Answers came shortly after it was announced that I was headed towards the media. It wasn’t until then that I received answers that I had been asking for, for three long months. I decided to stage a little sit in on Monday morning so I can get information on a loan modification that went bad. If you take a moment and read through the previous posts on CitiMortgage, you will understand that I had called and spoke with a number of CitiMortgage employees.
Long story short: In July I applied for a loan modification through our mortgage company, CitiMortgage. On August 17, I was told we were “approved”. Paper work never arrived even after repeated attempts. November 3rd phone call resulted in them telling me we were denied. November 30th, decided to get face to face with the company to see what answers we get.
I walked in to my local Citibank branch and was greeted by Sonia. She ended up being amazing to work. I briefly told her my story and she told me she would go to bat for me because after all that I told her, she said no one should have had to deal with that. She got on the phone and called the application status line. After 30 minutes they tell her that it was withdrawn and she needed to call the loss mitigation department. She calls them and is on hold for about 15 minutes. When someone gets on the other end, she tells them who she is and that she would like to just go right to the supervisor because “a customer is here and her account is really messed up bad”. She was told the department was closed. UHM, yeah, the supervisor department was closed for the day, a Monday of all days, one of the busiest work days and they are “closed”. Guess they leave their untrained, unprofessional employees to steer the boat. After another 20 minutes on hold, suddenly the department is open again and a supervisore was located. Sonia explained my situation and told them that I was prepared to go to the media with my story if I didn’t get answers.
They agreed to chat with us. (who would have thought!)
1. Initial loan modification program was never verbally approved. What I had come to find out is this: You know when you want to download something or fill out an online form and it always asks if you agree to the terms to check the box and hit submit. Well, Roger never did that part of the application prequalification process, which means, nothing was done. Cindy thinks the box was not made available to him at that time, or that he just didn’t do it. I am guessing that it is pretty safe to say that the agreement terms box was there since this program started, so I am going with ‘he just didn’t do it’ as my answer.
2. During the entire time I called (at least 10-15 times) no one EVER looked back deeper into my account to see that the little box was not checked. They just kept telling me they would put in a request to have the paperwork resent. Well the paperwork wasn’t ever going to be sent because that little terms box was never checked and if they had looked, it is possible that none of this would have happened because they would have caught the error right then and there instead of prolonging this process.
3. After further discussion with Cindy she informs me that the loan modification program that Obama set up may not have been the best thing for us anyway. Odd don’t you think? I was told that they will start my mortgage rate at 2% and go up 1% each year until it reached the Freddie Mac rate or my current rate. Ok, sounds good, I get that part. They also extend your mortgage to 40 years. Well it is kind of long, considering we only have 24 years left on our loan…so to start all over with a 40 year loan…well that is just scary. BUT that isn’t all. I was told that at the end of the 40 year term, hold on to your seats everyone….I would have to pay a balloon payment of ….. $180,000.00 —what the? So get this picture, I am 80 years old, my house is FINALLY paid for, and I still owe $180,000.00. GREAT program ya got there Pres. Not sure HOW this helps the people…sounds more like it is helping the banks, mortgage companies and the government get richer and us little people a whole lot poorer.
4. Ok yeah, so that isn’t an option for me, what do you have left for me Cindy? It is possible we qualify for a forbearance program. What does that involve you ask? I’ll tell you. I was told that I would be able to pay up to 50% of my monthly loan amount for 6 months. Sounds fantastic right? Not so much. At the end of the 6 months, during that 7th month, you are to pay a balloon payment that equals 3 months worth of mortgage payments, PLUS your 7th month payment. So during that 7th month, you are paying 4 months of mortgage payments just to get caught up. In addition to that lovely news, you DO get charged late fees and it IS reported to credit reporting agencies. Yeah, its a win win situation don’t you think?
5. The reason that we were denied the second time around was because of my husbands lack of work and we just simply did not make enough money to qualify. So again, it’s so great how there is all this help out there for those facing financial hurdles. Are you getting the picture on how bogus the whole modification process works and how our wonderful banking systems work yet?
6. What I was able to do is get Citimortgage to reverse the negative charges against us on our credit reports. I should receive a ‘letter’ :::rolling my eyes here::: within the next 30 days to show that they have taken corrective measures. They were going to “open up a review request” to have a $30 charge removed. What is this charge for you ask? It was for a ‘drive by inspection’. WTH? Yes, they charge you $15 a month so that someone can drive past your home to see if you are still living there or if you have abandoned it. I of course argued that charge. Why on earth would I have to pay for something that was never my doing in the first place? I tell ya, it’s enough to make you wish you never had a mortgage to begin with. Where is my big lottery win? I can’t get away from Citi fast enough!!!
7. I was there for 2.5 hours! Sonia was a great asset to me and I intend on giving credit where credit is due and I am going to send a letter to the branch manager commending Sonia’s professionalism, her willingness to help me no matter what, and her empathy and sincerity over the hole ordeal. Karma…if you put something good out there, something good will come back. It’s the holidays, and everyone likes to hear praise and compliments. It’s my gift to her.
So, all in all, I have no options that are beneficial to me, but that’s ok. It may have been a long uphill battle but I did get an eye opening lesson and I know now to make sure I ask all the necessary questions when dealing with CitiMortgage or any other company for that matter. I knew from day one that I was unsure about the whole process, and I come to find out, I should have trusted my gut instinct.
Here are some tips I can offer to you so that you don’t get stuck in a trap like I was.
A. Make sure you take excellent notes from day one.
B. Get names of everyone you speak to and their id #’s.
C. Jot the date and time down that you called and the length of your call.
D. Keep calling…don’t give up! They are “banking” on you letting things slide, don’t give them that satisfaction.
E. Be sure to ask if there are any ‘balloon’ payments that will need to be made at any time. They can project what your payments will be, so don’t be afraid to ask.
F. Find out about the length of your loan modification. Are they starting all over with 40 years no matter how much you’ve already paid on your account?
G. Make the best decision for you. While you can get outside opinions, only do what you can live with.
H. Use your voice…you have one for a reason so don’t be afraid to use it.
I. Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
Keep in mind too…WHO is this helping exactly? Will it benefit you in the long run, or is it just a temporary quick fix to where other people are going to profit on your misfortune?
And lastly, keep speaking out and posting on blogs, writing letters to your state representatives, our President and anyone else who is willing to listen. The more people that speak up, the more awareness that is created. This is how we can start to make changes! Right here…right now because I am not going to fall victim to the banking system or credit card companies any longer. I am choosing to believe that that some good will come of my situation and I will be sure to let you know if any response is received from any state reps or even the Pres.
Sure has been one heck of a bumpy ride! I’ll be glad when I can put this all behind me now.