Restoration Comedy: Mods and Rockers

By Jane Powell
Monday September 20, 2010 - 03:27:00 PM

Reporter: “Are you a mod or a rocker?”

Ringo Starr: “No, I’m a mocker.”

Since last October I’ve been engaged in trying to get a HAMP modification for my mortgage. I was rejected outright once, began the reapplication process in May (because you have to start all over once you’re rejected), flew to Washington DC in mid-July to attend an event sponsored by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, where I was told I would have a reply from Fannie Mae in a week. You may have noticed it is now September. The GMAC representative will not return my calls or e-mails. 

I finally called Fannie Mae. The first time I called, on August 17th, all customer service reps were busy, so I left a message. No one called back. I called again on August 30, and was told they couldn’t find my file, and someone would check into that and call me back. No one did. 

I called again on September 7th, was told that the file had been “escalated” by the portfolio manager, but that they required more bank statements because the rental income on the bank statements didn’t match up with the rental agreements for my tenants, and that I would have to deal with the servicer from now on. The woman actually said, “Don’t call us.” 

My immediate thought was, “I’m a freaking taxpayer- we own you, and I will call you if a damn well feel like it!” That same week I received another letter from GMAC, the exact same form letter I received at the end of July, requesting letters from all my tenants detailing how much their rent was and how often they paid it. Which I had faxed to GMAC already. Those of you who have been following this story will not be surprised by this. 

So I called GMAC and explained that I had already sent the requested information at the end of July. As it turns out, that was not the actual information they wanted. No, they wanted to know why the rental amounts didn’t match up perfectly with the bank statements. Oh, let’s see- BECAUSE THERE WAS ANOTHER F*CKING CHECK INCLUDED IN THE SAME DEPOSIT? BECAUSE THE NEW TENANT IS PAYING HIS DEPOSIT IN INSTALLMENTS AND IS THEREFORE PAYING MORE THAN THE LISTED RENT? Was this verbal explanation enough to satisfy them? You know the answer. They want me to write a letter of explanation detailing why for each deposit that doesn’t match up. I asked once again, as I always do, if this was absolutely, positively, the only other thing they needed. As usual, they said yes, and as usual, as soon as I send the letter of explanation they will think of something else they require. 

Meanwhile, I sent my story to David Dayen, who has been writing about the HAMP debacle at FireDogLake. It was a nice write-up, and most of the commenters were supportive, except one who suggested I made a bad investment and bad decisions and should just do a short sale and get on with it. So blaming the victim continues. 

The whole thing is a mockery. The Treasury Department recently admitted that they view HAMP as a success because it kept a glut of foreclosures from coming on the market all at once, and that’s all that mattered. I imagine, in some of my more down moments, employees at various servicers sitting around the break room amusing each other by reading homeowners’ Hardship Affidavits out loud and mocking them. 

But I’m good at banging my head on the wall, so I duly wrote a letter explaining every rental deposit going back to last January, and faxed that off along with the latest bank statement. I called the next day to see if they got it. Somewhat surprisingly, they had. I was told (again) that they had all they needed and I would have an answer in thirty days. I asked if that meant they were sending it to Fannie Mae- but didn’t really get a straight answer. 

So I called the rep again. I was stunned when she picked up the phone. I asked if she had received the fax, since I have taken to faxing everything to every fax number I have. I told her the Loss Mitigation people had said it would take thirty days, and she said she would put in a call to the manager and see if the file could be expedited. I expect “expedited” will mean it will only take 29 days. 

So it has been almost an entire year and I still haven’t been offered even a TEMPORARY modification. I suppose all these hoops make sense from the bank’s point of view, but for myself, through this whole process I have resented being treated like I’m some kind of deadbeat because I am asking for help. I have paid every goddamn mortgage payment on time, I have given them every ridiculous thing they asked for, and I can’t even get a freaking temporary modification? I think it’s time to lawyer up. 

Jane Powell writes for the Planet whenever she feels like it. Some day she may actually go back to writing about houses, in the meantime, you can contact her at