter what.
- So, feeling rather desperate, I wrote a deeply personal and emotional email to Ken Lay (at the time, the BofA CEO) and copied other executives. As a result of that email, a lady from the executives office called me to say that she had assigned a BofA employee, Jennifer L., to our case to help process the BofA loan modification, and told me to expect her call the next day. Apparently, according to them, there is nothing in the Obama Home Retention program that requires them to make loan modifications and, hence, their loan modification program is unrelated to the Obama plan.
- The truth is that there is nothing in the Obama Home Retention guidelines to the banks, which I read, requiring the banks to make loan modifications. Instead, it tells the banks that if it is in their interest to make the loan modification, then they encourage them to do so, the government suggests some guidelines, and they will give the bank $1,000 per loan. You would think that after the huge bailout the banks got, the government would have tied requirements that the banks lend money to small businesses and help people avoid foreclosures, which in the long run would have helped the overall economy. Instead, the banks took the bailout money, and they took the 0% interest rates from the government and bought up stocks and assets – they made themselves wealthier. So much for the little guy!
- In late September 2009, BofA sent us a home loan modification contract – their terms, not ours – but having no choice or negotiating power, we signed it, notarized it, sent it Fed-Ex overnight, and faxed it to BofA.
- BofA notified us in the contract, by phone, and by mail that we were to skip the October 2009 payment, while they processed the loan modification, and told us the specific amount we were to pay starting November 2009. I verified, repeatedly, with our BofA contact that they did NOT want us to make the October payment, and I was repeatedly assured to NOT make that payment because the amount was going to be added to our principal and if we made the payment it would ‘complicate’ things. So we didn’t. (Big mistake!)
- November 2009 we made our first lower payment as per the loan modification contract. In mid-November, we started getting phone calls by their Debt Collection department for missing the October payment and for being short on our November payment. I explained to them that we had gotten a loan modification, we were instructed not to make the October payment, and the November payment was less as per the new modified loan amount stated in the contract. They said that they had not been notified of the new contract.
- From November 2009 – March 2010 we received harassing phone calls from BofA’s debt collection department. They stated they had reported us to the credit agencies. And each and every time, I had to explain the entire situation to them. They said that after they receive the contract, they will then notify the agencies and correct our record. This bothered me enormously, having always had extremely high credit scores and an excellent credit history, and now that was being destroyed through no fault of my own. I had not missed a single payment, the bank screwed up, but the credit agencies would not know that. Anyone who checked our credit during this period would think we have been delinquent. That made me extremely angry. I begged the debt collection department reps, repeatedly, to contact Jennifer L., our contact in the executives office who handled our loan modification, but they would not; and they also refused to call any other BofA department to verify that we did indeed have a loan mod contract with BofA that clearly stated for us not to make the October payment and specified the new lower monthly amounts. So, I guess it is easier to destroy our credit histories and our reputation, than to make a phone call to one of your departments. Thanks!
- When the endless calls and letters from the BofA debt collection department started, we called repeatedly and left countless voice-mails with our ‘assigned’ rep, Jennifer L., but she never answered her phone again, nor ever returned a voice-mail after October. We hoped she could clear up why the debt collection department was calling us and make it right. Instead, we were back to dealing with whatever nameless, faceless BofA customer rep happened to take our call, who in turn would bounce us around to countless other reps in countless other departments, each time having to retell our story, until, a few hours later, we were ‘accidentally’ disconnected, or we parted with no resolution. They could not give us names, phone numbers or emails of anyone to whom we could speak directly about our problem.
- After more nightmare scenarios with countless other reps who either knew nothing or gave us completely wrong information, and the ever-increasing barrage of calls and letters from the BofA debt collection department (see original blog post), I contacted the BofA Customer Service on Twitter, after reading an article about companies who were using social media.
- BofA on Twitter led me to Karen who was a breath of fresh air. I tweeted for help, she asked for my phone number, and she called me. What I appreciated most about her was that she really listened; she really wanted to help; she apologized for what we were going through and promised to not drop my case until she handed us off to someone who would help. I was so thankful for that bit of humanity that I started to cry toward the end of our call. She put me in touch with a customer advocacy representative, who was not nearly as interested in helping us as was Karen. The customer advocacy rep spoke to me once, promised to call me before the end of the week, but two weeks later, I had not heard back from her. So I tweeted Karen and after intervening again, the customer advocate finally called me back.
- At the same time, I looked through my notes for a contact number, which Jennifer L. had given us to call while she was out of the office, back when the executive office had assigned her to help us get the loan modification and she was still answering and returning calls. Although six months after she had given us that number, I called it and left a voice mail. It belonged to someone named David P., who actually called me back a couple of weeks later.
- David P., my new hero, acknowledged that he could see our loan modification contract in the system. He apologized, but apparently the contract was never forwarded to the other departments who needed to be notified. I mentioned the harassing phone calls from the debt collection department and he put a note in the system to stop to the calls from the debt collection department. He said he would expedite the processing of our loan modification contract. He said everything looked good, and it should all be taken care of within five business days. Yay! The light at the end of the tunnel. I would have given David the biggest hug had we been in the same room. I was so grateful.
- A week passed and I heard nothing. Two weeks later, David P. called and said it was going to take a bit longer. The customer advocacy rep, whom I also called, acknowledged that the contract was with the ‘closing’ department getting processed and it might be a couple of weeks. That’s okay, I had waited this long, I could wait two more weeks.
- A couple of weeks later, David P. said he would have to send out a new contract, identical to the one we signed, but with a new date because the old contract had ‘expired’ because BofA was going through a change in their system and the contract had not ‘closed properly.’ What did that mean? Couldn’t they just cross out the date at the top write in a newer date, we could all initial the change, and be done with it? No, that was not possible.
- At this point, I was feeling concerned, having heard various reasons as to what happened to our home loan modification contract from various reps: it was never processed, or it was allowed to expire, it was never sent to the appropriate departments, it was cancelled, it was lost, or it is in the process of being made final and permanent in five days. Why wasn’t there one answer? Were they guessing at what the answer might be?
- I asked David P. for assurance that the new contract would be identical to the old contract, but just with a new date, because I was still concerned with the debt collection department having reported us to the credit agencies and I wanted to make sure that the new contract reflected the fact that we had an agreement in place back in October 2009 that clearly directed us not to make the October payment and to begin making the new lower payments November 1, 2009. ‘Yes, absolutely,’ if anything, he said, it would be in our benefit because the new contract would include the period from October 2009 through March 2010, but would then extend out five years from the new date.
- David P. sent a new contract, which added nearly $10,000 to our principal, due to “delinquent payments.” However, the October 2009 payment they told us NOT to make and the reduced payments we were supposed to and did make from November 2009 to the present, do not equal $10,000, in fact, it is just a little over $5,000. So what are the other $5K for… penalties and fees? Clearly the new contract was not ‘identical’ to our original contract.
- We, naturally, refused to sign that new contract. I was not going to sign anything that stated we were delinquent in any way, when we had done exactly what BofA told us to do and we had never missed a payment to them and we had a contract. Does that mean anything anymore? How about integrity?
- This had gotten out of hand. So, I sent another email to the new CEO and copying the executive officers at BofA whose emails I could find. Weeks passed without hearing a word and then we got a new representative assigned to us, Kelly C.. She was going to be our new hero? We learned that Jennifer L., David P. and Kelly C. all work for some group in the President’s office, some type of customer advocacy group. She knew Jennifer L. and David P., but could not explain what happened to our original contract, except to say that we needed a new contract. She acknowledged David’s contract was a mistake, it must have been some glitch in some automated program that added the delinquent $10k amount to our principal and printed out the new contract. (Why was the contract not checked before it was mailed?)
- Kelly C. could not explain what the $10k was for, but it didn’t matter because she was going to draw up a new contract, which would be close to our original contract in language. We received it – although they mailed it to the wrong address – and we notarized it and Fed-Exed it overnight back to Kelly C., anxious to be done with this nightmare.
- But ‘oops’ they screwed up that contract as well by typing the wrong month in some part of the contract. Kelly C. said they would have to do another new contract. We also mentioned that, although the contract had our correct address, BofA Fed-Exed it to the wrong address – thank God the Fed-Ex delivery lady called me to get the correct address. Apologies from them, and we waited for the next contract. But it didn’t come and we didn’t hear from anyone. What now?
- We contacted Kelly C. and finally got a hold of her after many voicemails and phone calls. She had the fourth contract ready to go and would be sending it out the next day. We didn’t receive the contract, nor did anyone call to explain what happened. We tried repeatedly to call many times, leaving voice mails and after a couple of weeks we got a call back. That fourth contract had to be re-done, she had spoken to her VP and because they now had a new ‘format,’ the new contract had to be re-done in that format. Apologies were given for not following up and we waited for the fifth contract.
- The fifth contract was Fed-Exed to the wrong address… AGAIN. The Fed-Ex delivery lady called me… AGAIN. She delivered the next new contract… AGAIN. But the fifth contract did not look like our original contract, which we signed, mailed, and had been abiding by since October 2009. The new ‘format’ included many legalese paragraphs, which seemed to be asking us to give up some rights and to shift some bank responsibility to us.
- Although I am not a lawyer, I am an intelligent person who, after reading the fifth contract, was concerned, in particular, about the last clause which made us responsible for providing to Bank of America within ten days of their request for any document ‘related to the Security Instrument, Note and/or modification’ which ‘is lost, misplaced, misstated, inaccurately reflects the true and correct terms and conditions of the loan as modified, or is otherwise missing.’ Are you kidding!
- I recommended to my fiancé/co-borrower that we not sign this contract. I did not want to be held liable for any documents BofA loses, given their track record for losing, not processing, allowing to expire, or whatever their excuse-du-jour is for screwing up our first loan modification contract from October 2009. That contract is a case in doing everything right and having to deal with customer reps who, in reference to our contract, claimed to have not received it; or they received it but didn’t process it; or they received it but didn’t enter into the system in time and it expired; or they received it, entered it into the system, but didn’t submit it to the other departments; or they cancelled it; or they lost it; or a myriad of other excuses we have heard in the nearly last ten months… which have led to and are a part of this nightmare.
- That clause sounds like a company trying to cover their butt for past, current, and future mistakes, while holding us responsible. No, I refused to sign that. I want someone to explain to me why our original contract which they created, with their terms, which we signed and mailed back overnight, which they had clearly accepted as evidenced by their calls and letters directing us to skip the October payment, directing us on what new amount to start making November 1st, and directing us where to mail it. That sure sounds to me like they processed that contract. That sounds like the original contract was considered a binding contract by Bank of America. So, someone please tell me, why that contract is no longer in play here and why we need to sign contract number 5. Anyone? I have often been told that I have the patience of a saint, but I am so ready to hang up my halo! Enough already.
- In May 2010, after receiving the fifth contract, we contacted Kelly C. and explained our concerns about that clause. She got testy with my fiancé/co-borrower, asking sarcastically if we were expecting her to do another contract. Personally, I want them to honor the original contract we had in place in October 2009 and process it. And if the date on it ‘expired’ then cross out the date, initial it, send it back to us, we’ll initial it, and we are done.
- Then, another complication in mid-May. I went online to pay our homeowners’ insurance directly with my insurance company – which has also been my auto insurance company since high school. I say this because after decades of dealing directly with them, I was surprised to learn that Bank of America, without notifying me, had sent a notice to my insurance company to bill BofA directly – NOT me. Hence, I was not able to pay my homeowners’ insurance online, early and directly to my insurance company, like I have done the entire time we have owned this house.
- We contacted Kelly C. at BofA, wanting to know if BofA had contacted my insurance company to change the billing from me to BofA for the homeowners’ insurance. She said they had NOT. I wanted to make sure, because I did not want a big complicated mess with my paying the insurance and then BofA paying it as well. I was upset, given that for the last five years I have paid the home’s insurance and taxes directly, as we requested when we first bought the house. I have never missed a payment, so why would BofA make that change now? No, Kelly C. emphasized, BofA had not done that. So I contacted my insurance company, asked them to switch it back to billing me and I paid them for the year, as usual, and early. Easy enough, right? No… there’s more.
- First, back to the home loan modification contract… Recap: the fifth contract was sent to us in mid-May, which we refused to sign due to the paragraphs to which I objected, and Kelly C., reluctantly, agreed to create another new sixth contract – which I would like it to be identical to our original contract of October 2009, but God only knows what the sixth one will say. Unfortunately, as of mid-June we had NOT received a replacement contract. We also noticed that after our conversation with Kelly C. regarding BofA switching our homeowners’ insurance billing to BofA, we were not able to get a hold of her for a few weeks. We needed to know what the status of the contract was, but no one was answering the calls, nor returning the voice-mails… again.
- The last week of June, I received a check from my insurance agent refunding me an amount for switching my homeowners’ insurance to a higher deductible. First of all, I never switched to a higher deductible. I have always opted for the lowest deductible with my car, and I have done that with our homeowners’ insurance, as well. Who authorized my insurance company to change my deductible?
- So I called my local insurance agent’s office. First, I wanted to verify that the billing was going to come to me directly and they verified that they had successfully switched the billing back to me in May, as I requested. Then I asked them why the deductible had been raised. They explained that someone had switched my policy to a higher deductible in April. I told her I had NOT switched it to a higher deductible and I wanted it switched back to the lower deductible, as a result I was not going to cash their refund check. So she said to mail them the check and they would switch our policy back to the lower deductible. It seemed that whenever Bank of America switched the billing to them, they must have also switched me to a higher deductible. Can they do that?
- Later, the same last week in June, I received a document from BofA. Apparently, they had created an escrow account for the homeowners’ insurance… the same homeowners’ insurance which I had already paid to our insurance company. BofA was asking in that letter for us to pay them the full amount by July 20, 2010. In effect, they were asking me to pay them for something I had already paid directly to my insurance company, as I have done the last five years.
- No sooner I receive the notification of this new escrow account and their request for payment by July 20, and lo and behold in the mail I get a check from the insurance company’s corporate office refunding me the full amount that I had paid them for the homeowners’ insurance, noting Bank of America in the upper right section. Since I don’t want to be late, I told my fiancé to deposit the check and let’s pay BofA before July 20, because we cannot assume that we will be able to resolve this new problem with BofA in time, and I don’t want anymore calls from their debt collection department for things that are not of our doing.
- So, now I have another nightmare on the horizon trying to undo this mess. Why did BofA pay our homeowners insurance, when I have paid it on time the whole time we have owned this house? Why did they create an escrow account? Why were we not notified? Why did Kelly state that they had NOT created an escrow account back in mid-May when we asked her? Why did they change our deductible? Why did they change the deductible without notifying us? Why did I make Bank of America my bank?
- This house that I used to love so much, is now becoming something that I associate with this nightmare. It feels like an anchor dragging us down. The continuous stress, the constant battling, and the inability to resolve anything with Bank of America, is a nightmare from which I need to wake up.
- As of July 8, 2010, we have not received the sixth new contract and last night we received another call from the debt collection department, but I was not able to take the call and they did not leave a voicemail. We called them immediately back, but no one answered, except a machine informing us of their hours of operation. If you recall, David P., one of the BofA reps from the executives advocacy office, had put a note in the system to stop these calls from the debt collection department, so why are they starting up again? What is going on now? I stayed up all night worrying again. My health is adversely affected by this mess. I need a resolution soon.
- We received another phone call in the evening from the BofA debt collection department July 8th. However, when the debt collection people call they do not identify themselves or their company or why they are calling – bad practice. Instead, they ask for your name and for the last four digits of your social security number. This particular phone call began with a lady asking to speak to my fiancé/co-borrower, even though she called my cell phone, and I told her she had reached me at my phone, and asked if I could I help her. At this point, still not having identified herself or her company, I asked her why she was calling but she was reluctant about answering any questions and had some attitude. Instead, the lady asked me for my name again and the last four digits of my social security number, which I refused to give her. I asked her if she was calling from Bank of America and she reluctantly answered yes. I asked her if she was calling from the debt collection department, and she did not seem to want to answer that. So I told her, that for all I knew she could be anybody and I was not about to give a stranger my personal information. She offered to give me a phone number I could call to reach her, but I refused to do that. I told her that if she was calling from the BofA debt collection department, that all I was going to say to her was that we have never missed or been late on any payment. And I asked her to call Kelly C., the name of the lady from the BofA Executives Office for Customer Advocacy, who is working on fixing the mess that BofA created after botching our modification from last Fall. I was angry and I hung up. She did not call back. At least not yet.
- Our contact, Kelly C., in the Executives’ Customer Advocacy office (or whatever the official title of that department is) called us on July 9 and she has contract #6 ready to send to us. Hopefully, nothing will be wrong with this contract and nothing will be objectionable and we’ll get this signed and submitted, and they will process it and communicate it to all the necessary departments. Hopefully, the mess they have made of our credit history and scores will all be corrected and made whole. And, hopefully, we never have to deal with any of them again. (No offense intended.)
- We received the contract (version #6) and once again we went down to our local BofA bank – where you can get free notarization of BofA documents – and FedExed it overnight. We confirmed with Kelly C. that she received it. She explained that the next step is for them to send it out to all of the relevant departments and hope that they process it. Of course, this is where we were back in October 2009 – waiting for BofA to process the contract. I hope I am not still updating this blog post one year from now!
- I read a great article today (8-4-2010) on the Huffington Post about the Obama Administration’s failed foreclosure program, the Making Homes Affordable plan. It’s sad to think that so many people that were promised help only received extended foreclosures to help the banks “to continue carrying the loans on their books at full value, delaying loss recognition.” Extending the foreclosures, pretending that these people would receive permanent modified loans, helped home prices to stop their free fall and to stabilize the housing market. This is a must read article! Here is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/04/extend-and-pretend-the-ob_n_668609.html
- I wrote a blog you might find important, relevant and informative: Families Living On The Edge Of Homelessness | Foreclosures. Hope you find it useful or at least eye-opening.
- In mid-August we received in the mail a letter from Kelly C. stating that we were in no way delinquent in any way, yada, yada, yada, and I guess this is so we can present it to the credit agencies to clear our record? I appreciate the letter, but I hope they themselves will formally and officially clear things up with the credit agencies and make our credit history whole again. I am so tired of dealing with all of this.
- [10-8-2010] Well, we are STILL getting notices saying that we are delinquent even though we have NEVER missed a payment or been late – I have mortgage payments set up on auto-pay with our joint NOT-B-of-A-Bank – even though it is October 8th, 2010, more than 2 months after signing modified loan contract version #6. Yes, #6 because they have lost the previous contracts, or they forgot to enter them into their system, or they did not forward the contracts to all of their departments who needed it, or they typed the incorrect dates and/or information into the other 5 contracts we signed going back to October 2009. Pick your excuse, we have heard them all – and sometimes we have have heard all of the excuses about the same exact version of the contract! After we signed loan modification contract version #6 we were told that they would make sure to forward it to all of their departments and they would take care of clearing our credit and we would not have to worry about any more delinquent notices. We got another delinquent notice last night.
- [10-8-2010] Another issue with which we are still dealing is the modification of the smaller mortgage – our original mortgage was split into one large and one small – unfortunately, the specialist, whom Kelly C. assigned to modify our second loan back in July, has not returned a single phone call or kept us informed of the status of the second loan – not to mention Kelly C. who has also not returned our voicemails in the last couple of months.
- [10-8-2010] Ironically, our original mortgage was completely handled by Cindy S., a Vice President of mortgages at Bank of America. She assured us that in a year or two we could consolidate the two loans and re-finance them. Of course, that was 2005 when the value of homes was growing at a rapid, increasingly un-affordable and apparently unsustainable, rate in California. We bought at the end of the peak of the market and it has decreased ever since. Our $660,000 home – a modest home in the Bay Area – is now worth $400k. And we cannot refinance. We are stuck with mortgages that were designed to balloon with huge payments, to be interest only, but ultimately were offered to us as loans that would be temporary until the value of our home increased and we could consolidate and refinance. At the time, because of my concerns, Cindy S. assured me that it would not be a problem, they do this all the time. If so, then there are a lot of us in the same boat.
- [10-8-2010 – 10:30am PST] I am watching at this moment, on C-SPAN, the President and CEO of BofA, Brian Moynihan, speaking at the National Press Club about the Home Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis – you might want to watch the video on YouTube or on C-SPAN. I wonder if he knows how his bank is treating us, his clients, and so many others? I wonder if he knows how insensitive and inefficient and incompetent his employees seem to be to us who deal with them?
- PBS is producing a series that should begin running soon on Upcoming Ways to Deal with the Foreclosure Crisis (PBS). This article is a worth a quick read.
- [10-9-2010 – 11:34pm PST] Yesterday, Bank of America became the first bank to halt foreclosures in all 50 states. Just read this article: ‘Foreclosure Fraud Inquiry Planned by Up To 40 States’ regarding the furor that “has been growing as evidence has surfaced that mortgage lenders have been using flawed court papers to evict homeowners.”
- [3-11-2011] Looking at my comments from October 2010, five months ago, we still call Kelly C. every week and leave voicemails and we still have not gotten a return call from her. The issue being that the lady she assigned to handle refinancing our smaller mortgage loan, which will require full payment soon, has never called us back from the initial call and is no longer at her old phone number. (Fired, moved to another department? Not sure, but a number of contacts at BofA have ‘disappeared’ and can no longer be reached at their phone numbers. Kelly C., from the President’s Customer Advocacy Department, we call you every week, we leave you messages every week, and we don’t hear from you. Five months later we keep calling because we don’t know who else to call. We could really use an advocate. I am so worried about that final balloon payment, we really need you or for you to put us in touch with the right ‘new’ person. (This is so stressful and frustrating… What a nightmare!)
- The Atlantic Wire Article: Anonymous Fires First Volley at Bank of America by John Hudson, March 14, 2011
Excerpt: “The “hacktivist” group Anonymous has published its first batch of internal emails which it claims demonstrate mortgage fraud at Bank of America.”
- PoliticusUSA Article: Bank of America’s Con-Game, by Cassandra Vert, March 15, 2011
Excerpt: “The first round of Wikileaks email dumps from Bank of America support accusations that BofA deliberately mismanaged mortgages it was servicing in order to generate higher fees and cheat mortgage owners.”
The Next Housing Shock – Fraudulent Foreclosures –
60 Minutes 4/3/2011
Fraudulent Foreclosures & Fake Notes: In case you missed this incredible piece by 60 Minutes, airing on April 3, 2011, about fraudulent foreclosures and fabricated/fraudulent notes, entitled ‘The Next Housing Shock.’
- [4/18/2011] REFORMS FOR AMERICAN HOMEOWNERS AND CONSUMERS: President Obama Signs the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, May 20, 2009 | [I found very little detailed information on the Whitehouse website about the housing crisis and help for homeowners. This new law (2009) is supposed to expand the President’s HAMP program, which was ineffective at helping homeowners. The new law “Establishes right of a homeowner to know who owns their mortgage” and yet whenever we ask Bank of America reps, they don’t know who owns our mortgage or they can’t say. Has anyone had success with this new law, promising to make it easier for homeowners who are upside down on their mortgage to be able to refinance?]
- [4/18/2011] Once again, Bank of America seems to have changed the billing for our homeowners insurance from me to them. I have made all of our homeowners insurance payments, since we purchased our home, not once late, always 4-6 weeks before the due date, to my insurance company. This has been my insurance company for the last 30 years – since high school. Without notification from Bank of America, they have once again – remember, they changed the billing last year, in April 2010, to themselves, demanding we pay them for the homeowners insurance I had already paid directly to my insurance company. It took forever to untangle that mess last year, so my stomach dropped last night when I was checking online with my insurance company and discovered that the billing for the homeowners insurance had once again been changed to BofA. I am so exhausted from dealing with BofA! The stress is enormous. We have been trying, every week for over 8 months, to get a hold of our last assigned contact at BofA, Kelly C. and she never answers and never returns a voicemail. The thought of trying to resolve this for the second time is just…. I have no words.
Produce the Note – Fighting Foreclosure – CNN
Fight Foreclosure by Demanding the Banks Produce the Note: An older story from CNN, posted on YouTube on June 23, 2008, about fighting foreclosures by demanding the note might be worth a watch. And here are a few sites with related information on this strategy: Produce the Note: How To by the Consumer Warning Network; Who Owns Your Mortgage? “Produce the Note” Movement Helps Stall Foreclosures by the Huffington Post; and The Homeowner Revolution website covers all of these related issues.
- [4/19/2011] This short article is worth a read: Bank of America set to write down principal on California mortgages, Housing Wire, March 28, 2011
- [5/9/2011] This article talks about how Bank of America, as well as other banks, in exchange for the opportunity to save your home, have embedded in the fine print of new modified loans a waiver from ever suing the bank for anything related to the loan, “forcing homeowners into a corner: You want a chance at saving your home? Then you’ll have to waive your rights.” | ProPublica: “In Fine Print, Banks Require Struggling Homeowners to Waive Rights,” by Paul Kiel, May 9, 2011
- [Early July 2011] Unfortunately, my fiancé was laid off in the first week of July leaving us a “no-income” family. The economy is in a tailspin, unemployment rates are double digit in California, and we have no idea how long it will be before he finds another job. We are hearing of people who have been unemployed two years now and we need to prepare for the worst.
- [Mid-July 2011] We decided to contact a lawyer to discuss our options regarding our home and Bank of America. We have some stocks, IRAs, savings and have not missed any payments on our mortgage, however, the lawyers point out that we could end up exhausting our nest egg and end up homeless. They mention that it might be smarter financially to buy a home in a less expensive area with the nest egg and avoid homelessness. The housing market, as we know, is severely depressed and we may be able to buy a home in cash elsewhere. They advise us to stop paying our mortgage payments and property taxes, but to continue to pay the homeowner’s insurance. The lawyers refer to this as a strategic default. As someone who has always paid all my bills on time or early, paid off my car early, the thought of not paying something does not sit well with me. However, I do think we should start looking for another home. Unfortunately, for us to afford the home it will have to be on the periphery of the very expensive Silicon Valley, where we have grown up and currently live. That saddens me, but at least we have that option, which so many others do not.
- [July-September 2011] We continue to make our mortgage payments, but it is quickly depleting our nest egg and forcing us to look at real estate further and further away from the Bay Area, from our families, from the good jobs. It seems that the available inventory of homes on the periphery are being bought up faster than we can look at them, real estate agents are telling us that they are being bought up by Bay Area residents in similar situations to ours. It’s a race.
- [October 2011] We are quickly running out of money and are forced to go into the advised ‘strategic default’ and miss our first mortgage payment. I feel uneasy with the decision, but the stark reality, as explained to us, is that we can continue to make the payments, deplete our savings, and end up homeless anyway. Instead, by using what money we have left to buy a home in cash, we can ensure that a bank will never be able to kick us out of our home. Now we are in a race with the bank. I had been reading that banks could take as little as two months to foreclose or in some cases they might take nearly a year. Will we be able to find a house to buy and move into before BofA forecloses on us? The images I’ve seen on the news of people being evicted and losing their belongings and furnishings is terrifying. I have an advanced degree. I have had great and important jobs until I got sick. I have had an excellent credit history and rating. And here I was facing a foreclosure that would destroy my and my fiancé’s credit for a decade and potentially leave us on the streets. Scary, embarrassing, humiliating, degrading, depressing… the list of things we were feeling was endless.
- [November 2011] During Thanksgiving week we found a home on a Saturday, we saw it on Sunday, and we made an offer that Monday. We bought the new house in cash for a fraction of what our old home cost. We continue to live in our Bay Area home and began to pack and prepare for the possibility that we might lose our home if my fiancé is unable to find a job before the foreclosure proceedings begin. If he does find a job, then we can always rent out the new home and earn some rental income. We love the Bay Area, we are really hoping that things work out.
- [December 2011] The worst Christmas ever. We continued to pack things, look for work, and prepare the new home for move-in or renters. The unemployment situation is getting worse in the Bay Area and in the country. More and more people from great neighborhoods are losing their homes because they are losing their jobs. Foreclosure signs are popping up everywhere. We are losing neighbors who have owned their homes for decades. It is so overwhelmingly sad that I don’t have the words.
- [January 2012] There is no turning back now, foreclosure is inevitable unless we can pay the house in full. However, we cannot sell the house because we bought it for $660k and it is worth $400k now. We have paid nearly $300k in interest and have earned no equity in the house. When my mother first purchased that same house in the 1970s she paid $60k and when she sold it to us in 2005 for $660k, it was a good deal. The real estate market continued to increase through 2006, but then prices began to stall and then precipitously dropped – unprecedented in the Bay Area.
- [February-July 2012] We continued to maintain both homes, pay homeowners insurance on both homes, and wait for the bank to tell us when they planned to auction off the house. My fiancé began to focus his job search in the new location, knowing that we would not be able to come up with $660k to pay in full to keep our old home, my childhood home.
- [August 2012] We find out that our home is going to be auctioned off in September. Now it is time to finish moving our things into our new home and wait for the inevitable. As much as you know what is coming, it isn’t until there is an actual date set for the auctioning off of your home that it hits you that you are losing your home. All the projects, all the home improvements, all the gardening, all the memories, all the hopes and dreams and unfulfilled plans are auctioned off as well. You failed. You lost your home.
- [Early September 2012] The house was scheduled to be auctioned off in early September and it was. A flipper bought it and quickly put it up for sale. Now someone would be able to buy our old home for less than we paid six years ago. It made me sad, but there was closure in the auction and it was time to look forward and get on with our lives. There was also huge relief in knowing that I could finally wake up from my Bank of America nightmare.
- [Late September 2012] We officially moved into our new home and, fortuitously, my fiancé found a great job, an even better job than the one he lost the year prior. Our savings were wiped out. We had been to battle, but survived. Things were finally looking up. Maybe now we could begin to breathe again. It was a horrible nightmare, but we finally woke up.
Modification Program Created Confusion
Through the Mortgage Crisis
Fraud | Testimonial by Wanda Bowlby
Home Loan Modification
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