October 29, 2010

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Naive Melody House Pendant, listed in the Earthenwood Etsy Shop.

So I have some very good news in my personal life!  I finally refinanced the mortgage on my home!  While this was good in saving me money every month, shaving a couple of years off of my mortgage, and lowering my interest rate, it was much more important than just those things.  This was the final step in ending the paperwork and obligations of my divorce.  Once the deed gets signed over, the house will be in my name only, and I can officially put an end to this chapter of my life.  This has been a nearly daily concern for over two years now, something that has caused many tears, much frustration, sleepless nights, many headaches, and a mountain of paperwork.  While I am celebrating now, I want to document my story briefly here while it is fresh in my mind, because I will likely be sending in complaints to the mortgage company and possibly the BBB.

After doing research and fighting with the mortgage company for many months, unable to refinance at all, finally some new programs came into play that allowed me to be able to refinance even though home prices in this area have dropped particularly low. My home is underwater, but is valued just high enough that I became eligible to refinance under a new program. The process started out promising, with a loan officer promising it was straight forward and should be quick and inexpensive, and it was ok for a while... I was hopeful.  Things went downhill after about a month of waiting.  I was asked to provide so many documents and paperwork, some of the craziest things, to prove my income and business.  I spent much money on faxes of redundant paperwork, which was promptly lost by the mortgage processors, and had to be sent again.  Somewhere along the line, I let a few weeks slip by without calling and poking them, and in that time my initial processor left and "was no longer with the company" so another processor picked up and proved to be just as incompetent and disorganized.  Meanwhile my good faith estimate contract expired, which made me very unhappy, but I was assured it would be honored (it was). My emails and phone calls were unanswered by both the loan officer and processors.  I spent weeks waiting and wondering and being left in the dark.

Clearly, changing the mortgage from a jointly owned contract to a single was a problem, as was my self employment. I don't have the tidiness of a single W2 for my tax return or a clear cut source of income, which clearly threw everyone for a loop. At one point I had to send a year's worth of bank statements proving I had paid the mortgage from my own account, which I did (and they lost half of them).  After sending 12 pages of the statements, payment circled, I was told I needed the WHOLE statement from each month, blank pages and all.  Insane! The final documents included me having to send a signed and dated letter explaining why my business did not have a land line (a cell phone number only) or a physical address (uh, I work from home) and why it was not listed in the yellow pages (what?).  Behind the times a bit, to say the least, not very aware of how a successful internet based business might work.  But I carried on and sent the faxes and wrote the letters and finally I got the phone call last week that I was cleared to close!  I was naive in hoping the closing would go easily.  
The processor, after several ridiculous calls back and forth to the title company, told me that they were out of state and thus had no office to meet in.  Great, so I have to have the meeting in my home.  I didn't like this idea, mostly because I was concerned I would end up waiting around all day for someone to show up (which is exactly what happened).  I was told on Tuesday that the title company would call me to make the home appointment and I would get an email with the closing costs so I could get the official cashier's check, and we would be meeting on Thursday.  I finally got the email Thursday morning, but never got a phone call.  I ran out to the bank in the morning and got the check, and arrived home to learn from the processor that the title company would be showing up in less than an hour.  So much for that call to make the appointment.  I waited.  I emailed, getting increasingly more agitated.  The title guy showed up at 4pm.  I thought my head might explode.  We signed the papers and were finally done!  whew!  The title guy had the nerve to tell me (having learned how frustrated I was from the processor who was receiving my frustrated emails that day) that this process has been this way for everyone.  The whole industry is overworked, overloaded, delayed, and disorganized.  Seriously?  Is that supposed to make me feel better?  I think it is unacceptable.
Upon leaving, he also told me to keep an eye on interest rates, because they might drop lower, and I might be able to refinance again!  You have got to be kidding me.
This is the single most frustrating thing I have ever gone through.  I nearly gave up many times, and I think they create the bureaucracy just for that effect.  They lose money with refinances and it creates work for them to do, so I think the customer gets pounded with insane amounts of paperwork and demands, so they just give up.  I was determined, as I really needed the refinance for the closure and to untangle personal finances and keep them safe, so it was very emotional, but insanely frustrating.  My heart goes out to anyone else who is going through this process, it is maddening.

Melanie is an artist, blogger, writer, and ceramic beadmaker at Earthenwood Studio. Her beads and components can be found at her Etsy shop and her jewelry can be found in her Etsy Galleria. To comment on this post, visit the original post at the Earthenwood Studio Chronicles Blog.


  1. Grats on a long hard fight and a job well done! Now kick back and relax for the day :)

  2. Wow, what a process for you! I'm so glad it's all over (and totally relieved that our recent refi wasn't the same way). :)

  3. Christine RitcheySunday, October 31, 2010

    Hey, I feel your pain! I'm going through the same refi hell right now. I think the main problem with both you and me is that our income isn't normal. It throws the mortgage companies off kilter and makes them confused. I believe that they are easily confused.

    Mortgage companies seem to want people with normal 9 to 5 jobs and I think anything else throws them into a ditch. My income comes from an annuity, a small trust fund, book royalties and tutorial sales. This makes the mortgage people crazy! *-> I don't think they believe that anyone can make a living in anything but a "real" job.

    I'm more fortunate than you because my house appraised for about $80,000.00 more than I owe! THAT made me very, very happy! Fortunately, prices where I live are still steady and haven't lost value. I can certainly understand why the Motor City has a depressed housing market. Ugh!

    I keep telling myself that the refi is like having a root canal. It hurts like hell, but it's good for me. Anyway, I know exactly what you've been through and I know what a huge pain in the patootie it is! Congrats on getting it over with. Now go drink way too much champagne or the alcoholic drink of your choice. You deserve it!

  4. Wow Melanie! I am happy that all that is finally done and over with for you - on many levels!!! Thanks for sharing your story - sounds like you had to get it out there too - I know I would! Dave and I were just talking the other day about us starting to refinance, and have not gotten anywhere with the banks returning calls so far. Crazy!