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The Chase Home Lending Shell Game

April 25, 2010, 3:55 pm: Natalia Carrillo called from Chase (800) 848-9380 ext. 382-3158, wanting to discuss my loan. I figured she was looking for money but as the call unfolded I realized she was my new contact. I asked what happened to Olga Danilova, was she off the case? Natalia said a lot had changed at Chase and there were “new processes”; she was tasked with getting the files moving. She went on to say that previously Chase had been doing three-month trial modifications and then determining if the loan qualified for a permanent modification (implying that Underwriting was reviewing the loan during or after the trial modification).

Natalia said Chase was “not going to waste people’s time” putting them in a trial modification and then determining they didn’t really qualify. (Interesting – Chase had wasted fourteen months of my time when even a three-month trial modification would have made a world of difference to me). Per Natalia, they were now doing the Underwriting first; she required a complete package so there would be no questions for Underwriting and after a decision from Underwriting they were only doing trial modifications on “qualified” loans. I should have asked right then what a “qualified” loan was…

I told Natalia it seemed like we were in a parallel universe…what happened to all the stuff I’d submitted since February 24, 2009 and what about my conversations, follow-up, denials, re-openings and re-submissions with Jacqueline Ham, Megan Valdivia and Olga Danilova at the Chase Home Lending Executive Office? Natalia said since I was now over two months past due, the file had moved on to her area and she was responsible.

Natalia went on to review much of the paperwork I’d submitted and told me that some additional and updated paperwork would need to be submitted. She was extremely thorough and opened many files (the files seemed to be in a pdf format). She asked questions about some things she found unclear and she walked me through a required list of documents which she said could all be found on the Chase web site at https://www.chase.com/ccpmweb/chf/document/Borrowers_Assistance_Form_Chase_2009.pdf  She told me I needed to download, print, complete and return several forms, and provide more copies of checking statements and pay stubs. She said my 4506-T had expired (it was only good for 90 days) and it was essential I submit a new form, the RMA Hardship Affidavit. Essentially Natalia Carrillo was requesting yet another loan modification application. She noted there was a “Hardship Letter” in my file dated April 5, 2010, but I still needed to submit the RMA Hardship Affidavit.

Natalia’s reference to an April 5, 2010 “Hardship Letter” made no sense. I told her I’d submitted a handwritten hardship form “inside the box” on the modification application sent 12/11/09, as well as the original submitted February 24, 2009 – what letter could she be talking about? Natalia opened the file and said, “Oh, it’s a letter to Jamie Dimon. She then scrolled down further and saw additional faxes and letters I’d sent, none of which had anything to do with hardship.

I could now understand why I’d not heard back from Jamie Dimon – all of my letters to Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO JP Morgan Chase, were electronically filed and forgotten, along with faxes offering explanations, clarifying details, outlining the situation and offering solutions. I should have asked if my letter to David Lowman Chase Home Lending CEO was in there but I didn’t.

Natalia next looked at a utility bill and asked about my residency; I said perhaps she’d want to scroll down further in the “Hardship” file to my Cape May County, NJ Voting Record. Natalia demurred; saying, “I see your 2008 tax return has the address, that’s sufficient”, then she requested updated utility bills at the service address anyway! Natalia asked if I could submit everything within a week and I said it would be in her hands by 4/28/10 at the latest. She said she’d mark the files for a 4/29/10 follow-up and we ended the call.

The chase continues for a Wamu/Chase loan modification

April 13, 2010, 8:40 am: I sent Olga Danilova an e-mail and copied Doris at CCCSDV, indicating all paperwork was received by Chase, my residency was no longer an issue, an appraisal had been submitted and I needed answers.

April 13, 2010, 9:15 am: Olga called in response to my e-mail. I asked if she was getting the numerous phone messages I’d left; she said she was behind and e-mail was better. Olga agreed to send an escalated e-mail to the underwriting department and see what was happening. She didn’t see any request for additional information. She alluded to a “drive-by” appraisal; I corrected her and said an interior appraisal had been conducted on 4/1/10. She seemed surprised and then said yes, she did see in the file that an interior appraisal had been requested but as of 4/10/10, it had not been received. I said I was very concerned about timing as these delays resulted in repeated requests for updated financial information and it was costly for me to copy and fax stuff again and again. Olga said she would call or e-mail me back with an update.

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 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.

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?

Chasing Answers about My Chase Loan Modification

March 22, 2010, 8:30 am: I called Megan to confirm receipt of all information and to schedule the interior appraisal. She was not in so I left a voice mail. 

March 23, 2010, 7:45 am: I called Megan again; she was not in so I left a voice mail.

March 23, 2010, 12:40 pm: Megan called back and confirmed receipt of checking account statements and confirmed that no additional paperwork was required. I asked about scheduling the interior appraisal and she said it depended on the review of the bank statements. I protested as the bank statements were no different from those submitted in Dec 09. She said they still had to be “reviewed”. I asked her to confirm that indeed my loan modification file HAD been reopened and she said it had. 

I noted that when Jacqueline Ham left for vacation, she never came back – might that happen with Megan? Megan said she wouldn’t be surprised; “they are reassigning a lot of cases” and she did not know what state(s) she might end up with. She reiterated the bank statement review takes precedent over the scheduling of the interior appraisal. I asked who I should speak to while Megan was out of the office; Megan instead put a note in the file to contact me directly for scheduling or if any additional information was required; she said she’d be back on 4/5/10. 

I told Megan while I appreciated her help, she was a conduit, not a decision-maker; I went on to say I would drive anywhere to meet face-to-face with an empowered decision-maker. Megan said I would not be allowed to meet with “those people” and I was at the highest possible level with her.

Chase Loan Modification Redux

March 20, 2010: I realized that after three full months the Chase loan modification request I’d submitted December 11, 2009 was effectively back at the starting gate. Was I like Sisyphus, condemned for all eternity to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, over and over again? I’d labored under this boulder for over a year and there was no end in sight.

Hello Chase, I really do live here!

March 4, 2010, 10:45 am:  I called Megan who told me she had “no record of a denial” although there “may be a question as to my residency”. Megan indicated I should only call her; if I called the Customer Service line I would get conflicting information. That may be, but the “conflicting information” I gleaned was often accurate. I offered to provide additional documentation to verify my residence but she said to wait. Chase likes to wait, except when it comes to being paid. 

March 11, 2010, 8:45 am: I called to follow-up; Megan was not in so I left a voice mail regarding the BPO and my residency status. I was starting to panic; I had to be in Florida for business and nothing was happening at Chase. Would they padlock my home while I was away like Bank of America did to the lady with the parrot? 

March 15, 2010, 8:30 am: I called again to follow-up; Megan was not in so I left another voice mail reiterating the need for an answer on the BPO and my residency status. 

March 16, 2010, 8:30 am: I called Megan and she advised that my residency was an issue – Chase was “unable to verify owner occupancy”. I pointed out that I’d submitted three years of Federal Income Tax returns with this address and she agreed. Nonetheless, Chase wanted the following information:

1. Copies of last 4 months bank statements (previously submitted)
2. Copies of last 2 months pay stubs (previously submitted)
3. Copies of most recent utility bills with service address (previously submitted)
4. A P&L for 1099 “business” 

I told Megan this had all been submitted with my modification request in December 2009. I told her I didn’t own or operate a business; I am a W-2 employee who supplements my income as a 1099 employee for another company, as reflected on the tax returns.

Megan steadfastly reiterated the need for all of the information and a P&L regardless of what I said; she also noted she’d be out of the office 3/24/10 to 4/5/10 and I should get this information to her as soon as possible and call to confirm receipt. 

I faxed items 2, 3 & 4; putting my 1099 earnings in a P&L format to satisfy her request. I also took it upon myself to obtain and fax my Cape May County, NJ Voter’s Record indicating my residency since 2005. As I was in Florida on business, I couldn’t access my checking statements but told Megan I would provide them by Saturday 3/20/10 when I returned home.   

A word about voting. I vote, and not just in the “big” elections but all the elections, and care as much, maybe more, about the school board and the sheriff as I do about who will be our next President. Because I vote I had no problem writing to my Congressman and my Senators to both ask for help and express outrage over opaque banking procedures and predatory lending practices. 

March 17, 2010, 1:00 pm: I called Megan to confirm receipt of the information. Megan reviewed the submissions and agreed the information received  (3 pages voter’s records; 5 pages P&L + two months paychecks; 3 pages owner occupied cover memo & utility bills) was in order and legible. I again confirmed that checking statements would be sent 3/20. 

March 20, 2010, 10:30 am:  I arrived home to find a denial letter dated 3/5/10 and postmarked 3/8/10 indicating I was denied for a loan modification as Chase was “unable to verify residence“. I immediately called Chase; Megan confirmed I had been denied but the case was reopened as my voting record satisfied “them”. Chase also wanted a contact telephone number to schedule an interior appraisal. I gave the same number I’ve provided since 2/24/09 and asked again about the BPO. Megan indicated it was a 32-page document; she tried to extract a price/value from it while I waited but after putting me on hold and speaking with a co-worker, decided she was unable to do so. Megan said the interior appraisal was important and she would be going away so the sooner I sent the checking account statements, the better. That evening I faxed:

1. Copies of last 4 months bank statements

2. A formal notice indicating my contact phone number for scheduling an interior appraisal

March 20, 2010: The mailbox held a second letter from Chase, dated March 10, 2010, from the JP Morgan Chase Home Lending Executive Office, 2201 Enterprise Drive, Florence, SC 29501.

The subject line: Issue Still Being Reviewed

The letter:

Dear Martha Wright:

I am writing in response to your correspondence we received on December 24, 2009, about a loan modification.

At this time, the matter you brought to our attention is still being reviewed. Please be assured that we will make every effort to provide you with the timeliest response possible.

Chase’s goal is to provide the highest level of quality service to each of our customers. We appreciate your business and value our relationship with you.

If you have any questions in the interim, please contact Megan Valdivia (888) 310-7995, extension 7850, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

Sincerely,

Home Lending Executive Office

Was this in reply to my December 16, 2009 letter to Jamie Dimon, Chairman & CEO JP Morgan Chase, my January 15, 2010 letter to Jamie Dimon, or perhaps my letter to Jamie Dimon dated February 18, 2010? I had no idea, and the letter said absolutely nothing.

Chase, what’s the problem with equity?

March 3, 2010, 8:45 pm:  Keisha Hackney phoned looking for payment. She told me I was denied because I had “the equity” and that I should list my home for sale; a modification was not available for me. I should liquidate my assets and pay up; consider a short sale. I will receive a denial letter and a letter with intent to foreclose. I was denied because I have “the equity” and I “should have refinanced or pulled all the equity out.”

Ms. Hackney had the unique ability to make having equity sound like I had the clap.

I asked if Chase merely serviced the loan and she said no, “this is an asset loan in the portfolio” (interesting, because I strongly suspected this particularly predatory Washington Mutual loan had been sliced, diced, repackaged as a mortgage-backed security and sold down the river.) I said I was going to make a payment March 5 but had been told it would not be applied if it was a partial payment; she confirmed this. I said I could commit to a full payment with late fees by April 5, 2010. She told me she would note in the file I “was not able to make a commitment at this time”. I said I was making a commitment but she would not hear of it. I ended the call.