Part 2: What Now?
Now that you’ve assembled everything, and when I say everything, I’m talking a couple hundred pages everything, you are ready to fax the paperwork in. You’ve numbered the pages and created your table of contents. So where do you send it? Every lender has some link on their website for Homeowner Help. That’s where you’ll find their forms including the HAMP forms the Federal Government requires of you and the lender. There will also be a phone number and you’re ready to make the call.
Making the call. When you contact your lender for the first time, let them go through their spiel. They will ask for your loan number; address; do you still reside on the property; the last 4 of your social, do you want to keep the property or sell. They will tell you they are a debt collector and anything you say will be used in an attempt to collect a debt and that this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes. They will go through this every single time you call. I suggest keeping these numbers written on a card you keep in your purse or wallet so that if they call and you’re driving or somewhere away from you file, you have the vitals. You also want to have a pad of paper, to take notes; names dates phone numbers or extensions. Your file notes don’t need to be neat, just complete. Also, remember if they call you it’s always a good thing because that means someone is working on your file. But since they are usually on east coast or central time, the call could come in early – especially if you live on the west coast. I have received calls at 6:30 a.m. before. You do not want to miss the call. Getting back to that initial call… at some point they’ll tell you where to find the forms and that you need to fill them out and finally where to fax them. They will not tell you any of the tips I’ve listed in Part 1: Getting Started. At this point you can say that you’ve put that together and are ready to fax in the paperwork.
You attract more flies with honey. When you are speaking with the bank’s representative there are several things to bear in mind. First, they really do care about you getting a loan mod, to a point… Don’t interrupt them, or get testy and terse even if you’re frustrated at having to verify you are you over and over; or if you’re asked to repeat your story to someone new. Try to never put them on hold and always, always let them know it’s OK to take their time, there’s no rush; if you’re tight on time, don’t make the call, do it later or tomorrow. They are going to really appreciate this and your calm demeanor. You’ve got to figure they are working on hundreds of cases. In general, the process is so frustrating and tedious that the borrower or their representative will at some point “lose it” and rip into the person on the other end of the phone – how would you like that every day? Be the one that is thankful and appreciative, ask about the weather, how they’re doing, are they a Cowboys fan if they’re in Texas, or joke with them that you’ve had 4 days of 70 degree weather or it took you 3 hours to shovel the snow off your driveway. “Kill them with kindness”, my mentor Mark Bader used to tell me. Be sure and ask their name and use it! People like to hear their own name and it makes you less an adversary as an ally or friend and in your file keep a log of every conversation. If you miss something they said, it’s OK to ask them to repeat that, or for you to restate it to make sure you got it right. Your log has to have the date and the name of the person or persons you spoke with. Ask them for a direct number to them or their extension. They may not provide it if they are just answering the call in a rotation. You can also ask for an email address but you are unlikely to get one since the bank doesn’t want anything in writing that could be used against them later.
Faxing the documents. Now that you’ve been through the authorization process and have the number you are ready to fax the mother lode of papers you’ve accumulated – even if they haven’t asked for them yet – because they will. It’s critical that you try to stay a step ahead of the process. But here’s the key point to this approach: everyone likes the easy gig; the low hanging fruit; the one they can get off their desk as quickly as possible. By giving them everything up front you are moving your file ahead of everyone else’s.
The follow up call. Your first follow up call will usually be a few days after you’ve faxed the papers. It is very possible that they haven’t processed your papers yet but you’ll call to make sure they received them. If there is someone to go over them with, do so. Ask if they have everything they need. This is where your table of contents comes in handy. They have almost certainly not looked at all 200 or so pages yet. So they will rattle off some documents that most people miss or weren’t obvious to them in their 2 minute look over. Find what they claim is the “missing document” in your table of contents and then refer them to the appropriate page number. It’s amazing how impressed they will be and how quickly they will want to push your file through to the next level. If you are lucky, you’ll get escalated right away – but don’t count on it. Finally ask them when you should call back, if they have an extension or direct line or if they know who your next point of contact will be and ask if they know who the investor is. More often than not, you think the bank you’re dealing with is the investor when in fact they are the servicer and the investor may be an entirely different lending institution. B of A could be servicing a loan for US Bank and their rules may be different from B of A’s. And don’t kid yourself, the more players the more difficult.
Super human patience is the key here. You have to anticipate that this process could take a year or more. You have to expect they will ask you for items you’ve already sent and be ready to repeat yourself. You must be prepared that they will misinform you, contradict themselves and make mistakes. But you have to keep your cool. This is the process and you can’t change it.
Next Part 3: Keeping the Pressure On