A Coordinated effort by ASC to Scrap my Application

This post covers May 1st 2010 to November 29th 2010 and documents the loan modification run around, misrepresentations, and sabotage efforts by ASC representatives.  These are entries from my database with links to documents that were scanned and attached.  My comments about the events described in the entries, are highlighted in blue.  On the attachments, I marked up in red where necessary to make it easier to see the relevant information.  (Warning: There’s some pretty shady stuff in here).  Notice the frequency of entries, the amount of documentation sent, phone calls made/received, the level of complexity of the bank’s/investor’s Requests for Information (RFI’s), and the number of bank representatives that I had to keep up with.  It might make your head spin just reading the organized version here.  Actually going through it is much worse.

As you read, Imagine that you are a middle class, homeowner who has never gone through anything like this and believe the bank’s statement that they are trying to help.

May 10, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Debt Collection Department (outbound call completed)

  • Returning call – Moniqe ext. 59073 – Did not Answer – Left message.

May 12, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Debt Collection Department (call completed)

  • Documents needed for Loan Modification – 4506 Form with 2007 & 2008 years filled in. 2) Extension form for 2009.  3) MHA questionaire – Fill out every box including N/A where applicable. 4) February Profit/Loss – make sure 1st through end of month is report period. 5) Updated Budget

June 1, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Debt Collection Department (call completed)

  • left message informing her that a foreclosure process had been started and a sale date was set.  Requested that they send a letter to the law firm to stop the process.

June 2, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Main Database Record (fax sent)

June 4, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Main Database Record (call completed)

  • Scheduled date for approval of loan mod is 6/10/2010.  Could take up to 3 weeks.  There will be a trial offering once the approval goes through.  after 3 payments a final offering will be given.  first year interest is 2% then moves up to 5% by the 5th year and stays fixed for the life of the loan.  If I don’t get an offering by the end of June, I need to call to get them to fill out a foreclosure suspension form that will go to their foreclosure department where they can communicate in real time (messaging) with the law firm to stop foreclosure.

June 17, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC loss mitigation department (call completed)

  • spoke with customer service rep.  Foreclosure Sale Date has been moved to Sept. 7th.

June 22, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main Database Record (documents received)

  • RFI Documentation June 18 – Received Today via fedex.  (At the bottom of page 2, ASC states that “the government guidelines only allow you one opportunity for mortgage payment relief under the Home Affordable Modification Program.”)  I’m willing to bet that the federal guidelines stated no such thing, particularly since, ASC later stated that I could reapply if my income situation changed. (Misrepresentation of fact) 

June 22, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Federal MHA Department (outbound call completed)

  • Left message asking how to respond to Request for information (link) (received June 22nd).  Item 2 requests signed tax returns for all borrowers who are salaried employees.  I notified her that I am the only borrower on the note and I am not a salaried employee.  Asked if she still needed additional copies of my tax return. (The document, Item 2, is confusing because I wasn’t a salaried employee).

June 24, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main DB Record (Documents mailed out)

  • Response to June 18 RFI (link) (received June 22) (ASC requested a revised 4506T because the other one was incomplete) and 2008 & 2009 Form 1040 – Fedexed today

July 15, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main DB Record (inbound call completed)

  • Paul – calling to verify information.  Said that my H.A.M (HAMP) reviewer is Derick Alexander.  there is one more process to go bofore they make the decision on whether I can qualify for the program.

August 11, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Loss Mitigation (outbound call completed)

  • “Derick Alexander is my H.A.M (HAMP) processor. Ext. 85596.  Called and left message asking about update on status.”

August 19, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Federal MHA Department (outbound call completed)

  • Tried to leave a message for Maria Negron to call me back but her voicemail was full and the phone system would not let me leave a message. (This makes the process confusing when I cannot get my questions answered)

August 19, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Federal MHA Department (outbound call completed)

  • called customer service, option 3 (Lisa) she “pulled up 106” (don’t know what that means).  Very talkative..sounded like she was stalling.  As of 28th it’s pending final decision before sending it to the investor.  As of the 18th it was suspended waiting for procedural direction for no longer than 7 days.  If I don’t hear anything by August 28th, I should call ASC to request a postponement of the foreclosure sale date. (The ASC rep recommended a second postponement of the foreclosure sale date.)

August 28, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Federal MHA Department (outbound call completed)

  • Requested a foreclosure postponement.  said that it was up to the investor.  Also said that I need to send in updated hardship letter, paystubs and financial worksheet.  This is the only notice I’ve gotten about updating the documents.  I have not received a notice by mail or a phone call requesting documents.  I was told previously by phone, that they had all the documents they needed. (ASC failed to send a notice that documents needed to be updated.  Note that according to the phone rep, ASC allows their investors to determine whether or not a homeowner gets a loan modification! Who is the bank’s customer here?  I thought I was the customer since I pay a significant amount of interest to the bank. (If I had known that an investor had that decision making power, I would never have agreed to the terms of the loan.  Here is a great example of a lack of adequate and accurate information in the market which prevents consumers from making rational decisions).  Also I would argue that the situation is a conflict of interest and banks should not be allowed to pit the investor against the homeowner (consumer).  Democratic society, given the knowledge of such a conflict and given a choice, would not allow this situation to occur.  Also note that in Texas, recent lawsuits have determined that homeowners are not considered consumers under DTPA legislation (which is the only legislation that allows consumers to sue vendors of products and services).  Sounds like a convenient way for a business friendly government to resolve this massive conflict of interest (on paper only), allowing sellers of loan servicing services to avoid any accountability in the market (making Texas attractive to large corporations) and hand out economic growth benefits to big business even if it comes at the high price of chopping off the economic legs of the individual citizen.  What about the economic growth of the family or independent contractor?  I guess, in Texas, we don’t matter to the legislature or the governor’s office).

August 30, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (documents faxed out)

  • Faxed updated documents today (documents that were requested on August 28)

September 1, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Loss Mitigation (outbound call completed)

  • “Lisa Shemp 480-375-4761 – Lisa was a proccessor on my account with the Investor Team.  Lisa is no longer a processor and referred me to  Jamie Versteeg.” (Here is an example of the bank constantly changing representatives and referring me to other departments.  They also had different titles for representatives that changed throughout the two year process.  Talk about confusing!!!)

September 1, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – ASC Loss Mitigation (outbound call completed)

  • Jamie Versteeg – Told me that the Request was made by Wells Fargo to the Attorney’s office on the 31st.  Atty made a note on the account that the loan was not eligible for sale.  She said there were “title issues.” (What are these title issues?  If there were title issues, then was it legal for the bank to continue with the foreclosure proceedings)

September 9, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (outbound call completed)

  • called in response to their voicemail RFI – The representative did not show that there was any need for additional information.  She did note that I was not qualified for the HAM modification but I was under review for other modification programs.  The first representative transferred me to the line that helps people who have been denied the HAM program.   He said that the HAM program is backed by the federal government and the denial came from them…not the investor.  He said that I would get a letter in the mail from the Treasury department about it.  After I get that letter, I can call back and discuss it with them.  He also said that I was under review for in-house modification programs which are backed by the investor. (One rep tells me that they need more information, but when I call in another rep tells me that is not true.  I’m told that I don’t qualify for the HAMP program.  I’m also told that the federal government denied me, and not the investor.  The rep that I talked to on August 28th told me the investor makes the decision. ( A misrepresentation uncovered by ASC’s own statements)  Since that time, I’ve found out from attorneys, and other banks that the federal government does not make the decision on approval, nor do they dictate the formula used by banks in making the determination (that fact will prove another material lie later on).  At the time I didn’t know that it was a lie.  More confusion!)

September 17, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (outbound conference call completed)

  • Called 888-995-HOPE and talked to Heather who put me us on this conference call with ASC.  Spoke with main number and was transferred to Loss Mitigation. (This is the number for the homeownership preservation foundation (link).  I called them to get help with the loan modification application process.  They initiated a conference call which uncovered more confusion and reinforces my conclusion that I did qualify for the program but the bank ignored that fact intentionally.  Here are the handwritten notes with markup in red (link).

September 22, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (outbound call completed)

  • June Marie left me a voicemail to call in.  I called loss mitigation and was told that Ms. Carol Michael was my new processor.  I was told that I was under review for an in house modification and that the processor needed updated financial documents – hardship letter, financial worksheet, PL.  I’ll also send the 2009 schedule E and both rent contracts.  The rep notified me that I could request a foreclosure postponement today so I did.  The rep issued the postponement email (GEM, he called it) to the investor. (Another new processor!  The fact that they moved me into an in house modification review without my knowledge indicates that this was a denial for a modification under the federal program.  This one of more than 20 times I had to request a postponement in order to stop the foreclosure while under review for a modification.  It makes me wonder why the bank doesn’t just put it on hold until the review process is over.  Maybe this is done in order to create and unfair environment in favor of the investor?  During this call, the rep said that I could refax updated documents for re-evaluation if I believed the figures they used were wrong. See the markup on page 2 of the written call notes (link) to see the inaccurate information they used to justify the denial.

September 22, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Fax Sent)

  • Sent in a fax (This fax was in response to the representatives document request that I received verbally on September 22nd during the conference call (Here are the documents again) (link).  On the fax cover page (link), I note explicitly that the numbers used were wrong and the supporting documents included in the fax show the proof of my statement.

September 24, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Outbound call completed)

  • called to follow up on RFI to find out numbers used
  • They put in a request for the original MHA processor to call me.  Her name is Debbie Jay.  She plugged in the numbers for the MHA application and can answer my questions.  They also put in a request to have the MHA application resubmitted using the 9-22 documents.  I’m supposed to call back in 5 days (29th). to find out if the MHA application will be re-processed and also find out if the sale date postponement will go through.  (Notice that the onus is on me to make sure that the home is not sold at auction.  This means that the bank takes no responsibility to notify the homeowner that the modification review is still being conducted or that a decision has been made.  This adds to a preponderance of evidence that the bank is not acting in good faith even though it represents to the homeowner otherwise.  This is more mis-representation.  During this call I put in a request for my processor Debbie Jay to call me to answer questions that only she could answer.

September 24, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Fax Sent)

  • Sent Fax – Tenant Leases

September 29, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Conference call completed)

  • Called Brice Vander Linden & ASC in the CCCS office with Debrah Watts
  • The gave me the run around regarding the foreclosure sale date postponement request.  Turns out the request was cancelled by the same person that submited it. (See The Attached Call Notes (link).  These notes document an ASC employee rescinding a request to have the foreclosure sale date postponed.  This is after ASC represented to me that they would make the request on my behalf during the September 24th phone call.)

October 4, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Outbound call completed)

  • called for status update
  • Rep verified the sale date is postponed till November 2.

October 11, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Outbound call completed)

  • I called to follow up on courtesy call on Oct 8.  It was a collections call.  For the loan modification review, they don’t need any other information from me.  I asked to speak with my processor and the rep told me that she did not have contact information for the processor but would send her an email asking her to call me back.

October 12, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Outbound call completed)

October 21, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Inbound call completed)

  • Rep on behalf of Carroll Michael.  They wanted clarification on the lease agreements and advised that when the leases are extended, to send updated documents.  Also advised that the foreclosure sale date was postponed to December 7th. (Another Postponement.  This happened on a monthly basis)

November 1, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Documents Received)

  • MHA program loan modification starter kit.pdf (Another MHA starter kit was received by mail)

November 4, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Documents mailed out)

November 10, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Phone call & Documents mailed)

  • Returned voicemail from this morning.  The call was regarding request for more documentation – 1) Hardship letter 2) 2 paystubs from last 30 days 3) 2009 Tax return. (They already have this information.  More work for me.  This happens over and over again which is a huge burden, particularly when you have other things you could be doing, such as looking for full time work, or networking, or trying to close new business.

November 11, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Documents received)

  • RFI Letter (attachment) received (Here ‘s an example of the complexity talked about in the post dated 10/07/13 (link).  I think the processor, on behalf of the investor, is picking apart my documents looking for any and all ways to make the process more complex.  It’s a perfect example of the obscene level of complexity that the banks and investors have concocted to be able to profiteer off of an economic collapse which they created. Here the bank represents that the federal government determines the deadlines and documentation requirements for the review process.  I’m willing to bet that is a mis-representation.

November 13, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (documents sent)

  • Mailed documents via fedex overnight 7964 3494 5428 (Documents included the 2009 Tax Return / P&L Statements / another RMA affidavit and the IRA income explaination.  The IRA income on my tax return came from the liquidation of my retirement account which was necessary to pay for living expenses, including the mortgage.

November 15, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (Documents received)

  • Foreclosure sale date notice (link) – 12/07/10 sale date, 4 copies. (Another of more than 20 foreclosure sale date notices that were received.  They sent 4 copies each with a different tracking number.  They appeared to be identical but a diligent homeowner would need to read each and every one every time to make sure they were aware of any information that the bank might attempt to slip through without your knowledge.  That’s 80 to 90 foreclosure documents that needed to be reviewed. 

November 16, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (inbound phone call & documents sent out)

  • phone call and mailed documenet
  • Loan processor called to get information on ira dispursement and ask about documents that I sent
  • Also the tax return was signed in the wrong place.  Today I sent the 1040 page 2 via usps.

November 19, 2010 – DATABASE ENTRY – Main database record (documents sent)


Springtime 2010 – When Confusion, Complexity, (and Corruption?) is in the air

As I understand it, there are 2 forms of harm that can occur as defined by the DTPA;  Personal harm or harm to property.  The federal government originally led the charge to protect consumers from harm inflicted by shady advertisers by expanding the mission of the Federal Trade commission to cover consumers (its original purpose being to protect sellers from each other).  Later, states wanted similar protections and came up with the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) so that they could regulate the same deceptiveness at the state level.

On February 5th, I received 3 Call request letters that were identical.  I’m not sure why they send multiples but common sense and fear led me to believe there might be some miniscule difference and that if I didn’t carefully inspect each one, then I might miss something important.  When this happens over and over again, it becomes very stressful because I fear that they’re trying to sneak something past me.  Also, the amount of time it takes to process the information is time that could be spent on more productive tasks.

On February 17th I received this Proof of income request  which (in this case) was defined as 3 months of Profit/Loss Statements and copies of tenant leases.  These documents were faxed to them on February 19th.

On Feb. 24th (only 7 days later) I got another information request for a financial worksheet and February Profit/loss statement (The P&L I had already sent them 7 days earlier.  Did they lose it?)  I faxed the documents on March 3rd.  According to my records this document was refaxed on March 9th.  The refax suggests to me that ASC lost the documents.  I can’t be 100% sure why there was a re-fax because I don’t have a record of it.  With 7 years’ worth of account management experience, I’m used to keeping records and yet I still forgot to record something (that’s probably not the only time it happened.  Even for a professional, it takes some time to develop record keeping habits meticulous enough to be able to keep up with the complexity of a mortgage loan servicer). What probably happened with the re-fax was, I may have called them to check status (which you have to do regularly or risk the servicer throwing out your application for some reason that you never knew about) and discovered during the phone call that they never received the March 3rd fax.

On April 2nd, I received this Default & acceleration notice.  You’ll notice that it’s only about $2,400.00 that I owe at this point (after 6 months’ worth of delinquency).  Seems like the easy solution is to just pay the full amount to reinstate the loan since there has been no “acceleration” of the note (see the acceleration notice above for a definition of “acceleration”).  But, if you have money lying around then of course, that’s what you would do but if you had the money, then you wouldn’t have fallen behind on the payments to begin with.  I was also delinquent on my utility bills, phone bill, and 3 credit card bills.  The utility company allowed me to pay back the delinquent amount by tacking on a little extra to each new bill (AT&T was not so friendly).  As you can see, paying off the loan delinquency in a lump sum, was impossible.  I could, however, afford to resume normal payments of $538.00 per month because my income had increased.  Unfortunately for me, per ASC documentation, that was not an available option.  They state clearly in the acceleration notice that:

“To avoid the possibility of acceleration, you must pay this amount on or before April 27, 2010 in CERTIFIED funds, to America’s Servicing Company, PO Box 1820, Newark, NJ 07101-1820.

The next entry in my database is a hardship letter & more financials that I faxed them on April 26th. This was probably faxed in without ASC requesting it because I had just gotten a new roommate and wanted to notify them of yet another income increase.  Now I was making $1,850.00 per month with expenses of about $1,300.00.

The next entry is the Lerma roommate lease re-faxed to them on May 7th.  It was faxed originally on February 19th but they wanted it updated with a new “signed on” date.  This common practice was a major aggrivation because they would take months to process the application which would force the documents to become “out of date”.  The out-of-date documents would trigger the underwriter (decision-maker on approval or non-approval) to kick the application back down to a lower level who would call (sometimes) with instructions to update the documents.  This happened constantly throughout the entire two-year process.  On May 13th, I received the first Decision on request for mortgage assistance.  You’ll notice that they listed my income at $1,069.50 even though my financial statements (faxed Feb. 24th) prove $1,500.00 worth of income ($1,350.00 after taxes).  So during the bulk of the review period, I was making $1,350.00 and my expenses were about $1,800.00 per month.  Granted, a 36% deficit looks bad to an underwriter, however my situation was improving as cited in the April 26th financial statement.  Notice that the April 26th financial statement was faxed at least a week prior to their decision to deny my request for assistance.  The new financial statement notified ASC that on May 15, my income would increase and also documented a decrease in expenses that occurred when I used cash to pay off other debt.

While you might argue that I could not afford a modification on the first go-round (debatable), the next attempt was a sure deal (or so I thought).  December 17th to May 15th was the period of time where I had an actual deficit in my income/expense ratio….That’s only 5 months.  Some states have a rule that prohibits acceleration of notes within a 6 month timeframe.  Not Texas.

Notice of intent to foreclose – Dated May 18th

Foreclosure sale date notice – Dated May 24th

January 11, 2010 – Good News America: Everybody is trying to help.

My loan was originally set up as an 80/20 which means 80% is originated by one bank while the other 20% is from another bank.  The 80% was done through a company that has since gone under but before the bankruptcy, my loan was transferred twice, ending up with America’s Servicing Company (Wells Fargo).  The ASC loan was a 5 year adjustable rate mortgage (ARM).  The risk with an ARM is that without a fixed rate, the bank can raise your monthly payment if the Fed raises their rate.  It’s a gamble because with a 5 year ARM you have a lower interest rate than a fixed rate plan for the first 5 years but in the 6th year, the rate goes up (at least that’s what the bank is gambling on).  When I decided on a 5 year ARM, I figured after 5 years, I can always refinance if necessary. On January 11th 2010, I got a notice from ASC stating that my interest rate was dropping, resulting in a lower monthly payment.  I guess my gamble paid off because my mortgage payment actually dropped.  The second mortgage with Chase bank is a 15 year fixed rate resulting in a consistent $241.65 per month.  Both mortgages together totaled $780.63 per month including insurance and taxes.  Not too bad for a 3-2 single family home worth $175,000.00 (Good luck finding a decent two bedroom apartment for under $800 per month in Austin, TX).  In recent years some homeowners have been criticized for being irresponsible because they “bought too much house” and therefore should lose it based on their own bad decision.  That’s debatable for anyone but in my case it’s not even a reasonable accusation and here’s why.  When things are going well in my line of work, I make about $3200.00 per month, not including rental income which is about $850.00 per month.  That means the mortgage was only 26% of the expected income level for my line of work.  Before the interest rate started to drop, it was as high as 37% but that’s not factoring in the rental income.  (Loan modifications were designed for people whose payments were even higher than that and the goal was to get their payments down in the 30-33% range by lowering the interest rate and even forgiving part of the debt).  If you consider my rental income, then the mortgage only got as high as 30% so, I don’t think I can be categorized in the “bought too much house” column.  My business plan was real simple; keep renting rooms to boarders until I finished the studio at which point I’d instead rent the studio for a lot more.  The demand for “Short Term Rentals” (or STRs) in Austin has risen sharply in recent years, so much so that a few years ago, the City of Austin started issuing permits for homeowners who want to take advantage of the business opportunity.  If my house had not been in foreclosure, I could have gotten one of those permits (there is only a limited number available for the various neighborhoods).

When the banking industry started to see a sharp increase in loan defaults, the federal government offered assistance to the public by funding HUD approved housing counseling services (This was part of a “Making Home Affordable” initiative started by the federal government to help homeowners avoid foreclosure).  ASC provided me with notices to that fact on a regular basis.  I guess the idea was that these counselors would help navigate the foreclosure avoidance process.  I was relieved that the federal government was doing something about this problem, so, I signed a power of attorney with one such business called Frameworks CDC.  They told me that I should forward my documentation to them and they would be an intermediary.  So, I tried to respond to ASC’s RFI on January 12th, 2010 when I sent the requested documents to Frameworks expecting that they would be aware of deadlines and forward them in time.  Then on January 25th I received a letter stating that my assistance request was denied because I failed to reply in the timeframe listed in the RFI. (Notice that in the RFI, ASC gives a 10 day deadline from the date of the letter which leaves only 5 days to deliver the response.  Since it takes 5 days to get it by mail and then another 5 days to send it back, well that leaves you a whopping 0 days to gather the documents.  Of course, you could fax the documents to them, but they include personal information such as social security numbers, loan numbers, IRS information and fax and email transmissions are not encrypted, which means anyone monitoring your computer/fax transmissions can read the contents.  Some would argue that worrying about lack of encryption is just paranoid however, I have to disagree since my identity has been stolen 3 times already; twice from government databases and once when a Chase Bank employee emailed my account information to his personal email address).  Another consideration when deciding how to send your documents is that, in some cases you need to use certified mail so that you can prove the bank received your response (This becomes important later when you have to file a lawsuit).  After I got the notice that ASC had not received my response, I called frameworks and asked my account representative what happened.  Turns out she hadn’t sent the documents and didn’t sound very concerned.  Nor did she want to accept any blame or level of responsibility to act in a timely manner.  So on February 1, I faxed the requested documents to ASC myself which included my hardship letter and income profit/loss statement.  Soon after that I cancelled the Frameworks power of attorney and signed up with a different agency but found them not to be any more helpful.  Most of the time when I had a question about the foreclosure process, the rep did not know the answer and I didn’t trust their ability or motivation to keep up with the process so, since then, I’ve been doing everything myself.  It makes me wonder how much of our tax dollars are going towards paying these counseling services.  And, why do we pay them, particularly since they don’t possess any unique industry knowledge that will help you save your home?  Maybe if they knew more than the homeowner and handled the paperwork reliably on our behalf it would be worth it but, clearly they don’t see that as their responsibility, so…..what’s the point?   Just because you claim that you are there to help, doesn’t mean you are….. Sounds like a waste of tax dollars to me.

December 20th, 2009 – Best Christmas Present Ever

It’s only 5 days before Christmas 2009.  At this point in the process, I was still naive enough to believe that America’s Servicing Company (ASC) was being sincere in their efforts to help avoid foreclosures.  Since then I’ve seen how the bank’s attorneys will use every trick in the book to force you out when their clients’ business interests are served by that course of action.  My house, in December 2009 had at least $50,000 worth of equity so the bank had no incentive to give me a modification.  It makes more business sense to foreclose and then sell the house since there is equity… at least in the absence of regulation.

Most people would be heading out of town around the 20th for the Christmas holiday.  I hadn’t really celebrated Christmas in several years since I lost touch with my family in East Texas, but most people do.  What a convenient time for the bank to be conducting foreclosure business.  You know, when the bank requests information, they’ll demand that they receive it within 10 days of the date of their letter, but you don’t really know how to proceed, especially if you’re new to all this foreclosure stuff.  It’s really hard to find help from lawyers, HUD approved councilors, and the like because they’re booked up or are already on vacation by the 20th.  I got a default notice that gave me until January 19th to bring my loan current or else face “acceleration” which means they can terminate your ownership of the home.  It was less than a week prior that I got the notice to send in the questionnaire for assistance and it would not be for another 4 days before they would even be able to confirm that they received my response.

Three days after Christmas, I received an acceleration notice.  It’s a good thing I wasn’t out of town trying to spend time with family when it came (a 10 day deadline would come pretty quick when you get the notice 5 days after the date on the letter).  On the 28th, I called ASC and they verified that they had received my statement of wages and expenses but, they now say they need proof of income.  So…I wrote a letter and faxed it to them with proof of income as they had requested.  Somewhere, I found this discontinue phone contact form.  It’s necessary to stop creditors from harassing you.  It may seem like a small thing but it’s a Godsend.  Creditors will drive you nuts calling you every week or two asking you the same questions over and over again.

On January 11th, I got this request for information (RFI).  You’ll notice that if they don’t receive your response within 10 days, they’ll throw out your request for assistance.  That’s not much time to do your research, collect the information, create documents and then mail it in.  It’s a good thing I had a home office, database, a scanner, fax machine, and the professional experience of an account manager.  Without those tools and resources, I think compliance with their demands would have been impossible.  Can you imagine the average homeowner with nothing more than a desktop computer and maybe a printer trying to respond to this type of request over and over again for 2 years?  I can’t, which is why I think this kind of highway robbery has never gone to trial.

DECEMBER 13TH, 2009 – Account Delinquency Letter

DECEMBER 13TH, 2009 – Account Delinquency Letter

On December 13th, 2009, I received an account delinquency letter from America’s Servicing Company (the mortgage servicer) on behalf of Wells Fargo and Deutche Bank.

I’d been in my house for just over 5 years.  Back in 2004, after looking all over south and southwest, I bought in a south Austin neighborhood between S. 1st and S. Congress.  It’s a good location because both streets will take you straight downtown.  That also meant that home values would likely continue to increase.  The house was a fixer upper previously owned by the Maxies.  Mr. Maxie was a former state trooper and worked on the secret service detail at the Texas State Capitol.  I’m not sure if they actually called it the Texas Secret Service but, it was their job to protect the governor.  Yup, he was one of then future president George W. Bush’s personal body guards.  Rumor has it, back in the 90’s a neighbor kid and his friends broke into the house, stole Mr. Maxie’s guns and then shot up his house with his own guns (some of the bullets are still inside the front door, which received a marginal D.I.Y. repair).  I don’t know if that adds value to the house but in Texas, it’s a pretty cool conversation piece when people come over for the first time…”Hey those look like bullet holes”.  “They are.  See, what happen was…”.  That’s the kind of thing that people talk about which is good for a business.  It may be a little weird but once the studio is finished, I’ll bet it will get people in the door to rent the studio, just from the word of mouth.  Besides, Austin is a weird town.

The thing that originally drew me to the house, however, was not the history connected to Mr. President George W., but it had been one of two model homes when the neighborhood was new back in the 1980’s.  What would have been a garage on a typical house, was enclosed for use as a real estate office and was nicely landscaped out front.  The former real estate office bonus room attracted my attention for use as a future film post-production studio.  My first studio was a fairly cubicle shaped bedroom on Shoreline drive, off East Riverside.  That’s where I slept and did the sound mix for “Master of the Game” (MOG), the first feature film to be shot at the now ubiquitous Austin Studios (formerly airplane hangars at Mueller airport, now redeveloped into a mixed-use subdivision.).  Since I had mixed “MOG” with great results (the film got a limited theatrical run and distribution on DVD through blockbuster.com), I knew what was needed and what wasn’t to get professional results out of a studio.  Given my background, it made perfect sense to buy the house and build one, in spite of the fact that I didn’t know the first thing about construction.  Another great thing about the Maxie house was that the electrical work was already configured for the builder’s intended use of that space as an office, not a garage which usually has only one GFCI plug (GFCI is one of those plugs with the red reset button, like what you find in some bathrooms…no good for a studio).  It had three 120v and one 240v circuits. The room was big.  Larger than your typical two car garage and it was in my price range….Jackpot!

When I got the delinquency letter, my resume listed 7 years’ experience in account management, project management, systems installation and maintenance, but the doors had closed on my future in the systems integration business.  I had only a few thousand left in my retirement account which I had cashed in so that I could continue paying my bills (including the mortgage).  Around that same time, I followed a lead with a local production company and was hired as an independent contractor on a month to month basis.  The job involved engineering and video operator work on mobile production trucks in the live sporting event arena.  This was right up my alley since I had a college degree from the University of Texas in TV and film production as well as 7 years’ experience installing, designing, and troubleshooting AV and TV systems and equipment.  After Three years of working as an independent contractor, all the hard work finally paid off when the production company offered me the video and lighting operator position at the soon to be launched “Longhorn Network”.  Full time work, health insurance, and regular pay.  How could a bank turn me down for a loan modification now?…  But, the LHN job happened later, towards the end of my effort to secure a loan modification.  Let’s go back to 2009.  Since I was now running my own business, I needed a home office, database, accounting software…etc.  I bought a new computer and all the software (mostly old versions off eBay) and got the office setup in the smallest room of my studio.  By the time I ran out of money, the home office was fully setup.  The database software was just sitting there staring me in the face not getting much use.  Managing accounts in the SI business required meticulous record keeping so, I was already conditioned for the difficult (if not impossible) job of keeping tabs on a giant corporation, but I never thought I’d use my new home office to navigate through such a personal ordeal.  Over the four years that followed, it would see more personal use than business.  But, what to do about that delinquency letter?  Well, I figured I should probably fill out the form and send it in…so I did.