Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Neverending Story

As I've talked about before, we've been in the process of refinancing our home. We went with my former employer, Wells Fargo (actually, I was a senior VP at Wachovia, which was acquired by Wells after I retired). I felt some loyalty to the organization and they were offering the same good rate that competitors in this market were offering (2.875%)

First contact was wonderful - a loan originator who seemed quite smart and efficient. He sent us a passel of paperwork, part of the downside of any such transactions, but it was all standard stuff, including a Form 4506 so they could have access to our tax returns. Standard stuff, again.

Our credit scores were excellent, and the LTV (loan to value) was under 50% of the appraised value of the home. We were both employed for three years in our current positions, and our combined salary meant that our debt to earnings ratio was low, all of which made us  excellent prospects for a mortgage, according to all lending standards and according to our originator.

He said he would pass me along to the next person who would be our contact, a person who was in essence the one who pushes the paper through the maw of the processing system. I talked to her ont he phone. She seemed very friendly and committed to getting this done quickly, and thought it would go very smoothly given all the factors listed above.

We sent in the documents she requested, including pay stubs, W-2s and such, statement of use of proceeds etc. I mentioned to her that, as clergy, I receive a non-taxable housing allowance in addition to my stipend, and that this was duly recorded on the pay stubs as such and was also so noted on the W-2. "Well, just to keep everybody happy, would you have someone in authority send a letter to that effect to me?" No problem - I had our parish treasurer do up a letter and I sent it to the processor. The next day she called back and said that the underwriters were having trouble reaching someone who could verify my salary. Well, it's summertime. Our parish administrator is part-time during the summer. "She'll be in the office Tues, Weds and Thurs from 9 to 1 pm this week." She said, "Okay, I'll give them a note telling them to call tomorrow after 9 am."

I'm in the office the next day at 9. The parish adminstrator is not yet there and the phone rings. It's the underwriter, who wants to verify my salary. "She's not here - she'll be here within the next 15 minutes."

The underwriter says she will call back...which she 5 pm. Despite the fact that the note from the processor said what the adminstrator's hours are. The next morning the processor calls up and says, with suspicion in the tone of her voice, "The underwriters are still having trouble getting a hold of the administrator. Is there anyone else who can verify your employment? Do you have an HR department? "  Umm, no...

"I told you her hours. They called at 5 pm when no one was here. If they can't call during that time, I can give you the number of our treasurer and she will call you."

"Is she there?"

"No. She's a volunteer. This is her cell phone number..."

"No. It's got to be someone calling in to a number that we can verify as from the church. Don't you have an HR department?"  Ummm, no...

"No, we're a church, a small church. I am the only full time employee. My parish administrator is part time, as is my sexton and my music director."

"I guess we'll try calling back again when she's there..."

...and so it continued. Every business day for two months I received a call asking for another document, or to resend a document I already sent. They questioned the veracity of every single thing I told them. They forgot to ask for stuff that they knew that they would need, waiting for the last minute and then demanding I come up with it immediately (yes, I do have a day job in addition to getting the refi done). The ultimate in stupidity was when they asked me to fax the past two years' tax returns to them. "Why did I have to sign the 4506 if you wanted me to fax you the returns?" No answer. So I faxed 60 pages worth of returns.

Finally, after they re-verified my salary three more times, the loan was okayed by the underwriters for closing.  Another person, my closer, now called. It was going to take a couple of days for all the documents to be completed, and then they would send a settlement agent to our home to sign the documents. It actually took a little over a week, then the agent came to do the paperwork.

After we had signed all of the papers, I asked the agent when the balance due us (we were taking a chunk of cash out of the transaction) would be wired to us. "You want it wired? They didn't include the document for that in the package. Oh, well, give your closer a call and tell him that's what you want, and he'll take care of it."

After he left, I sent an email to the closer, who seemed surprised that the doc hadn't been in the package, but asked for the info so that he could make sure the wire was set up. He assured me this would be done.

Several days passed, and still no wire. I knew that there was a recission period, and it was now up. Where was the wire transfer?

Closer said he had arranged for it that day, and the other payments that were being made pursuant to the transaction would be wired as well.

The next day, I received a UPS express mail envelope with checks for us and for the other payments, meaning that they weren't wired, and I would have to send them out express mail so further interest would not accrue.

I sent an email of complaint saying that this was not what we had agreed upon. The closer apologized and said he would look into it.

Today I went to the bank to deposit the substantial check (written by the bank's settlement agent) into our checking account. The ATM spat out a little message saying "we are delaying the availability of the funds you have deposited because our risk models indicate the checks may be returned unpaid. The funds will be available on July 22nd." Eleven days from now. This despite the fact that one check was from a national brokerage account and the other check was from THE BANK'S OWN SETTLEMENT AGENT.

When I called the bank, they seemed to be unable to comprehend the Kafakesque absurdity of this situation. I sent an email to the closer.

He has one day to rectify this and get the funds released. Then the furies will descend....

UPDATE: As of this morning, the funds were available. My midnight missive to the closer appeared to have the desired effect. I'm still going to change banks, though.

1 comment:

DLM said...

Often times I might say, "My prayers will be with you" ... but I wonder whether they might do as well sent (express, of course) for that closing agent!

I remember the night before closing on my first home, there being a five p.m. scramble to get hold of the death certificate of the previous owner's wife, who had died some thirty years previously.

Oh for the love of banks. I was a WachSec'ian myself, and have never set foot near a Fargo. This is typical of the stories I hear about 'em.