Some might remember five or six posts back when I tried for a refinance loan and was rebuffed almost immediately by Sam at Quicken Loans, much to my heartbreak.
Well, I’m back at it again.
Every weekend driving to and from work, I was tormented by radio ads for US Mortgages, boasting about how they could help people other companies couldn’t. Work with lower credit scores and higher debt-to-income ratios. Act now before rates go up again. Every weekend, back and forth, for weeks, until I could take it no more and went to their website.
I filled out a brief form and within twelve hours heard from Dave, with this message: “I will be working on your loan.”
Not knowing better, and after my abrupt dismissal from Sam, this sounded like the deal was a lock already. I was so young, so naive. But very cautiously optimistic.
The process began with the request of a few documents, not too terrible. We started out with a “streamlined” loan, where, believe it or not, they didn’t even need to verify income, just proof of employment. Well hell, if I’m anything, it’s employed. I had this thing in the bag. Hang on. I’m going to break this down into a timeline for you.
Week one: I start sending Dave documents. The more info he gets, the more he asks for, until literally every day it’s at least three more items. Crazy things, like a letter from our HOA company, or a letter from me explaining why I’m making less money this year than last year (“ask my stupid ex-boss, who cut everyone’s hours for no good reason”). Tery and I joke that next he’ll want grandma’s secret brownie recipe. Little do I know these would be the salad days of the process.
Week two: We can’t do streamlined anymore. He asks about getting Tery in on it. I say her credit score won’t do us any favors. He quickly agrees once he sees the report. He at least gets to work removing her car loan from my credit report (after I send seven documents proving I’ve never paid a penny on it, only co-signed for it), which was the dealbreaker for Sam and I wonder why he didn’t consider this option. I joke with Dave about the seemingly endless hoops. He says, “Well, back in 2008 they gave a loan to anyone who could fog a mirror.” Once again I (and other responsible homeowners) am made to pay for the failings of others.
I like Dave. He’s gruff and no-nonsense, but there’s a sense of humor underneath. If I had to describe him, I picture the guy on the AT&T ads:
It’s a reassuring, confident voice. I trust him to do everything he can for me.
Week three: We seem close. I receive paperwork from a strange bank that looks like a new mortgage ready for signing (it mentions US Mortgages, so it isn’t just a strange bank trying to trick me). I’m excited, but Dave tells me to disregard it, it was drawn up before some terms had changed. Such a complicated process, and I just want it over with. He does tell me to hold off on paying October’s mortgage because “if” this goes through, I’ll get to skip a month or two in between the old and new loan. It’s still an awfully big “if” though, and my nerves are starting to fray. I don’t like paying bills late (or not at all), although Tery rolls her eyes at what a goody-goody I am; I point out that we would have closed weeks ago if she hadn’t trashed her credit score by paying bills late or not at all.
Week four: Have heard nothing. Dave asks if I can show a bank statement with $1500 or so in my account. If I could do that, I wouldn’t be going through this. Starting to suspect a bit of a disconnect between his income tax bracket and mine, with him assuming I can just pull $500 out of nowhere.
Week five: Dave calls. It would be really nice if that Discount Tire card wasn’t on my report (I had just bought four new tires about two months previously). I agree, but I live here in reality where it is on my report. I’m below the top limit of debt-to-income ratio, but just barely, and he wants to bring me down a few points (down in this instance is good). “If you could skip a couple months on your mortgage, do you think you could pay that off and get rid of it?” It’s only $345, so yes, easily. Here’s the catch: He means for me to pay it off immediately to improve my ratio before the loan is approved. A bit like putting the cart before the horse. I extract a promise from him that, if I pay this, the loan will get done, because I’m paying it with money that normally would go toward the mortgage. I.e., if I pay this, I will not be able to pay my mortgage if the deal goes south, and then I will be hugely screwed because about all I have going for me is my immaculate credit score, and I imagine a late mortgage payment would put a big tarnish on that. He seems undeterred and utterly sure that it will not be an issue. He says he talked to his boss (which doesn’t inspire the greatest confidence, I’ll admit), and his boss feels “100% certain” we can get this done.
So I pay it. Dave (or Dave’s underwriters) require a zero balance letter from the company, which it turns out can’t be emailed but rather must be snail mailed in 7-10 business days. I spend a day wondering why the internet was invented if we still have to do things this way.
Oh yeah, and this week, the government shuts down; something that doesn’t worry me overmuch because it doesn’t seem to affect me directly–until 16 days later when idiot Congress starts playing chicken with the full faith and credit of our country. But Dave never even brings it up, which surely I think he would if it were a factor.
Two days later I’m emailed by someone else in Dave’s organization, requesting a document I sent back in week one. Leading me to wonder a) if they just look at all these things I send them once and immediately shred them, b) do they just toss them all in a big pile with all their clients and pull one at random to work on each day, which would explain the long periods of silence where it seems nothing is being done, and c) if maybe they truly don’t know about manila folders and how easy it is to organize things with them. If this loan goes through, maybe I’ll send them a case as a present. I remember going through similar frustration with our original mortgage process, so I’m a bit dismayed that nothing has changed in twelve years.
My patience starts wearing thin.
The next day after that, Dave calls sounding particularly sepulchral. We have to start again, bringing Tery back onto the loan. Paying off the credit card STILL isn’t good enough. I’m upset. So upset I don’t even know how to react, so I just numbly agree. He says they can use my excellent credit score and Tery’s higher income, and go from there.
I have questions, none of which I ask him. Like WHY we didn’t use this option from the beginning? But more importantly, WHAT KIND OF MONKEYS were working on this loan, and why was it not possible to predict the futility of paying off the card BEFORE I put myself $300 into the hole?
I keep it together for about twelve hours. The following morning I sit down to pay all my other bills (other than my mortgage) when I have my first real live panic attack. I start hyperventilating. Then I start weeping. Then I start punching the desk. The whole time I have the weird sensation of half my brain saying calmly (and a bit irritably), “Stop this. This will accomplish nothing. This is a pointless waste of energy,” while the other half screams at the top of its lungs, “FUCK YOU. I NEED THIS. THIS IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW SO FUCK YOU.”
I force myself to calm down so I can start working my shift. Halfway through I write Dave an email explaining what happened, asking what the hell went wrong on his end, and accusing his colleagues of incompetency without actually using the word “monkeys,” with Herculean effort.
He doesn’t respond.
He does talk to Tery though, a small comfort. Other stuff happens, like my employers contacting me to confirm they can verify employment (something I thought was being done a few weeks ago). My savings bank calling to confirm that the new strange bank could be listed as my new mortgage holder (I wasn’t sure why they cared, but learned more later). A new packet arriving from the strange bank, this one with even sweeter terms than those mentioned by Dave.
Those massive packets from the new bank are about the only ray of hope I have. Surely they wouldn’t be destroying whole forests for someone they have no intention of dealing with, would they?
And because I had to suffer through this process for over a month, and because this is already quite long, and because everyone loves a cliffhanger, this is TO BE CONTINUED….