Chase Offers Pay to Play Modification

I have been off the air for a long time as maintaining the blog whilst holding down three jobs and negotiating with Chase for a loan modification became and remains all-consuming.

But I would feel remiss if I did not post the modification offer Chase has “approved”. At first blush it seems almost too good to be true – an affordable payment coupled with the prospect of an unanticipated reduction in principal.

Upon closer inspection, the actual terms of the modification are missing – it’s a carrot dangled before a starved and desperate individual in the hopes they will bite.

I am not biting for anything that is not put in writing. I would urge anyone who may have received a similar offer to tread carefully. The offer and my response is posted below; I belive it speaks for itself.

ChasePaytoPlayModificationOffer

WaMu Chase Contact Information

Washington Mutual home loan customers are “serviced” by Chase. In late September 2008, the FDIC sold Washington Mutual’s assets, secured debt obligations and deposits to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Home loans which originated with Washington Mutual and are in default end up with Chase Home Finance in California; it is possible (unverified) that all Washington Mutual originated loans are handled in California by Chase Home Finance. Following is a list of key Washington Mutual Chase contacts with phone numbers and/or web addresses when available:

Chase Home Finance (generic): (800) 848-9380 [This number handles home loans (in default) originated by Washington Mutual]

Chase Home Finance (Direct fax): (904) 462-1926

Chase Loss Mitigation: (866) 316-9218

Chase Loss Mitigation Alternate Numbers: (866) 349-3540; (800) 446-8939

Chase Customer Service (generic): (866) 550-5705

Chase general fax (generic): (866) 282-5682

You cannot do it alone. Get a HUD-approved counselor to negotiate on your behalf. They are FREE. Go to Springboard (800) 431-8456 for Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management or visit: www.credit.org

Click on http://www.credit.org/housing/loan-modification-program and get started. Chase says they want to help but they are giving lip service only to the American people. Your tax dollars have paid for HUD-approved counseling, use it!

Why use a counselor? Because when you fill out the forms, Chase is running your numbers up against a “black box” formula only they know. Your counselor can at least tell you when your numbers are way out of line and exceed national averages. You need to use every tool in your arsenal to fight the Chase machine and get a loan modification.

You will need to submit a third-party authorization form to allow a counselor to speak on your behalf with Chase. Request the form from both Chase and see if your own HUD-approved counselor has a form. Submit both immediately so Chase can’t stall.

HAMP & $729,750…this is the dollar cap on loan balances which can be modified by HAMP, but the number is misleading. A dollar cap is assigned to each county in the nation. For example, in Cape May County, NJ, the HAMP cap is $487,500. Because my loan balance is greater than $487,500, (and also happens to be greater than $729, 750) I do not qualify for a HAMP modification. I qualify only for a CHAMP (Chase in-house program) modification. Save time and aggravation and learn your county HAMP cap to determine if you even qualify for a HAMP modification!

Chase Homeowner’s Information Packet: https://www.chase.com/ccpmweb/chf/document/Borrowers_Assistance_Form_Chase_Fill_2009.pdf  

Chase Home Ownership Centers (allegedly they will help you submit & follow-up on modification paperwork): https://www.chase.com/chf/mortgage/hrm_centers

Can the Wall Street Journal get Chase loan modification answers?

May 10, 2010: A reporter from the Wall Street Journal responded to a copy of my letter to Mr. David Lowman, CEO Chase Home Lending. He wanted to know if I’d heard back from Mr. Lowman and I told him I had not. It had been thirteen business days since confirmed USPS Certified Mail delivery (April 21, 2010) of my letter to Mr. David Lowman regarding his testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services and I’d planned to place a follow-up call later in the day.

With that we spoke about a story the Wall Street Journal was developing about people who were worse off after having applied for a loan modification. I knew that simply applying for a modification resulted in a ding on your credit record and as we spoke it became clear I was much worse off having waited for almost 15 months with no definitive and actionable response from Chase on a loan modification.

I had drained my savings, damaged my credit rating and spent countless hours chasing answers about how I might work something out with Chase to revise the terms of the mortgage. I knew I did not qualify for a HAMP modification but I also knew Chase had an in-house modification program; everything in life is negotiable if you can meet face to face with a decision-maker. I wondered if the Wall Street Journal might be able to get answers when I could not, and decided I had little to lose by participating in the article.

Chasing the Underwriters at Chase Home Lending

I’m curious about “Underwriting”; it seemed to be a Bermuda Triangle at Chase, yet another example of their opaque banking procedures, but it could also be the one place to get a straight answer from Chase. Underwriting might be the black box where decisions were actually made. Here is the history of my loan modification with Chase:

  1. December 30, 2009: I was told my loan was “in Underwriting” as of 12/15/09
  2. January 20, 2010: I was again told my loan was “in Underwriting” as of 12/15/09
  3. February 23, 2010: I was told my loan was “with the Underwriter”
  4. April 5, 2010: I was told my loan was “sent to the Underwriter” on 3/1/10”
  5. April 12, 2010: I was told my loan was “with the Underwriter”

As of April 28, 2010, Natalia Carrillo Chase Home Finance (800) 848-9380 informed me my loan was not going to Underwriting until and unless a new Profit &Loss statement was submitted and a financial interview conducted.

Was my loan EVER in Underwriting (perhaps in a parallel universe)? Was Chase just like Washington Mutual – had Chase been lying to me since December 15, 2009?

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!

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?