Monday, September 27, 2010

Arthur Delaney on Bank of America and Mortgage Modification Program: Stubbornly Refusing to Assist

I last blogged around the end of June about Steve's and my attempt to modify the underwater mortgage on our house in Florida.  As that posting and previous ones on the same topic note, our experience with Bank of America as we tried to renegotiate the mortgage under the new federal Home Affordable Modification Program was abysmal.  

We've gone through the process of trying to obtain a modified mortgage twice.  In both cases, we amassed piles of paperwork, bits of which the bank then claimed to have lost.  Fortunately, we kept scrupulous records of when we mailed what to the bank, and we retained copies of everything, so we could counter each claim of lost or missing paperwork and could immediately replicate the "lost" documents.

We also endured countless phone calls from one hireling after another to whom the bank apparently farms out details of the verification process, each making conflicting statements about what the program required, what was lacking in our application packet, and so forth.  As my June posting about the grueling application process noted, several of these low-level folks in the Bank of America food chain made remarks or asked leading questions about our living situation, and it seemed to me that the fact that we were a same-sex couple applying together for this mortgage modification mattered considerably to those asking these questions.  

Both times, the piles of paperwork and the countless phone calls from intrusive, ill-educated  document verification employees ended up in the same place: we were denied a modified mortgage.  And so we took our savings, such as they are, out of Bank of America and moved them to a local bank in protest.

Because of these experiences with the ineffectual federal mortgage modification program and Bank of America, I'm interested to read Arthur Delaney's report at Huffington Post today that "Bank of America stands out among the biggest mortgage servicers for an exceptionally poor performance under the Obama administration's Home Affordable Modification Program, according to data recently released by the government."  Delaney notes that while the eight largest lending institutions in the HAMP program have offered modified arrangements to 44.5 percent of homeowners denied relief under HAMP, Bank of America has done so to only 24 percent of homeowners denied HAMP relief.

As I prepare to cast my vote this fall, can somebody please remind me again why we have given millions of dollars to the banks to offer mortgage relief to citizens with underwater mortgages, and why we're permitting them to take that money and then not fulfill their duties to modify underwater mortgages?  Even for white males who have never been part of the angry crowd, the change-we-can-believe-in mantra seems to be wearing perilously thin of late.

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