Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The House Buying Nightmare Part 2

This is the second part of my story regarding how a simple mortgage transaction turned into a nightmare I'll never forget. You can read the first installment here: The House Buying Nightmare Part 1.

The Email System

When Linda (my realtor) sends or receives an email regarding one of her client's home purchases, her email system automatically sends a copy of the email to her client, the loan officer working with the client and the selling agent. It's a brilliant system because it ensures that everyone knows what's going on and everybody's on the same page.

So Linda sends an email to Bob (the selling agent) letting him know that the appraiser was not able to complete the appraisal because the utilities were not on. Bob comes back with "Yes, they were on. All he had to do was flip the breaker." Because of how Linda's system works, copies of these emails were sent to both me and Lucifer. Lucifer got extremely angry when Bob suggested that the appraiser had to flip a breaker. He sent an angry email to both Linda and Bob telling them that wasn't how appraisals work and it was Bob's responsibility to flip the breaker beforehand.

Keep in mind that both Linda and Bob have been real estate agents for a very long time. In general, real estate agents know far more about appraisals than loan officers. Linda was perfectly polite, but Lucifer's unprofessional tone set Bob off, and Bob fired back accusing Lucifer of being completely ignorant (which was true) and having hired an appraiser who didn't know the first thing about appraising a house. Lucifer then went off on him, again through email, like an angry third grader.

Me? I just quietly made copies of those unprofessional emails, figuring I might need them later.

What I didn't find out until a couple of weeks later was that, following this altercation, Lucifer called Linda and  demanded that she terminate her ingenious email system. He did not like me receiving updates on the house. It wasn't necessary, he said. Linda politely refused to comply. Lucifer got angry, and hung up.


When you apply for a mortgage, turning in your loan application and your preliminary paperwork (pay stubs, W2s, etc.) isn't always enough. When the loan goes through underwriting, the underwriter can request any number of additional documents. This happened to me. While I have no problem providing the additional documents the bank needs, Lucifer had a real problem keeping up with them. He managed to lose my bank statements three times and just about everything else I turned in he lost at least once. The result? We had to file for extension after extension on closing.

He was also uncommunicative. He didn't return calls and he didn't answer questions. I had to take any questions I had about the process to Linda.

The Good Faith Estimate

Remember in Part 1 how I stated that Lucifer drew up our estimated closing costs in the very beginning? He had all the numbers he needed because I brought the exact – not estimated – EXACT escrow numbers with me. I did this to ensure that there wouldn't be any surprises. But guess what? After the repairs were completed and everything was on track to close, I got an updated good faith estimate in the mail for $2000 more than Lucifer originally quoted me.

I nearly had a heart attack. The price of the loan had gone up by roughly $6000, but that isn't enough to merit a $2000 increase in closing costs. I called a friend of mine who works as a managing loan officer at another bank (the only reason I didn't go through her in the first place was because she was so far away) and faxed her the paperwork to look over. Her answer was simple: Lucifer never included the escrow costs in his first estimate. I asked if he did – twice – and he assured me that he had, but he didn't. She also sent the paperwork to another loan officer who came back with the same story. Both of them warned me that he would try to claim that he didn't make a mistake and that the increased home price was the culprit. They said not to believe it for a second. He just screwed up.

I tried calling Lucifer and emailing him, but he was conveniently MIA.

I called Linda and told her what had happened. I had thought for a long time that Lucifer had made it his personal mission to make sure that my loan did not close, but I couldn't think of any reason why he would do that. After all, he only makes a commission if the loan closes. It didn't make any sense and it sounded like a conspiracy theory. Surprisingly, Linda was the one who brought the subject up. She said, "Lee, I hate to say this, but I get the feeling Lucifer doesn't want this loan to close. I have no idea why, but he doesn't want you to have this house."

I was done with Lucifer. Linda gave me his boss's cell phone number and I decided to take the matter over his head.

Calling the Boss

I called Lucifer's boss who happened to be on vacation. Still, vacation or no, I needed help. I explained what had happened and he assured me that he would look into it. He also apologized profusely for the fact that we had not been able to get in touch with Lucifer.

I guess the Boss Man called him about it because I got a call from Lucifer later that afternoon that was syrupy sweet and apologetic. Until I brought up his $2000 mistake, that is. As expected, he tried to blame the $6000 loan increase for the additional $2000 in closing costs, but I was prepared for that. When I told him I'd sent his paperwork to two other loan officers for review and both said that he would say that and that it wasn't true, he hit the ceiling, demanding to know why I did that. I calmly told him that when you don't trust what your doctor says, you get a second opinion and that my money was important just like my health.

When I pressed for an answer regarding the closing costs (I just wanted him to admit his mistake) he repeatedly told me that "was not an issue" to which I replied that it most certainly was an issue to me. He then pretended that my phone was cutting out and he couldn't hear me.

It doesn't get more juvenile than that, folks.

Here's the thing: Wells Fargo wants a 60 day paper trail for all money in your bank account that you use to pay closing costs. The loan had been extended four times at this point, and had Lucifer gotten the numbers right to begin with, I could have deposited the cash and used it at closing. Because he didn't get the numbers right, I wouldn't be able to close on the home until that $2000 had been in my account for 60 days because there was no paper trail for the money. The day before the updated good faith estimate was mailed, he requested additional copies of my bank statements. He knew what I did and did not have in the account. If I couldn't close on the home (and he knew I couldn't at this point) then the loan would fall through. Most loan officers would call the client and say "Hey, we have a problem," but not Lucifer. He only requested additional bank statements (he'd sent the others to underwriting) to make sure that I didn't have an additional $2000 and a 60-day history to back it up.

It was crystal clear at this point that he was intentionally tanking my loan...but it would be a few more days before I figured out why.

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