Fannie, Freddie and FHA Finally Increase Homeowners' Ability to Modify Mortgages
Are the Investors Innocent Parties? Nope!
At Freddie Mac, we value our customers and
recognize that our success depends on their success.
Fulfilling our mission requires us to focus on our
customers and be responsive to their needs.
Page 9, Freddie Mac Code of Conduct for Employees
As the unbelieveably unethical and probably fraudulent behavior of mortgage loan servicers regarding foreclosures and loan modifications has been brought to light, there has been some media coverage suggesting the actual loan owners were squeaky clean, nay even unwilling victims of their own subcontractors. Based on my experience, I believe that's just spin. The "investors" are every bit as involved in the obfuscation as their servicers, allowing borrowers to be lied to, strung along and generally taken advantage of. I know they condone the servicer's nonsense; I believe the lies, miscommunication and general disregard for professional, ethical dealings is a top-down process.
The investor in my case is the government-favored agency commonly known as Freddie Mac. (Look it up and you'll see its real name is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), but that name doesn't even show up on the agency's official website. Odd.
Now, in addition to owning or guaranteeing a large percentage of the nation's mortgages, Freddie Mac also has another role to play in the current foreclosure crisis. In addition to getting a $63 billion bailout from TARP funds, Freddie Mac got a job - enforcing the HAMP guidelines. Freddie Mac Enforcement of HAMP Violations
Except, as far as I can tell, Freddie Mac has no interest in doing that job.
Here's a summary of my experience so you can see what I mean:
||First Contact - Fail!
"Your lender is your biggest ally if you are struggling with your mortgage payments and the sooner you contact them, the more likely they can help." (source)
Right. Unless, of course, they completely blow you off. Like Freddie Mac has done to me three times now!
I found out Freddie Mac was the "owner" of my loan about four months after I initiated a mortgage modification request with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. And I only found out because a WFHM employee who had assigned herself as the point person in the review of my loan called to tell me she could no longer work with me because her department only handled "Wells-owned" mortgage loan mitigations. Huh? As far as I knew, I had secured my mortgage refinance from Wells Fargo and that was where I had sent my payments for four years. Apparently WFHM had sold the loan to Freddie Mac at some point. (Of course, given the MERS debacle and general paperwork snafu involved in mortgage loan securitization, who knows whether this is really true ...) You can find out whether Freddie Mac allegedly owns your loan using this quick and easy lookup tool.
After two more months of being strung along by Wells Fargo, I came across contact information for Freddie Mac's Borrower Outreach department and emailed a detailed complaint regarding the protracted "review" process being dragged on by WFHM. I also asked several detailed questions. I got a quick response verifying my contact information and telling me "we are escalating your file to a special unit at Freddie Mac who will research your case.
Please stay tuned ..."
Well, I'm still tuned and I have yet to get any information despite numerous emails.
I also phoned Borrower Outreach, but always got a voicemail message asking me to leave a message. The number seemed never to be answered by a human and messages were not returned. Perhaps "Borrower Ignore" would be a better name for the department.
Second Contact - Fail!
"If you are having trouble reaching your lender, be patient and diligent. Lenders are working hard to get to every call and sometimes it may take longer than you expect." (source)
I initiated contact with Freddie Mac Borrower Outreach again in January 2011 to ask a question regarding profit-and-loss statements provided as proof of income for self-employed borrowers in the mortgage modification review process. Amazingly, I actually got an answer.
So I asked another question, one that should have been much simpler. I asked for the name and mailing address of the person at Freddie Mac in charge of HAMP compliance. Apparently that was a much tougher question because the response I got was "We will escalate this case to a higher department here at Freddie Mac to research." Huh? What's to research? I asked that, as you can see in the transcript of this exchange.
Still patiently waiting for an answer to that question and for the name and address. I was able to find the name, Jerry Weiss, on the web and just randomly picked one of the many Freddie Mac addresses, hoping my letter and detailed complaint about WFHM's servicing irregularities would reach him. Suppose that is diligent enough for them?
As you'll see below, my letter did find its way to someone ... for all the good it did me.
||Third Contact - Fail!
"We tried to contact you but were unable to." Gee, that sounds just like some of the nonsense from Wells Fargo, always with the implication that it is somehow the borrower's fault that these adult professional people can't manage to phone, email or write a letter.
On February 7, 2011, I sent a mailing to Freddie Mac, including a letter addressed to Jerry Weiss, Chief Compliance Officer, regarding a number of instances when I believed Wells Fargo Home Mortgage’s failure to comply with Freddie Mac’s published Single Family Seller/Servicer Guidelines acted to prolong and complicate the review of my mortgage loan for modification.
I was contacted by Freddie Mac via email on February 15, 2011. Amazingly quick, wasn't it? But the communication didn’t come to the email account I had most recently been using in correspondence – the failed attempt to secure a name and address for that same mailing. Something just bothers me about that. But not as much as having this person say that he tried to call and supposedly got a disconnect message. Maybe it’s because my letter didn’t include a phone number. Nor did my most recent email correspondence. Took me a while to recall that back in September 2010 when I first tried to get some information out of Freddie Mac, I was asked for a phone number. I double-checked my emails and found that I had provided the correct number. I don't think they ever called. I know the phone has not been out of order, so unless someone misdialed three times, something's strange here.
In addition, why is it that they persist in wanting to discuss my very detailed issues in a phone conversation? I expected if I did get any response, it would be a detailed written one. But maybe they don't want to put anything in writing?
I replied to the Freddie Mac email the same day, but got no response for several days. I re-sent the reply just in case it had gone astray. No reply. Just like the previous two times I tried to get information - initial contact followed up by silence.
I sent the response email a total of five times, then sent two more requests for status updates before I finally got a response on March 23, 2011. Five weeks. And then they say they didn’t get my February 15, 2011, response and completely ignore that I sent seven requests before I got a reply.
And, again about the phone being out of order. This time with dates, days when I have records that I received calls from and made calls to Wells Fargo. The allegation about getting disconnect messages is blatantly untrue, but why lie? It’s not like this is the first time I have contacted Freddie Mac and been blown off. This sends off little alarm bells in my untrusting mind, but I can’t for the life of me think what the point of this odd back-and-forth conversation is.
Trying to figure that out, I made an appointment for a phone conversation with Freddie Mac, providing a date and two-hour window of time. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that 1)nobody from Freddie Mac called me and 2)I have not since heard from anyone at Freddie Mac via any mode of communication.
Well, so much for the alliance between borrowers and investors in the foreclosure fiasco. It sounds good - the loan servicers are cheating both the people who have the loans and the investors who backed them by pushing for expensive foreclosures and dumping a whole bunch of houses on an already sluggish market instead of doing loan modifications and other workouts and keeping people in their homes.