Monday, August 17, 2020

Wells Fargo Ghosted My Refi Application & Wastes My Time Again!

 As they say, "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me!"  I feel like a dang fool right about now.  You see, I trusted Wells Fargo Bank and their Home Mortgage Loans division to do the right thing, i.e., to make things right for me.  It seems expecting follow through from WF employees was too much to ask for.  Before I get into the latest mess that has been my rental property refinance process, let me provide you with a link to the first part of this unfortunate saga.

A day after I wrote, Wells Fargo Kills My Rental Prop Refi..., I received emails from both a WFHM Processing Manager AND Branch Manager, apologizing for "any lack of communication" on their side.  The Branch Manager, Ryan, would actually call me and explain to me that my Mortgage Consultant, Will, had gotten some things mixed up and that my loan would indeed be approved, with a guaranteed 4.75% interest rate.  Remember, rental properties command higher interest rates because they are riskier.  This occurred in mid-May.

My Mortgage Consultant, Will, also called me in mid-May and apologized to me for the mistakes he made.  He reiterated the offer of 4.75% interest rate on a 30-year rate and term loan for my rental property and stated I wouldn't have to come to closing with any money.  By this time my rental property had appraised at $170K, exactly where we needed it.  Essentially, I was back in the game, so to speak.  Things, I thought, would start moving forward once again and I could finally put this experience past me.  I was wrong.

In early June, Will sent me a text message.  He wanted to know if I had a Title company out in Memphis, TN (where my property is located) I wanted to work with.  This made me feel like we were heading in the right direction.  Will sent an email out to Stewart Title.

On June 8th, I sent Ryan and Kelly an email seeking an update on a potential close date.  Kelly replied on June 11th:

Hi Carlos ~  your file is being reviewed by the processor next after she is finished with the file she is currently working on.   You will be hearing form us today.  J

Thank you for allowing us another chance to get this done for you.  J

But I never heard back from the "Processor."  On June 15th, I was sent new Loan Disclosure Docs by WFHM.  The new Docs showed the rate at 4.75% as I had been guaranteed, but it also showed that I had to bring $800 "cash to close."  I mean, it's not a lot of money, but the point was they had assured me I'd not be paying any money to close.  So I texted Will.  Will reassured me.  He texted me back, stating "these numbers get adjusted prior to closing," and "we'll make sure you're bringing in a limited amount at close."  Okay, I thought.

On June 18th, Will texted me again, stating a title rep had finally been assigned.  But something soon changed.  It was as if I were a brand new applicant.  Will asked me for more documents, communicating as the in-between with Underwriting.  Why did my Mortgage Consultant have to do this?  I've done many refinance applications with reputable lenders and they always assign someone other than the consultant to reach out for docs.  Well...I did have someone before.  Her name is Leticia.  Apparently, the Branch decided to excuse Leticia from having to work with me after I wrote about her lack of customer service.  But they failed to assign anyone else!

Here is a list of everything I had to produce between June 18th and Monday, August 10th for Will and the mysterious WF Underwriters:

1) A statement from my Roth IRA company showing I transferred funds to Wells Fargo Roth IRA.  (This was a basic custodian to custodian transfer and WF wanted to know where the money came from).

2) All of my mortgage statements once again.  I had to once again log-on, download, and upload every single mortgage statement for my five current properties.

3) A copy of the Loan Proposal from a separate Refinance application I was doing with Cherry Creek Mortgage on my personal residence.  Wells Fargo's underwriters wanted to make sure I was doing a "rate and term" refi only, i.e., not getting any cash back on the refi of my personal residence.

4)  An explanation as to why Cherry Creek Mortgage ran a credit check/report.  Obviously they ran a credit check prior to my closing date with them so as to make sure I had not taken out any new credit!  But WF wanted an explanation nonetheless.

5) A "signed" Settlement Statement from the Title/Escrow company that handled my closing with Cherry Creek Mortgage.  I'd sent Will my copy, scanned, but the WF underwriters wanted it signed by the Radiant Title/escrow agent.  This meant more leg work for me, of course.

On August 3rd, I emailed Ryan and Kelly, and asked them if my application had been shelved.  No answer.

Will was the only one to respond:

"Hi Carlos, nothing is shelved we just got another request from the underwriter for more things.  I can't believe it.  Did your other refi close already?"

This text message conversation is what led to request for docs number 5 from above.

Even WF legal is Unresponsive!

I had a letter sent to me recapping my initial experience with WF Home Mortgage.  I decided to call the number and talk to the letter's author, a lady named, Sara.  When I looked her up on LinkedIn, turns out she's part of their legal department.  Well...I left an angry complaint on her line, asking her to address my matter.  She never contacted me back.  It was as if my call never happened.

I called their Home Mortgage Customer Service Department and was received by a lady named, Jennifer, an Executive Office Case Specialist.  She was so receptive!  I thought I had the wrong number at first.  Jennifer said she would make a thorough inquiry.  This was on August 4th.  I followed up with Jennifer on August 13th.  She stated:

Sorry for the delayed response. I just got access to my computer. I see we are pending underwriting currently. My investigation is still open, and I have no conclusion just yet. I am working diligently to get this taken care of. I apologize.

Would I Be Treated Differently If I Were White Or Does WF Just Suck?   

I'm not so sure I would've been treated differently if I were white.  Unfortunately, because Wells Fargo has held my application in limbo (underwriting) since mid-May, these are they types of negative thoughts that enter one's head.  Mind you, I started my application in early March!  I am going on 5.5 months of this process.  Is this not excessive?  Even with Covid-19, I know plenty of people who have been in and out with a refi process in less than 2 months!  With other banks, of course.  Not shady, Wells Fargo!

Meanwhile, I haven't been able to apply for new credit.  Why?  Because if you apply for new credit during a home loan application, your debt-to-income ratio can change.  This is cause for the bank dismissing your application.  I'm sure you've heard Realtors tell you, don't buy anything on your credit card right before Closing.  

Just look at all of these angry consumers who have had the misfortune of working with WF Home Mortgage: Consumer Affairs, 1-Star, 235 Ratings.  

While I'm At It

The current CEO of WF is Charles W. Scharf.  He's been at the helm since October 21, 2019.  He's definitely inherited a mess.  His predecessors led WF into the 2016 account fraud that cost the company billions...hence shady!  If WF is to become the reputable bank it used to be (I've been a multi-account client since the late 90s), Mr. Scharf is going to have to make deep, and I mean deep, changes to the company's culture, obviously in the area of customer service.

Wells Fargo Stock is vastly under-performing its peers:

Reviewing My Investment In Wells Fargo Over The Last 4 Years Shows ...  

Credit for chart: Stefan Redlich at

I Just Want Closure

I'm seriously tired of dealing with WF.  If it wasn't painstaking, I'd be looking to close out all of my accounts with them.  I want what was promised to me both verbally and in writing.  And I think I have been patient enough.  As we Latinos say, Ya Basta!  Enough is enough, WF.  I want a Close date, and docs ready for a notary now!  Before I go, I want to thank Will for being my advocate and for seemingly being the only one at WF that cares about my application.

How about you amigos?  Have you had a negative experience with WF Home Mortgage?  Comment below.  Thanks for reading!  Until next time.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Didn't Check My Home Owner's Policy, Then My Water Heater Leaked

My wife, Jessica, always tells me that the universe is listening so I should refrain from speaking negative things out-loud.  Mexicans can be very superstitious, and despite my having a B.S. degree in bio sciences, I'm compelled by some cultural force to mind her exhortation.  I blame my parents.  Growing up, for example, every time I dropped a utensil on the floor during a meal, my mom would say, "Ahí viene la visita," or here come (unwanted) visitors.  Once my parents got in a bad car accident.  It was somewhat traumatic for them, and for my older sister and I who had to see them all bruised up.  Before they could get back in a car (drive again), they had to get cured of their susto, or scare, by a medicine woman in East San Jose where we lived.  She used all sorts of oils, fragrances, and incense smoke on them while uttering a Mexican Native American language.  I guess it worked because my parents were driving another used car soon after that.

All to say that in January, I spoke some negative words out-loud in a convo with Jessica: "Watch, the water heater will break this year."  Well, the water heater was on year 15 of its own existence so I can't really call myself prophetic.  On August 2nd, while putting her bike away in the garage, Jessica noticed a huge puddle on the water heater platform and directly below it on the ground.  The walls were wet as well near the floor.  Check it:


Not gonna lie...a little bit of panic ensued.  I started imagining dollar bills flying out the window.  This was my first water heater issue as a homeowner (I bought my home brand new so the water heater was as old as the house).  It was a Sunday afternoon.  I called a local plumbing company here in Oceanside, but they couldn't come out.  The company's owner, however, did provide me with help over the phone: Shut off the valve at the top of the water heater by lifting the handle.  This would stop water flowing into the water heater, and thus stop the leaking.  He also called another company he works with to come inspect the drywall damage in the garage and in the adjacent interior rooms.  Long story short, water was still flowing into the water heater from the valve, and the water was still leaking onto the drywall damaging it even more.  

My neighbor came by and gave me a hand.  He and I drained the water heater using a water hose, but water kept pouring out of the hose even after the water heater should've been emptied.  My neighbor has many skilled laborer connections, and his daughter's boyfriend is to my luck, a plumber.  So, that Sunday evening, a plumber worked on fixing the leak in the valve.  I'd made contact with Allstate that same day and began a claim.

The licensed Drywall company charged me $1,200 to remove wet drywall, and insulation, plus dry.  Ouch!

Before Calling Any Professional Service

Now let me tell you what I should've done before contacting any professional service for help.  I should've checked my home owner's policy!  Had I done this first, I would've read that my deductible was a whopping $5,000!  Apparently, I'd not changed it since buying the house brand spankin' new.  My premium has changed naturally, as all things go up with inflation, including coverage costs.  From 2005 to 2020, my premiums went from about $1150/year to $1450.  Seeing I had some warranties at the start of my ownership, I probably got over-confident about any disaster happening, and had not thought to increase my premium and reduce my deductible in the process.

By the way...aren't home owner policies a total racket?  I mean we pay thousands of dollars to an insurance company, and hope that some day we have a major disaster at our homes so we can actually make a claim and get some of that back!  

Okay, so I had to drop my claim with Allstate because no way was I going to shell out $5K to get a $3K check from them for the damages incurred.  Not to mention, filing insurance claims almost always leads to premium increases.  Save your claims for the big one, a kitchen fire, for example.

After learning of my $5,000 deductible from a dusty Allstate policy renewal doc, I called my local agent and asked her to raise my premium whatever amount was necessary so that my new deductible is $2,500.  It turned out to be less than I thought.  Like $11 more per month, i.e., an extra $132 a year.  Some people pay a maximum premium such that their deductible is only $1,000.  There is a trade-off, of course.  I'm comfortable stroking $2,500 for any damage beyond $5,000.  It's gotta be worth it, right?

Get Cheap, But Reliable Labor If You Are Strapped for Cash & Don't Want to File A Claim

Here is what I spent on this completely random and totally NOT self-fulfilled event.

$1,200 for the removal of wet drywall and insulation, plus fans and a dehumidifier left over a couple of days.  They wanted to charge me an additional $700 to repair the drywall.  No thanks!

$480, What my neighbor's contact, Mauricio, charged me to repair the drywall completely.  Saved $220.

$1,150, What my neighbor's daughter's boyfriend charged me to fix the leak, remove the water heater, set a new water heater on the side temporarily, and to put it back on the platform once drywall repair was complete.  I saved $300 because the plumbing company quoted me $1450.

Total: $2,830.

Mauricio did a great job!  Only I had run out of paint and had to match it at Lowe's.

Use your contacts before going with a contractor.  If you happen to have Latinx friends, they may know of solid workers who can handle almost every type of home repair/improvement need.  Yes, you can go with a full-fledged company that employs crews and office workers, etc., just expect to pay more.  If your insurance covers it, and your deductible is reasonable, then by all means, spend, spend, spend!  Remember, you can also claim loss of personal items under most HO policies.

Review Your HO Policy Every Year!

Don't be a dope like me.  Every year you should speak with your HO policy representative/agent to have an evaluation done.  They will make sure you're not under-insured as a result of substantial market appreciation, or if your deductible needs adjusting.  Thanks to my resources, I was able to mitigate the damage to my wallet on this one.  But I realize some people aren't as connected around the community as I am.  So, your best bet as a homeowner is to add these policy reviews and potential loss assessments into your calendar.  Don't be caught by surprise like I was!  Thanks for reading.