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Chase Home Lending – fourteen months in a bad relationship

April 24, 2010, 10:59 am: Phoned Olga Danilova at JP Morgan Chase Home Lending Executive Office; her voice mail announced I had 24 seconds to leave a message – I tried my best but didn’t think it went through. I called back immediately to leave another voice mail; her mailbox was full and no longer accepting messages.

Another anniversary – fourteen months to the day since I’d first sought a loan modification from Washington Mutual, now Chase. A full two years since my salary was reduced by 50%. I’d marked it by again approaching my employers for some type of salary increase, offering to pick up additional responsibilities or provide more services but all proposals were declined. My anniversary presents: drained bank accounts, damaged credit scores and no loan modification answers from Chase.

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Chase, I need answers and a loan modification!

April 19, 2010, 8:40 am: Received an e-mail from Olga Danilova at Chase Home Lending Executive Office:
Hello Ms. Wright, I have not received a response on your account from our loss mitigation area. But from what I can tell your account is still being reviewed. Thank you.

I freaked out; I could see what was going to happen: I’d get one e-mail a week from Olga with no news and in the meantime, Chase would continue the predatory loan practices devised by Washington Mutual and foreclose. I had to get answers. I’d written my congressman, my state senators, even Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan Chase, and a case had been opened with the Comptroller of the Currency. What else could I do?

I searched the internet for answers and stumbled upon the testimony of Mr. David Lowman, Chase Home Lending CEO, before the House Committee on Financial Services April 13, 2010; he said that people seeking answers from Chase should come to him. I don’t have a television and I’d not heard this offer on the radio or read it in the newspaper – I can’t believe it’s true, but it is. I saw the testimony myself.

House Committee on Financial Services Chases Answers

April 13, 2010: David B. Lowman, CEO Chase Home Lending, speaks before the House Committee on Financial Services and tells people who can’t get answers to come to him. Unaware of this, I decide to share my over thirteen-month saga of chasing a loan modification and launch a blog. I truly do not know what else I can do to get a decision-maker to speak with me about modifying this predatory loan devised by Washington Mutual and perpetuated by Chase. The mortgage servicers seem to have no interest in actually helping people and I don’t know why.

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.

JP Morgan Chase email protocol but no answers…

April 13, 2010, 8:17 am: I called the Chase Home Lending Executive Office to confirm Olga Danilova really was my contact person; she was and I was dialing the correct number (888) 310-7995 ext. 2260. I got her e-mail address (Olga.x.Danilova@chase.com) and realized the e-mail protocol for JP Morgan Chase was first name, period, initial, period, last name, and if the employee did not have a middle initial the letter “x” was used. This was interesting information to be filed for future use but I needed answers now. Why was Chase perpetuating the predatory lending practices devised by Washington Mutual? Why wouldn’t Chase want to make this right and move on?

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.

Chase Home Lending – thirteen months in a bad relationship

March 24, 2010: Today marks thirteen months since the day Chase/WaMu first received my request for a loan modification. Back in February 2009 I wanted to get in front of my financial situation. Having suffered a 50% salary reduction in May 2008, I was still employed and supplementing my income with a freelance job; by using savings I could make ends meet, but unless something changed, my savings would be depleted by February 2010. 

The responsible thing to do was to speak with my lender and renegotiate the terms of the loan. No reduction in principal, just a reduction in interest rate so I could ride this out until my salary increased. Since I had no other debt of any kind, was not underwater and the Chase/WaMu loan was my primary and only mortgage (no home equity loan or second mortgage), this seemed like a reasonable request. 

Reason, however, seems to have flown out the window at JP Morgan Chase. Although JP Morgan Chase employs over 200,000 people, not one of them including Chase Bank’s Mortgage Unit CEO, David B. Lowman can provide a straight answer or a loan modification. After thirteen months I’ve drained my savings, devastated my once decent credit rating and spent countless hours chasing answers, yet I can’t get anyone at Chase to meet face-to-face to resolve a loan work-out. It’s a predatory loan and a bad relationship. The resolution to a bad relationship is to walk away and put it behind you, but I can’t. This is my home, and I just can’t walk away.