||[Apr. 16th, 2008|02:11 pm]
K... we all know about the subprime mess. Those of us with a clue realize that the media is too freaking stupid and inept to actually recognize what bad lending practices are.|
So I have a friend here at work. He knows how to work the system. He bought a house in Baltimore a coupla years ago, fixed it up, and is gonna sell it this summer and move to Canada.
Asa first time homeowner, he got oodles of city, state and federal support. He also went ARM via countrywide. As he put it, the rate was almost worth the damage to the sanity he suffered...
Countrywide is filth. You can do business with them... but make sure you know what the hell you are doing first. Cuz if you let them handle things, they will nickle and dime you to death. My friend claims they tried to sabotage the closing because he went with his own title company. He has bitched before about a coupla suprise fees and insurance requirements they sprang on him when it was too late for him to do anything about it...
But the last straw came last week...
Baltimore has a weird rent custom thing... dating from the 50's. Called ground rent. It's in wiki, look it up if yuir curious about these things... but all it means is that a lotta Baltimore home owners pay about $5 a month to someone that actually owns the land their houses are built on. The rate was set in the 50's... it cannot by law go up. The owner at any time can make a lump sum payment, and get full rights to the property... itsa silly thing. However, if you dont pay that $5 a month... they can foreclose.
What does this mean for countrywide? They like to take responsibility for paying the fee... and then pass the cost, plus a sizable handling fee onto their customers...
So my friend got a letter from countrywide asking him for information about the ground rent situation...
Here is his response...
Today is your lucky day! You are lucky because I bothered to read the recent correspondence your office sent me regarding my account # ***. You see, virtually all letters I receive from your dear company are invitations to call regarding refinancing options for my mortgage. It seems that in light of the recent fiasco regarding adjustable-rate mortgage products, your ever-responsible firm wishes to ensure I do not suffer the fate of so many other customers when my interest rate resets.
Lost upon Countrywide is the fact that my adjustable-rate mortgage will not reset until 2011. I’m sure you simply overlooked this small, albeit important, detail. While I’m certain altruism has been guiding your attempts to encourage my refinancing, I accept that your company has been totally screwed by the mortgage product that sees me paying 4% p.a. for seven years – a rate that in retrospect is ludicrously low. I must admit a bit of confusion, though, since given the media reports regarding the state of your interest-only loan portfolio, I’d think you’d be happy to have a customer who is neither upside-down nor in default. However, I digress.
The subject of your letter was ground rent. You stated that you were unable to determine the collector of ground lease rent on this account. Please allow me to remind you of the closing of my refinancing some three and a half years ago. At that time, my title company, having had quite the time attempting to get the correct loan documents from the mortgage broker, was in possession of all the information needed regarding the owner of the ground rent underlying my humble abode. You refused this information, and I was informed that ground rent would neither be escrowed nor paid by the mortgage servicing firm.
Being a responsible homeowner, I have dutifully paid the ground rent as each bill has come. Considering the pitifully small amount of my ground rent, I imagined you concluded it was simply not worth your time to deal with such an insignificant cost. And let’s face it: most people outside the State of Maryland simply have no concept of what residential ground rent even is. I am therefore confused by your belated attempt to acquire the information regarding my ground rent, and your form-letter correspondence tells me no attempt was made to understand the circumstances that led to this omission.
In fact, considering your track record with the Baltimore City Department of Finance, I’m not inclined to trust your ability to escrow and remit my ground rent to the sweet couple in northwest Baltimore who own it. As you may notice, you have yet to successfully receive a property tax bill from the City and pay it without my intervention. Since I have been most efficiently taking care of the ground rent myself, I see no need to change this arrangement.
It may interest you to know that the State of Maryland has an excellent website that contains all property deeds and transfers recorded since the late 1800s. You can search and view any such record, both for real property ownership information and for ground rent ownership. If you are unable to determine the collector of ground lease rent on my account, I must conclude that you have simply not bothered looking very hard. I wish you much success in this endeavor. Happy hunting!