The Chase Home Lending Executive Office Shuffle

April 9, 2010, 7:35 am: I called Megan again and she was in. Megan said my loan had been reassigned – she was no longer on the case. My new contact was Olga Danilova. Megan gave me Olga’s extension but declined to provide her e-mail. 

Okay, first there was Jacqueline Ham, then there was Megan Valdivia and now it will be Olga Danilova. It’s been almost five months since my December 11, 2009 loan modification request submission, and over thirteen months since I first sought a modification of this predatory Washington Mutual loan back on February 24, 2009. Chase Home Lending was moving with glacial speed.

April 9, 2010, 7:40 am: I called Olga Danilova; she was not in so I left a detailed voice mail. 

April 10, 2010, 2:00 pm: I called Olga Danilova; she was not in so I left a detailed voice mail. 

April 12, 2010, 8:45 am: I called Olga Danilova; she was not in so I left a detailed voice mail. 

April 12, 2010, 11:15 am: I called Olga Danilova; she was not in so I left a detailed voice mail. 

April 12, 2010, 4:45 pm: I called Olga Danilova; she was not in so I left a detailed voice mail. 

April 13, 2010, 8:13 am: I called Olga Danilova; she was not in so I left a detailed voice mail.

Chase Home Lending Executive Office – where’s Megan?

April 6, 2010, 7:45 am: I called Megan; she was supposed to be back in the office. She was not in so I left a voice mail. 

April 7, 2010, 8:00 am: I called Megan; she was not in so I left a voice mail. 

April 8, 2010, 8:10 am: I called Megan; she was not in so I left a voice mail.

What happened to Megan Valdivia? She told me I should only call her, but she wasn’t calling me back…

I needed answers from Chase.

Chase, we need to talk!

April 5, 2010, 1:10 pm: I received via regular and Certified Mail identical letters from Chase Home Finance, both dated 3/31/10. The contents were a dunning notice along with a marketing solicitation. The letter(s) said:

Your house is your home. We want to keep it that way. We need to talk — call 1-800-848-9380 today.

The letter went on to say I “may be eligible for a loan modification programand “we may be able to change the term of your loan, the interest rate and maybe even the principal due date”. If I called right away, a “Loan Specialist will work with me to determine the option that best fits my need.” I called immediately and was routed to an auto announcement reiterating receipt of my recent payment; the delinquent debt amount and that I was two payments past due. I worked through the menu to get to a live person and spoke with Angeer.

I read her the letter – I was eager to speak with a “Loan Specialist”. When I told Angeer I’d already applied for a loan modification she asked “when?” – I said originally 2/24/09 and then again on 12/11/09. Angeer put me on hold then returned to say that after reviewing the notes, my file is in review and was sent to the underwriter on 3/1/10 (over 30 days ago). She told me to “disregard the letter” and asked when I could pay in the next two weeks. I told her that just as I’d advised Laura on 4/1/10, I could next make a full payment on 6/5/10. Angeer agreed this was already noted in the file. With that, we ended the call.

Hey Chase, how does one actually speak with a “loan specialist”? I’ve been trying to do so for over thirteen months!

Chase Home Lending appraises my home – how much will it be?

March 29, 2010: Jim Carr, an independent appraiser, contacted me to schedule the appraisal “tomorrow”. There was no discussion of price or cost to me. We settled on April 1, 2010 as I would be out of town on business 3/30-3/31/10.

April 1, 2010, 8:35 am: Laura called from Chase, looking for money. I told Laura I’d mailed a full payment plus late fees on 3/31/10 and Chase would have it by 4/5/10 as I’d promised. I went on to say the next time I could make a payment in full would be 6/5/10.

April 1, 2010: The interior appraisal was conducted. Mr. Carr told me he was a sub-contractor and had no direct dealings with Chase. He was merely sent out to conduct the appraisal which would then be turned over to his bosses who would in turn provide it to Chase. He felt Chase would have the appraisal in hand no later than Monday, April 5, 2010.

Still waiting for answers from Chase

March 26, 2010, 4:00 pm: I called the Chase Executive Lending Office and asked to speak with someone in Megan’s absence. Makisha handled the 30-minute phone call, verifying Megan was out until 4/5/10 as she tried to get an answer on scheduling the interior appraisal. She said “they” had forwarded the request to the Appraisal Dept. I asked if a Chase employee would conduct the appraisal; she said no, an independent appraiser would contact me and I would negotiate price. I was stunned and asked, if I was going to pay for it, why couldn’t I just pick my own appraiser and get things moving? Makisha said they had to be “legitimate” and Chase had a list of approved companies. I asked for the list so I could start negotiating price and expedite getting an appraiser out – she said it “wasn’t done that way”. Makisha expressed surprise that Megan hadn’t covered any of this and also that I hadn’t been re-assigned to someone during Megan’s absence. She went on to say I would have to wait for the appraisal to be scheduled; it would take 7-10 days. I asked when the count of 7-10 days started and Makisha said she had already given me “way more information than she was supposed to”. I backed off as she had been helpful and thanked her for her efforts. Makisha said she would note our conversation in the file.

Hey Chase, should we burn the house down?

My home is priceless to me, but as of 1/31/10 the assessed value of my modest two-bedroom, one bath house is $159,800. I designed and built the all-wood, metal roof home and it is unique. Unique, however, does not mean saleable, or even rentable, as my realtor friend had made abundantly clear.   

In an all-wood home the possibility of loss by fire is a concern, especially after a raging fire destroyed 39 Avalon, NJ condos in December 2003. Coupled with an article I read about the importance of insuring properly for “replacement value”, I’d kept a close eye on my property insurance.  

By January 2006 I worried I might be under-insured and took a closer look at my policy. The replacement value seemed low and I feared that if my home burned to the ground I wouldn’t be able to replace it. I requested an increase to a dollar amount I thought was more realistic, only to get push-back from the insurer.  I pressed the point so Selective Insurance Company sent out an appraiser who set the replacement value at $285,000. This was still low in my mind, but in mid-February 2006 we compromised at a value of $425,000. 

I escrow my insurance and property taxes. Once comfortable with the replacement value on my home, I moved on, until I pulled the policy for review in December 2009.  I was stunned to find my home insured for $905,000, more than double the figure I’d reached with Selective. Of course the payee was Chase, and as I followed the paper trail I saw the folks at Washington Mutual had upped the value of my home on me. So now Chase thinks I’m living in a $905,000 house. Hey Chase, I love my home but in Avalon parlance, it’s a “tear-down”. Is that why you won’t work with me on a loan modification? Do you think I’m living large in some big house? I’m not. I’m living very small in my tiny home on the bay.

Chasing home values before Chase appraises

While waiting for Chase to schedule the appraisal I met with a realtor friend to figure out how much my home might be worth. A true professional, she had prepared a comprehensive market analysis along with the closest things she could find in the way of comparable sales. It was slim pickings and she didn’t mince words. 

“Your home is off the beaten track. It’s not on a desirable street. It takes a special kind of person to live on that street and you know that. I have clients who won’t even look at homes on your street. It’s too far from the beach and the center of town.” Yes that was true, and probably why I liked it so much. The somewhat secluded location overlooks the Cedar Island Bird Sanctuary and I hadn’t been to the beach in years. 

“The adjacent lot on your east side has been on the market since the day before forever; they’ve reduced the price several times and it’s still not selling. No one is financing land; it needs to be a cash deal and no one’s interested in paying cash for the lot.” I knew that was true – the speculator who owned it was underwater, but the local lender who held the loan was working with them. 

“The adjacent house on your west side has been on the market for three years; it has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a proven rental record. They’ve just listed it with a different realtor and reduced the price again but it’s still not selling. At least it’s rentable. Your home, with 2 bedrooms, one bath and no air conditioning, isn’t even really rentable.” I hadn’t designed my home as rental. It was tiny and it was my home. I traveled a lot in July for trade shows so I’d rented it to some like-minded folks the last few years to help cover expenses, but it wasn’t a rental property. 

“Martha, if you were to ask me to sell your house I’m not sure who I’d market it to. With all due respect, it’s a tear-down and the spec builders who might buy it can’t get financing. They’re stuck with inventory and losing their shirts. With spec builders off the table that leaves the general public. You were an exception – almost no one wants to design and build a new home on their own, nor do they have the money to. You really need to work it out with your lender.” Yes, I really did need to work it out with Chase, and I’d been trying for over a year. Why wouldn’t they work with me?