“This call may be monitored or recorded to ensure quality service.” That’s what I hear every single time I call CitiMortgage (at last count I’ve dialed them 127 times since October) and every time I hear it I want to shout, “shouldn’t you have assured my service would be quality before you began processing all the wrong paperwork on my case and started foreclosure procedures?”
In the November GFT I wrote about my house for sale, the demise of the big banks, and how to shift our money to a local economy. Now, five months later, the Big Banks have truly failed me and you, my neighbor, your neighbor, and every one else. All those stories you’ve heard about the Big Banks foreclosing on people by accident, filing incorrect paperwork? It’s all true. I ought to know. It’s happening to me.
Now when I call Citimortgage to ask for a supervisor, I take it personally that I cannot speak to someone directly. Have they red-flagged my account with notes of “that crazy lady from Santa Fe who keeps calling to ask questions?” or are they really so enormous a corporation that human connection is entirely impossible?
My house has been for sale since September 27, 2010, originally listed at $259,900. Now it’s listed at $185,000. There has not been a single offer from the handful of showings I’ve had. I am underwater, submerged, bailing myself out as fast as I can find a bucket to hold water. I followed every step I was told I should take:
1. Put the house on the market
2. Drop the price if no offers appear
3. Drop the price again if still no offers appear
4. Has it been 90 days? File for a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” to turn over the property to the bank without penalties or arrearages
5. Fax a “hardship package” to explain why I am asking for “deed in lieu of foreclosure”
6. Call to confirm that package has been received
Not only did I follow every step, checking each one off, I actually BELIEVED the verbal commitments I got from the various customer service reps who said that my best options were to pursue the “deed in lieu” because I would be forgiven and set free. Every Monday for months I called CitiMortgage to update them and finally I called to make sure they had in fact received the 68-page fax package requesting the “deed in lieu.” A week later I received an e-mail telling me I had to fax the package again, this time writing the loan number ON EVERY PAGE. So I did. Then I followed up again (call #117) to make sure THAT was received. And it was, although they needed a few more things. So I faxed that 32 pager too. And followed up again. Nope. Haven’t received any of it. “Did you fax it to the correct number? Did you put the loan number on the TOP OF EVERY PAGE, MS POZZEBON, LIKE WE ASKED YOU TO?” I was being yelled at, scolded. So I re-faxed, punching in the numbers with an angry fervor while I spent several hours of my life I will never get back in a fax room at my realtor’s office.
“This is ridiculous,” my realtor said to me. It is ridiculous. Ridiculous that I don’t qualify for any mortgage reduction plans because I have not lost my job. Ridiculous because every time I call The Bank I get asked if I’ve applied for a mortgage reduction plan. Ridiculous because clearly Customer Service Rep #1 and #54 don’t read the notes of all the Reps I’ve spoken to in between. I was at my wit’s end – frustrated, exasperated – ready to move out and move on. Ready to walk away from a house I poured my sweat, tears and cash into. Why won’t they listen to me? Why can’t they help me? Why is this happening to me?
I told my story in November because once again, I believed I was doing all the right things by following the advice of Customer Service Rep #15. Since then I’ve had a dozen people tell me that they are going through the same thing and were too nervous to discuss it in public or with friends and family. My own family even asked why I was talking so publicly about my financial situation. I’m doing it because we’re all in this mess together but the Big Banks are winning. My attorney tells me that this is all really common and hundreds of people in New Mexico are dealing with the exact same issues. I can fight this for the next several years because it’s possible that the original title from the purchase of the home in 2006 might not have been filed and who knows who actually owns it? The original mortgage was sold from MortgageIt to CitiMortgage so the possibility exists that the title never changed hands. It could take a clerk years to untangle this mess. Or, I could fight it for several years and wear down the Big Banks until they give in and give me the house back. The idea of fighting makes my head spin and anyone who knows me knows that I am a fighter but with this situation I think it’s time to put up the white flag.
Foreclosures and short sales are driving down home prices all over our town. On my street every time I lowered my asking price, my neighbor dropped their price even lower. One neighbor told me they are barely hanging on to their house but are terrified to put it on the market because they see how little we are asking for our homes. The ripple effect is washing over my cul de sac of eight homes.
“The fact is that no one wants foreclosure, including your lender,” according to Nate Blackstun, Vice President of Mortgage Default at CitiMortgage on their very own blog, posted February 16, 2011. “It’s in everyone’s best interests to work it out… to save your home from foreclosure.” Really? Then why can’t I get through to a supervisor to discuss my case or have someone call me back?
Federal regulators have asked the Big Banks to investigate themselves on wrongful foreclosures, to dig into work-force supervision and paperwork mishandling. I asked for this very same thing two weeks ago and haven’t had a return phone call. So here’s another message for you CitiMortgage: When you post on your blog that I should contact you about my case and that you want to help me, you should actually help me.
Turns out, CitiMortgage did receive my fax package, which included an original purchase sale agreement from when I bought the house in 2006. They proceeded to process a short sale using that purchase agreement. Let me repeat: there have been no offers on my home since the day I listed it. How can they process a short sale if there’s no offer? Oh, I see now. They processed all my paperwork IN THE WRONG DEPARTMENT, quickly denied me further help and began to foreclose on my loan. I’m expecting a call from Nate Blackstun, Vice President of Mortgage Default any day now but I have a feeling the call will start like this: “This call will not be monitored to ensure your customer satisfaction.”
Vicki Pozzebon is Executive Director of the Santa Fe Alliance, a nonprofit organization working toward building a local living economy through community, local ownership and advocacy. www.santafealliance.com.