Tuesday, November 22, 2011

expert advice: money money money

björn has been urging me to share our experience/misadventure in securing the financing for this little project, although i have been a little hesitant to get on my soap box i guess it is part of our experience, good or bad.  the word that comes to mind when i think about the financing is nightmare.

we started the process of securing a home loan in early august of this year.  the plan was for björn's mother, who owns the property, to get a mortgage on the little red house that she lives in currently.  this home has been in her family and unencumbered for years, so we thought "oh this will be easy."  we only needed about 50% of the home value which should not have been a problem.

the little red house- needs some work but thats another post

we filled out an application from Wells Fargo, first mistake, however, we thought it would be the easiest approach due to the fact that björn's mother does all of her banking with Wells.  after filling out the application we heard NOTHING, we called, left messages, waited, maybe heard back from the losers at the Durango branch of WF, maybe not.  this continued on for weeks, we had to coax information out of our assigned loan officer, we basically scheduled our own appraisal after in numerous calls to figure out what was needed to finished the application.

we had been hoping to close our loan and secure the money by the middle of october. hah- Wells Fargo assured us that our application would be made a priority but that they had no way of telling us a closing date, they "can't really communicate with the underwriters."  after the 15th of October had come and gone and we hadn't heard a peep from that lame-o, our loan officer, björn started to get angry- we felt trapped, certainly our loan would be approved- they kept telling us everything looked fine- but why was it taking so long?  and we couldn't possibly start another application at another bank this late in the game, that would delay us further.

the straw that broke the camels back was when we received a letter in the mail from Wells which requested we take a survey on our loan experience!!!- "we don't even have it yet you jerks!!!"  björn called in the big guns and ended up calling the office of the president of Wells Fargo.  a representative who compared himself to the man guarding the wizard of oz, was able to track down our loan- apparently it had been swirling around the under writers offices with some outstanding information still needed from us.  what really ticked us off was not that it had gotten lost in the shuffle but that our loan officer had not communicated with us, if he needed info from us we were happy to give it to him.

"nobody can see the wizard, not nobody, not no- how"

it was now october 31st and we still had no loan nor did we have a closing date.  we faxed all the additional info to the underwriters that they needed and then we went to a different bank - a local bank!  although i would have loved to go down to the durango branch of Wells Fargo and punch our loan officer mr. loser in the nose, but no we went to a local bank, just to chat.

björn, his mother and i sat down with the bank of the san juans- a local southwest colorado bank at 10:00 am on halloween.  by 10:30 our representative there, tom, had set us up with all of the information we needed on securing a home equity line of credit for the amount we requested.  all we had to do was to fill out the application, they would use our previous home appraisal, and they could discuss the application in the weekly meeting and probably have the loan approved in as little a 5 days!  FIVE DAYS- it had been three months at Wells Fargo and we still didn't have a closing date- what was wrong with this picture.

i could go on about the injustices of a huge giant bank like Wells Fargo used tax-payer bailout money to do some not so awesome things, or the fact that they are making millions of dollars on home mortgages for doing paperwork- because in reality that is all it is- an i.o.u- nothing is real money anymore.  this isn't Its A Wonderful Life anymore, and neither is Bank of the San Juan but its closer-

Jimmy Stewart explaining just how savings and loans work-
 via The Great Mortgage Revolt

to wrap up this story- we continued to pursue the Wells Fargo loan- just in case, but in the end Bank of the San Juans won out- they were able to get us approved in a little over a week and have the money in hand- it felt good to tell Wells Fargo to go....well you know.  i am also looking forward to filling out their little customer satisfaction survey.

what did we learn?  i think björn and i both agree that if we could do it all over we would have gone to a small bank first or better yet a credit union, Durango is fortunate enough that it is still a small town and that it has a few small town banks left.  just think, the money this bank is making off of us is staying in durango, to help people who live in durango- what a concept.  our advice to you is to try your hardest to support your own local banks.  credit unions are even better be because they are owned by you and they are not for profit corporations, not only will you get much better service than you will at one of these giants (BofA, Wells, CapitalOne, etc) but you may just be helping out your neighbors too.

we have the money- FINALLY! we can pay back all of our credit cards and replenish our personal bank accounts, and not worry about how we are going to pay for materials labors and we are feeling like it IS A Wonderful Life!

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