I've been working with a family member to help them avoid a foreclosure on their home. This person has owned their home since 2000, and had never been late with a mortgage payment until after the market collapse ended up forcing his employer out of business. Since the borrower works in construction, and cannot take calls during business hours, I offered to help by being their authorized contact person to discuss their loan with Wells Fargo.
I've been communicating with Wells for months now, but on March 7, 2012 they issued an "acceleration letter" and are now threatening to foreclose. That letter expired on April 9th, making a foreclosure filing probable at any time, while the borrower and I pursue all possible options with Wells Fargo.
Two weeks ago, I helped the borrower prepare a Wells Fargo package of forms called a "Workout Consideration" request. This package includes several specific forms, required by Wells Fargo, including a hardship letter and updated income and expense statement among others. These forms have to be specific Wells Fargo forms, which are supposed to be downloadable from the Wells Fargo website. But once you are in default, you can no longer download the forms, you must request that they be sent to you by mail. That took about 10 days. In the mean time, Wells Fargo continued to call every day, to warn that the loan could be accelerated and sent for foreclosure at any time. Every time they call I dutifully answer their litany of routine questions...
WF - "Would you like to pay the entire balance due of $2016.39 today? We can accept a payment by phone, for a convenience fee of just $20. And you know, if this account is not brought current immediately, Wells Fargo may take action to file a foreclosure.
Me:"Well I wish, but the borrower is not earning enough income at present to be able to make a single payment of $2016.39."
WF - What is the reason for the delinquency?
Me: (for the 5th time this week)...the borrower is underemployed as he is in construction and the recession has caused his income to drop by about 66%."
WF: (politely) Well I can certainly understand that.
Me: This is why we requested a Workout Consideration package, we're trying to seek help from Wells Fargo so that the borrower can get a repayment plan to help make up the back payments. He is not making enough to pay 3 mortgage payments in one month."
WF: (politely) Well I can certainly understand that.
Me: Can you please tell me whether you received the Workout Consideration package? It took 10 days to receive the forms in the mail. We returned it by priority mail on April the 9th, and today is April the 19th. We've not heard from anyone, and our Home Preservation Specialist, Ana, is not returning our phone calls. I priority mailed this package to the office in Eagan, Minnesota, as instructed, and we also faxed a copy directly to the Home Preservation Specialist on April 9th.
WF: May I put you on hold while I check on this?
Me: Yes, please do.
WF: Yes it appears that we received the documents yesterday, April 18th.
Me: Can you tell me if they have been processed or if the loan is in review?
WF: May I place you on hold while I check on this?
Me: Yes, please do.
WF: It appears that the loan is not in review. I'll need to transfer you to your Home Preservation Specialist, Ana, as it is her job to review that package and determine whether a workout option is possible. May I put you on hold while I transfer you to Ana?
Me: Yes, please do. But before you do, let me tell you that I've been transferred to her 4 times and have left her 4 messages this week already, and I've not received a call back, even though her voice mail says that she returns calls within 48 hours."
WF: Well you've got to speak directly to her, so let me transfer you to her extension. Do you mind holding while I transfer you?
Me: no, please go ahead.
WF: (Ana's voicemail message) You have reached Ana with the Wells Fargo Home Preservation Team. Today is Wednesday...(it was actually Thursday)...and I'll be in the office until 1 PM central standard time. Please leave a message with your loan number, name, phone and the best time to call you. I'll return your call within 48 hours...(voice mail system breaks in) We're sorry, but this voice mail box is full and is not accepting messages. Please dial *1 to check your voice mail, *2 to edit your voice message, *3 for this, *4 for that, *5 for something else, and finally...*0 to return to the operator.
Me: (totally confused, pressing *0 to return to the operator)
WF: Hello this is Kelly, may I have the loan number you are calling about?
Me: Hi Kelly, I just finished giving all of this info to Lavonia, who finally transferred me to my Home Preservation Specialist Ana, who's voice mail box is full and not accepting messages."
WF - (rather short) Well you've been transferred to me now, so I have to prescreen you.
Me: you mean I have to give you all of this information again? I've just spent 25 minutes on the phone with Lavonia going over all of this...may I speak to a supervisor please?
WF - You have to give me this loan information or there is nothing I can do for you.
Me: Thanks, I think I've had enough of this for one day. (hanging up)
Obviously the pressure is on to get those forms in before any action is taken by Wells to file a foreclosure. This loan is in Georgia, a "non-judicial" foreclosure state. That means that once a foreclosure is filed, it will be only about 30 days until the foreclosure is completed, so avoiding that filing is of the utmost importance.
Waiting 10 days for forms that could have been downloaded or emailed was pretty annoying. Then another 10 days before they are even in the system, and now I can't even get through to the Home Preservation Specialist who is supposedly the only one who can actually approve the workout. Apparently Wells has no system whatsoever for following up with borrowers to let them know what their status is. If you get rejected you won't even know until you get the foreclosure notice from an attorney.
Enduring this experience over and over makes me want to scream "WTF" at the top of my lungs. Not to imply that Wells has this all to themselves. I've had similar experiences with other banks, while working with other loans and short sales. But this experience is merely symptomatic of why so many delinquent borrowers can't get anything done and end up in Foreclosure.
So tomorrow morning I'll try again. I'll get another rep on the phone who will be very polite and understanding, but totally powerless to provide any kind of meaningful assistance. After the usual routine of 20 questions, I'll be transferred back to Ana's voice mail again. I'm starting to wonder if she's quit. Maybe the stress of working 500 loans at the same time is driving her insane. I'll have to admit that handling just one is all I can take.***
Donna Robinson is a 16 year veteran of the real estate industry and a staff writer for Realty Biz News. Her website is www.RealtyBizConsulting.com You may subscribe to her free real estate newsletter.
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