The letter written below was my response to CHASE BANK after being declined for the Making Home Affordable Program endorsed by the Obama administration; twice. Although the President may have had the best of intentions when instituting this program, the reality of it is that it is basically worthless, as banks (in my particular instance CHASE) make it almost impossible for anyone to successfully re-structure their home loan. It seems that everything this bank does is designed to make the individual give up on the process. And although I refused to give up and stuck it out for over a year, in the end it made no difference.
It is important to note that my reply to CHASE also included twenty (20) pages of back-up (supporting) documentation. I copied both the White House and my state’s Governor’s office, among others, on this letter.
I thought this would be interesting to those of you going through a similar experience. TGO
To whom it may concern:
For whatever its worth at this point, I am writing to respond/comment on your letter dated August 18, 2010 (attached) which was received August 26, 2010. I realize that this is a standard letter that is issued to all mortgagors who are declined for a loan modification, but there are a few things that need to be pointed out for the record.
First of all, the letter states: “Chase Home LLC (“Chase”) is writing in response to your recent request regarding a loan modification…” There is nothing recent about my request. In fact, my initial request for a loan modification began over a year ago. Refer to bullet points below for a chronology of events:
- July 13, 2009: This was my initial loan modification request letter, sent with the Borrower’s Assistance Form and all required back-up documentation.
- August 4, 2009: This letter was sent to provide further additional information being requested by CHASE.
- August 28, 2009: Another letter was issued to CHASE after still more back-up documentation was requested.
- October 28, 2009: A letter is sent from CHASE informing me that I had been declined (first time) for a loan modification.
- November 30, 2009: After speaking with a representative from CHASE and explaining how my financial situation had further deteriorated due to yet additional pay cuts from my employer, I was instructed to then once again re-apply for the loan modification. I issued another letter to CHASE summarizing my current financial situation, along with a complete updated package, including the Borrower’s Assistance Form and all required back-up documentation.
- January 29, 2010: During my weekly call to CHASE to check on the status of my second loan modification request, the representative I was transferred to, named Damon, explained that there had been no activity on my file since the October 28, 2009 letter from CHASE advising that my loan modification request had been declined. He also indicated that a phone interview was necessary in order to determine if my most current financial situation would warrant re-applying for the loan modification. He conducted the telephone interview and told me that based on the information I had provided him, that I did meet the parameters for approval of a loan modification. He instructed me to re-send the entire loan modification package along with all the latest documentation necessary to substantiate my request, and that upon receipt of this information the loan review process would commence once again.
I then re-sent all information previously issued on November 30, 2009 in order to re-activate my file.
It is important to note that in all my calls to CHASE during the months of December 2009 and January 2010 (prior to my January 29th call) all CHASE representatives I spoke with told me that my second loan modification application (sent with my November 30th letter) was being processed. In fact, during these two months I was sending CHASE supplementary information being requested by these same individuals.
- February 9, 2010: A letter is sent from CHASE informing me that I had been approved to enter a trial period plan for three months (March, April and May).
- April 8, 2010: I called CHASE to inform them that my employer of over twenty six (26) years had now laid me off for good.
The representative I was transferred to, named Jill, explained that since my financial situation had once again changed, that I needed to re-send the entire loan modification package, with all necessary back-up documentation, so that it could be re-evaluated now that I was unemployed. I sent this documentation on April 15, 2010, which now included a copy of the ‘separation of employment’ letter from my former employer and proof of unemployment compensation; which I had applied and been approved for.
- August 18, 2010: A letter is sent from CHASE informing me that I had been declined (second time) for a loan modification.
As is quite clear, there is nothing recent about my request for a loan modification. The process began over a year ago and has been quite a daunting and frustrating experience; to say the least. During that period I was declined twice, even though I made good on trial period payments for the months of March, April and May of 2010. These payments were made on March 3rd, April 12th and May 12th respectively.
Needless to say that in addition to the correspondence referenced above, I have sent in countless copies of employer pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, proof of property insurance coverage, utility bills, proof of payment to the condominium association and community association, proof of unemployment compensation, etc., etc. Not only were these documents sent in on a regular basis as requested by CHASE representatives, but on numerous occasions identical documents were re-sent two and three times because they had been lost by the bank.
Throughout this entire process I have easily spoken to well over fifty different CHASE representatives, some on multiple occasions. There were periods when I would receive two or three calls a day from different CHASE personnel, each not knowing that others had called me earlier that same day. Realizing how disorganized this bank was, I began calling CHASE on a weekly basis to follow-up on the status of my loan modification to make certain there was activity on my file. It then became evident, as one can see from what I’ve described above, that many of the representatives I spoke with were clueless with regard to the loan modification process. Often times I was put on hold for over twenty minutes only to then be “accidentally disconnected” or transferred to a different individual and/or department where I would have to begin my inquiry all over again. Many times I was given conflicting information, and on a handful of occasions people at CHASE actually admitted that much of their staff were unqualified to process loan modification documents due to their lack of banking experience and little if any knowledge in modifying home loan applications.
Quite frankly, with as many times as I was asked to re-send correspondence to CHASE, I have little confidence that the information used to decline my loan modification requests was based on the correct and latest set of documents. Who really knows at this point, they may have put together documentation from different periods that didn’t correspond with one another; anything is possible with these people. Either way, It goes without saying that dealing with CHASE for this past year has been the most time-consuming, frustrating and pointless exercise of my entire life.
In August 2010, during my most recent conversations with a CHASE representative, named Peter, I was asked to send in additional copies of my unemployment compensation statements and proof of the duration for which these payments would last. I indicated that I would immediately provide the requested additional copies of the unemployment statements but that I had no written proof of the duration for unemployment benefits. I stated however that it was my understanding that these benefits were expected to last for eighteen (18) months following the initial payment period.
Being that I had applied for this program in April 2010 following my lay-off, I believed that I would receive these benefits through September or October 2011, but that this is something that CHASE should certainly have knowledge of. Regardless, I offered to try and obtain written proof of the duration of unemployment compensation by contacting the federal government and/or my state’s unemployment office, but the CHASE representative said that he would personally follow-up on this. At any rate, I explained to him that I definitely expected to either be called back and re-employed by my former employer once the company was awarded new projects or to find a new job before my unemployment benefits expired. I further explained to him that being that my former salary and benefits were well over $100,000 annually, that I couldn’t live on the $300 per week that I was receiving for unemployment benefits.
I called Peter back on a couple of occasions and left messages but never received a return call; finally on August 19th I was able to get a hold of him. That’s when he informed me that my loan modification request had been declined. He indicated the reasons for this were as follows:
a) Under the Making Home Affordable Program that I had applied for, CHASE could not verify the duration of my unemployment benefits and therefore could not justify re-structuring my loan; and…
b) Under a bank-initiated study to re-structure my loan (independent of the Making Home Affordable Program) it was determined that unemployment benefits could not be used as income (regardless of the fact that unemployment compensation is taxed).
Neither of these explanations made any sense to me, but nonetheless, the bottom line is that I was declined for the loan modification.
I then asked him if CHASE was willing to at the very least consider reducing the principal balance on my mortgage since property values had plummeted during the last couple of years and as such I was severely upside down on my loan. He indicated that this is something that had been discussed internally at CHASE but that at the present time there were no plans to move forward with this kind of arrangement. For the record, my current loan balance is approximately $190,000 and comparable condo units in my development are selling for $75,000 to $85,000.
In the end, I have exhausted all my options. When I originally purchased this property it was well within my means, and the fact that I made payments on time for the previous four and a half years since purchasing the property is a testament to that fact.
Additionally, the purchase price of the unit certainly was not inflated compared to most other comparable properties in the region and was actually at the lower end of the market. The fact that I had been employed for over twenty years with the same company at the time of my purchase certainly gave me a sense of security that there was little risk in making the investment; yet it all started going bad for me in 2009.
What really upsets me about all of this, probably more than anything else, is that I am a decent, responsible, hard-working individual who did everything by the book. I was diligent in following all of the procedures established by the bank and instructions given by bank employees were carried out without hesitation. Yet in the end I will lose my home, my credit, and the money I’ve invested in the property. I went from a hundred thousand dollar a year salary to unemployed over the course of just over a year, yet oddly enough this did not qualify me for a home loan modification!
Now CHASE will foreclose on my property, have me evicted, and simply put my home on the market for its present market value; which means that some individual out there will buy my property from the bank for approximately $80,000. Yet this same bank, CHASE, would not reduce my loan balance despite all my efforts for a home loan modification over the past year! CHASE will then write-off the “loss” and recover the difference from the federal government. In the meantime I’ll be scrambling to rent an efficiency somewhere. Sadly, our federal government subsidizes these crooked banks as they continue doing business as usual.
This entire process has been nothing short of a travesty. The Making Home Affordable moniker, as proposed by President Barack Obama is nothing but a sham; a smokescreen to give the illusion that our government is looking out for its citizens, when in fact it is only looking out for big business. This administration appears to be no different than that of George W. Bush; so far there has been little change, and the future certainly doesn’t look any brighter. I suppose I’ll be just another statistic; just one more of the thousands who have already lost or will lose their homes during this economy.
In closing, I’d just like to mention that everyone associated with this charade, especially the executives at CHASE, ought to be ashamed of themselves.