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Monday, May 21, 2012

BOA Responds to my Blog on Supposed Modification Denials

BOA Responds to my Blog on Supposed Modification Denials


(UPDATE: I have been contacted by numerous homeowners who describe being told the exact same thing I was about how BOA handled this.)


On May 16, 2012 I published this blog post (click title to read it): DOJ Settlement Results in BOA “Denying” Thousands of Mortgage Modifications? (huh?) The gist of the May 16 blog post is that I recently spoke with a customer service type supervisor from Bank of America’s “Office of the CEO and President” who stated that BOA is sending denial letters instead of explanation letters for borrowers who have already placed requests for mortgage loan modifications but who may now be eligible for mortgage relief pursuant to the settlement between the 5 largest mortgage loan lenders/servicers, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the State Attorneys General. These servicers/lenders include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, and Ally Financial/GMAC. My article commented that this made no sense, and surely letters of explanation should have been/be sent instead of denial letters.


One way or another, my blog post caught the attention of some higher-ups at Bank of America, and that very same day I received a phone call from Bank of America, wanting to discuss the content of the article. I ended up having a lengthy (and interesting) conversation with someone at Bank of America (California office) who is in a public relations type role. For ease of reference, I’ll refer to this person as “the BOA rep.”


I was informed, that, upon initial inquiries of others “in the know” by the BOA rep., the BOA rep. does not believe that BOA is sending denial letters instead of explanation letters for borrowers who have already placed requests for mortgage loan modifications but who may now be eligible for mortgage relief pursuant to the settlement between the 5 largest mortgage loan lenders/servicers, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the State Attorneys General. The BOA rep. asked me to identify the particular case at issue, so as to further investigate and to try to ensure that it is handled properly. I will discuss the same with my clients, and so identify them and their case if that is what they prefer.


The BOA rep. and I spoke for over 30 minutes, both about the case at issue and other mind-boggling experiences I have had with BOA in foreclosure, mortgage loan modification, and other mortgage relief cases. I believe that the conversation was enlightening for both parties, and I hope that it will lead to some improvements. We agreed to leave the lines of communication open for this and other matters.


While attempting to counteract bad press was clearly a motivator for Bank of America and the BOA rep., I do appreciate the follow-up from BOA and will accept that some persons at Bank of America are working hard to do the right thing. I agreed to publish this update, as I believe that it’s important to put forward objective and balanced information, and to provide proper context for important matters like this.


McGrath & Spielberger, PLLC provides assistance to borrowers in need of mortgage relief services, such as mortgage loan modification, foreclosure negotiation, refinancing, and deed-in-lieu or other negotiated settlement resolutions.


 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DOJ Settlement Results in BOA “Denying” Mortgage Modifications? (huh?)

 


DOJ Settlement Results in BOA “Denying” Thousands of Mortgage Modifications? (huh?)


(UPDATE: see the bottom of this page for a link which explains BOA's direct response to this blog article)


 A few days ago, I was on the phone with a supervisor at Bank of America, discussing the unexpected mortgage loan modification denial letter we had received for one of our clients. The case at issue has a significant background, including some issues which had led to a higher level of attention from BOA. During this conversation, the supervisor made a few comments which particularly caught my attention: “Every borrower [with a modification request pending] who might qualify for the Department of Justice settlement program will be getting a modification denial letter.” (?!)  I believe my eloquent response was something similar to “HUH?” as I ran his words back through my head.


 When I asked for clarification, the supervisor stated “Yep, that’s how they [really meaning “we” – BOA] have decided to do it. I’ll be getting tons of these same calls. Anyone who has a HAMP request pending who may qualify for a DOJ settlement program will be getting a HAMP denial letter, because the Department of Justice program will take priority.”


 Let’s think about this just for a moment. BOA is going to send thousands of borrowers denial letters – not letters of explanation – not because they don’t qualify for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), but because they may qualify for a different program. What is the result going to be? Chaos, stress, confusion . . . and that’s just on the Bank of America side!


 Imagine if you’re a borrower who has been working on a mortgage loan modification with BOA for months, if not years. If your situation is typical, BOA has lost documents you’ve sent in, changed your account manager 3 times, failed to return at least some of your phone calls, and continued to move toward foreclosure even as you try to work with them toward a modification. You hear about the $25 billion dollar settlement between the Department of Justice and the five largest mortgage servicers (including Bank of America) and you think your loan may qualify for some additional relief – finally, some possible good news! Then imagine that you receive a letter from BOA that your application for a mortgage loan modification has been denied. Chaos, stress, confusion, anger result.


 I hope that was I was told was incorrect, or that it was at least incomplete. I hope that someone at BOA who matters has enough sense to ensure that letters of explanation are sent out, not letters of denial. Isn’t it very obvious that there is a right way and a wrong way to do this?


 The right way would simply entail a letter that is titled “Letter of Explanation About your Mortgage Loan Modification Application” and says something similar to “If you are receiving this, it means that you currently have a mortgage loan modification application pending with us, and that you may be eligible for a new program which is currently being put together. This new program will take priority, and thus if you qualify for it, your application for mortgage relief will be processed through that program instead of through the HAMP program. In the meantime, . . . .”


 Believe it or not, I want to give lenders and servicers the benefit of the doubt, as there are some very smart people in key places at these institutions and as this mortgage crisis is without any easy fix. I just wish they didn’t make it so hard on themselves and everyone else.


UPDATE: BOA Responds to my Blog on Supposed Modification Denials


 McGrath & Spielberger, PLLC provides assistance to borrowers in need of mortgage relief services, such as mortgage loan modification, foreclosure negotiation, refinancing, and deed-in-lieu or other negotiated settlement resolutions.


                                                          

Saturday, May 5, 2012

NC’s Constitutional Amendment One: 10 Important Points You Need to Know

NC’s Constitutional Amendment One: 10 Important Points


You Need to Know (by attorney Jason McGrath)


 


The following are facts, and I write this from the objective perspective as a 16 year attorney analyzing the law, not from a personal or subjective perspective. At the bottom of this page is a link to the text of the Amendment and an explanation of it from the 2012 North Carolina Voter Guide.


1) North Carolina law already restricts marriage to being between one woman and one man. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on this proposed Amendment (much of it your taxpayer dollars), and many have asked why that money wasn’t instead used to prevent teachers from being laid off, to re-open libraries, and to fund programs to create jobs.


2) If the proposed Amendment fails, the law will not change – nobody loses rights they currently have, and the legal status of a traditional marriage is not legally weakened in any way. Again, NC law already limits marriage to being between one woman and one man. The North Carolina law which already bans homosexual and other non-traditional marriages was never “under attack”.


3) The proposed Amendment does not just apply to “marriage” - by its wording, it applies to all romantic/domestic relationships between non-married persons, whether heterosexual or homosexual, no matter how committed and stable. Any rights or benefits a non-married significant other may have could be eliminated. The Amendment outlaws the recognition of any other “domestic legal union” besides a marriage between one woman and one man. The term “domestic legal union” is a made-up one with no definition or useful history, but by the words themselves would seem to describe any committed relationship other than traditional marriage.


4) The proposed Amendment may have many negative “unintended” consequences. For example, the proposed Amendment may weaken or eliminate healthcare benefits that some currently have. If only traditional marriages can be legally recognized, then how is the law going to allow non-married persons in committed relationships to receive the same consideration as married persons? If you are currently covered by your significant other’s health insurance, but you are not married, that coverage may be at risk. There are tens of thousands of persons in North Carolina who are covered under a significant other’s insurance policy. If the employer is a public agency or even receives public funding Amendment One may eliminate benefits currently provided to non-married significant others.


5) Family law professors from every single law school in North Carolina oppose Amendment One. These are smart people, experts in their fields. They are men, women, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Christians, non-Christians.


6) The Attorney General for the State of North Carolina opposes Amendment One and has called it “unwise and unclear”.


7) The proposed Amendment may weaken or eliminate current protections for some victims of domestic violence. If only traditional marriages can be legally recognized, then how is the law going to allow non-married persons in committed relationships to receive the same consideration as married persons? For example, if your daughter’s or sister’s fiance beat her and she applied for a Domestic Violence Protection Order, an argument can be made that, because a traditional marriage is the only relationship which can be legally recognized, your daughter or sister would not be entitled to the same protection a married woman would be.


 8) The proposed Amendment may interfere with your loved one’s rights to visit you in the hospital, act as your healthcare surrogate, and otherwise be involved in important aspects of your life and health and may also weaken or eliminate child custody or visitation rights for heterosexuals as well. If only traditional marriages can be legally recognized, then how is the law going to allow non-married persons in committed relationships to receive the same consideration as married persons?


9) States which have passed "protect traditional marriage" laws and amendments have not seen a decrease in the divorce rate or the rate of unwed mothers.


10) The passage of Amendment One will be very expensive and will require money and other resources which otherwise could be spent on jobs, schools, communities and roadways. If Amendment One passes, many things will change – mostly changes that were not necessarily even intended. The court battles will be epic and will last for years. They will cost millions of dollars. If Amendment One passes, many millions more will be spent because of it – is that what you want your taxes to pay for, or would you rather have street lights replaced and have better schools for your children?


Amendment One’s language and the official explanation of it can be found here: http://www.ncvoterguide.org/amendment/index.php