Happy New Year (Not to You, Aurora Loan Services)

by Francine on December 30, 2009

Happy New Year and wish me a happy anniversary, too.  I'm celebrating the first anniversary of my effort to modify my mortgage through Aurora Loan Services. You are going to see a lot of this post in the near future, because I'm going to cross-post it everywhere until I find someone who knows someone in Aurora Loan Services or its regulator. I've never wanted to bring a company down before, but I do now. I wasn't quite angry enough until today, when I read an article in the Times that told me I was not an isolated  case, but an example of a widespread and toxic policy on the part of this particular servicer to deny homeowners programs the government has sought to extend. Failing to extend these programs helps no one except Aurora itself.

Background: It all started in 2008, when Lehmann Brothers collapsed.  Aurora is a unit of Lehmann. Right after that came the collapse of Bear Stearns, and then the disappearance of all my investments, my real estate deals, and my consulting clients.

Ooops! Those were supposed to be my retirement. No matter.  I'm not in a hurry to retire. But I didn't have any cash flow all of a sudden.

The first time I called Aurora, I thought they'd say yes to modification, because I had no income for November and December 2008
But they said no, because they said I couldn't afford the house.

Then came Obama's Making Home Affordable Program.
I applied, and Aurora said no, because I wasn't a Fannie and Freddie mortgage. Nothing in the Bay Area is a Fannie and Freddie Mortgage. We pay the big bucks here for a 1500 square foot house that would cost $150k anywhere else in the country. Here, in 2005, my house cost $769,000. I could afford it. I documented it with tax returns. I'm not stupid, and my loan is not subprime,  However, the world has changed, and with it, the value of my house.

Aurora bought my first mortgage from Princeton Capital, and probably tore it into a million little pieces. Citibank has my HELOC. You couldn't get JUST a mortgage in northern California in 2005; you had to buy a house with a mortgage and a HELOC. My 30-year old house is a starter home in my community, not a McMansion. It was where I wanted to retire, because my kids live here.

Want to know what it's worth now? Mint says $511k. But let's not talk about that. I don't want to sell it.  I want to own it. And I couldn't sell it anyway.  In my neighborhood, houses don't sell anymore unless they are foreclosed.

I waited a while, following the news, and then, because Obama had put out some new programs, I applied again. This time I spoke to someone on the phone who told me my business didn't break even so I wasn't eligible. She explained that I had to break even and could then re-apply..

I waited three more months. All this time I paid out of savings and lines of credit while the value of the house dropped. Obama came into office with the audacity of hope, and yet another a new program had me apply again.

This time they lost my information. And, oh by the way, I kept on paying. And I kept on working. In May, I broke even.

I applied again. They lost my information again. I re-sent it again.

I have a system by now for assembling stuff.  My last two years' tax returns and last two months' financial statements and bank statements, along with my hardship letter, are in a folder on my desktop. I update my age in the hardship letter. I update the statements every month of so. And I fire off the package again

Now they have an automated email system that tells me they have my materials.  They also tell me it takes 90 days to get an answer. In 90 days I get another letter in response to my inquiries that says my materials are out of date again. In July, re-submitted.  In October they told me they didn't have an snwer yet. In November I told them to hurry. They sent me another email referring me to yet another program.

I have now been through the Making Home Affordable Program, the Home Retention Program, and the Mortgage Modification Program.

For the mortgage modification program, I was told last week that I am not eligible.  Why?  Because I have $22,000 left in savings, which they say is enough tfor three months of mortgage payments. Having this much money (my mortgage is nearly $5000 a month) makes me ineligible.

But the helpful cheery voice said,  "please call us back again.  In a few months, you may qualify." When?  When I have eaten up the very last of my savings? And then they will tell me I don't qualify because I don't have any savings?

Why don't I just keep paying for thirty years? Because I have an adjustable mortgage, and when it adjusts I will not be able to refinance the loan because the house has no equity. It will be a numbers game, and I will lose the house whether I've been paying or not.

Help me out by forwarding this to anyone you know, anywhere. I want to call these people out for what they're doing. It's not the house, and it's not the money — it's the principle.  I will never be in the street. I will never starve.  But other people will, like the four homeowners from Queens in the NY Time story. They're not writers, though, and I am. Perhaps I can use my pen, supposedly mightier than the sword, to help us all.

Posted via email from Not Really Stealthmode

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

k December 31, 2009 at 11:14 am

Is it possible to take the $ 22K & move it to an offshore bank account?
Or give it to your kids and let them pay you back the money when you're in the program?

I get that you want to keep the house but what happens when you stop paying?
Did you personally buy the house or a company?

hardaway December 31, 2009 at 1:05 pm

I personally bought it, and I think I am going to try to contact higher ups
at Aurora rather than sink to its level:-)

Jay Thompson January 1, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Sounds like every other mortgage modification story I've heard, regardless of the lender.

It sucks.

You don't even want to get me started on how these banks are handling short sales — leaving thousands on the table while foreclosing on homeowners, many who are trying to do exactly the “right” thing.

“I'm going to cross-post it everywhere until I find someone who knows someone in Aurora Loan Services or its regulator.”

Sadly, I doubt that would help.

I think the problem Francine is, you are assuming — like any rational person would — that they care.

They don't.

hardaway January 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Jay, they have to be made to care. Or the politicians have to understand
that they don't care and act accordingly.

Bonnie Bauman January 2, 2010 at 9:24 am

Francine,

You have so many contacts. Have you considered trying to get on some TV air time?

hardaway January 2, 2010 at 10:30 am

No, but I got in touch with the COO of Aurora on LinkedIn and he is sending
me to the VP of Quality on Monday. Let's see…

ursulas January 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Francine, this is horrible. When I read this, I pictured the banks as one big money/blood-sucking vacuum. They will bleed you dry and then, maybe, they will help you? WTF?

hardaway January 2, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Luckily I got in touch with the COO of Aurora on LinkedIn. Let's see
what happens.

Francine Hardaway, Ph d
GV: 816-WRITTEN
Twitter: @Hardaway
http://blog.Stealthmode.com

zica January 15, 2010 at 6:51 pm

hmmm, any advice for someone just starting to try to get a loan modification?

hardaway January 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Find your loan servicer's highest ranking officer on LinkedIn and
communicate with him/her, rather than the customer service reps who
can't do anything.

Zica January 20, 2010 at 11:04 am

I'm not a member of LinkedIn, but my mortgage is with Aurora Loan Services. Did you have any luck after going through the higher ups? If so, any chance you can pass on the contact information to me? Any advice or help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

hardaway January 20, 2010 at 11:09 am

I don't know yet if I've had luck. They gave me notice within 24 hours that
I had qualified for the Making Home Affordable program, but when I got the
paperwork, I noticed that it is only a trial period, during which they
research your taxes, etc and the value of your house, and then they decide.
I don't know what criteria they use, and it's not Aurora. For this program,
Aurora is a gatekeeper for Fannie and Freddie. Have you tried applying to
the Making Home Affordable program through their web site?

Nancy Lopez February 27, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Hi…I feel your pain. Originally, I contacted Aurora Loan Services (my mortgage company) in October 2009 regarding a loan modification and was told by the representative that I qualified for Obama's home owner's incentive: submit the paperwork and monies asked for – which I did. I made the required payments for the three months necessary….then was sent a letter (and I received this letter two days ago) that I made too much money….my 2009 adjusted gross income was $49,000. I contacted Aurora today (27 Feb 2010), and was told that I am now in a foreclosure status….because I did not qualify for Obama's incentive. Go figure….now I am in arrears for $8500 for past payments….so much for assistance.

hardaway March 1, 2010 at 6:41 am

There are now many people in this situation. I have just fired off an email to the COO and the Senior VP of Quality to find out if there is any remedy in case this happens to me. In the mean time, I know there is at lest one person filing a class action law suit against Aurora, and you might want to contact her.

valeriegale March 14, 2010 at 10:37 am

I have had the same nightmare with Aurora. My husband left me and I'm trying everything I can to keep my house, but no one want's to help. If anyone has had any luck with Aurora or any answers that would be great.

TJackson March 25, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Francine; The Hardship Affidavit I signed with Aurora Loan Services, and probably you signed, states you may have in reserve “emergency funds” equal to three months total “DEBT” payments, not “MORTGAGE” payments. I was denied for the same reason as you and had $800. too much in checkings and savings. Take into consideration Aurora ceased taking out my mortgage payment after the 90 day trial period while they were assessing my eligibility, so those mortgage payments are included in what I hold in “reserves”. I was receiving collection notices and notes taped to my home front door from Aurora during the trial period and afterwards while waiting to be approved. Every time, multiple times, I called Aurora about the notices, they told me to “ignore them”. They said their systems don't jive with each other and if Collections come to my door again, let them know I am in the Modification process. I applied for the HAMP program because of a medical hardship. I told Aurora, either I am in default or I am not, plus considering my medical condition and what the stress from continually being threatened with foreclosure can do to an ill person, I will consider it harassment if they continue to do one thing and say another. It didn't stop them from coming to my door. I just got my denial letter stating I'm not eligible because I have too much money (total checking and savings of $5,100.), even though they miscalculated what I could have, didn't consider I hadn't made three months payments while waiting to be approved, was told to ignore the collection letters and they chose to not take into consideration that my monthly debt bills weren't paid at the printing of the bank statement date I provided them. I sent them a printout showing what I had after my monthly bills were paid four days after the statement date, and they completely ignored that document. And we're talking about an $800. difference here! Also keep in mind they let you know ahead of time to try to set the payment money aside during the process, just in case you're not approved and you then have to pay it all back. However, if I would have made the payments (which I was being told to “ignore”) then I would have not been considered for the program because I could afford to make the payments. Ah, but I would have had a zero bank balance and would have been within their “reserves” quidelines. Catch 22. Your doomed either way. Now my home is considered 6 months into the foreclosure process beginning during the trial period, I'm being reported to credit agencies as delinquent. I've been moved into active foreclosure process since I didn't pay up 2 months ago when I received one of the default notices that I was told to “ignore”. Contact your Congressman. The Federal Trade Commission. The US Treasury Department. State Attorney General's Office. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Write our President. Keep sending out letters and making posts until people like us are heard. Good luck to everyone. I hope we find a forum to unite, hopefully in the form of a nation-wide class action lawsuit against Aurora Loan Services. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” MLK Jr.

TJackson March 26, 2010 at 5:34 am

Francine; The Hardship Affidavit I signed with Aurora Loan Services, and probably you signed, states you may have in reserve “emergency funds” equal to three months total “DEBT” payments, not “MORTGAGE” payments. I was denied for the same reason as you and had $800. too much in checkings and savings. Take into consideration Aurora ceased taking out my mortgage payment after the 90 day trial period while they were assessing my eligibility, so those mortgage payments are included in what I hold in “reserves”. I was receiving collection notices and notes taped to my home front door from Aurora during the trial period and afterwards while waiting to be approved. Every time, multiple times, I called Aurora about the notices, they told me to “ignore them”. They said their systems don’t jive with each other and if Collections come to my door again, let them know I am in the Modification process. I applied for the HAMP program because of a medical hardship. I told Aurora, either I am in default or I am not, plus considering my medical condition and what the stress from continually being threatened with foreclosure can do to an ill person, I will consider it harassment if they continue to do one thing and say another. It didn’t stop them from coming to my door. I just got my denial letter stating I’m not eligible because I have too much money (total checking and savings of $5,100.), even though they miscalculated what I could have, didn’t consider I hadn’t made three months payments while waiting to be approved, was told to ignore the collection letters and they chose to not take into consideration that my monthly debt bills weren’t paid at the printing of the bank statement date I provided them. I sent them a printout showing what I had after my monthly bills were paid four days after the statement date, and they completely ignored that document. And we’re talking about an $800. difference here! Also keep in mind they let you know ahead of time to try to set the payment money aside during the process, just in case you’re not approved and you then have to pay it all back. However, if I would have made the payments (which I was being told to “ignore”) then I would have not been considered for the program because I could afford to make the payments. Ah, but I would have had a zero bank balance and would have been within their “reserves” quidelines. Catch 22. Your doomed either way. Now my home is considered 6 months into the foreclosure process beginning during the trial period, I’m being reported to credit agencies as delinquent. I’ve been moved into active foreclosure process since I didn’t pay up 2 months ago when I received one of the default notices that I was told to “ignore”. Contact your Congressman. The Federal Trade Commission. The US Treasury Department. State Attorney General’s Office. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Write our President. Keep sending out letters and making posts until people like us are heard. Good luck to everyone. I hope we find a forum to unite, hopefully in the form of a nation-wide class action lawsuit against Aurora Loan Services. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” MLK Jr.

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hardaway August 21, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Learn from experts how to start or grow your business, even in this economy. Come to AZEC10 (http://www.azec10.com).

rnrn

I’d like to remind you that we have significant discounts for early registration at http://azec10.eventbrite.com

rnrn

AZEC10 is the premier Arizona conference directly geared to entrepreneurs, and people come from everywhere (even Canada) to attend.This year’s speakers include industry analyst and wen-strategist Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang); Bay Area VC Dave McClure (@davemcclure), Flowtown co-founder Ethan Bloch (@ebloch), Infustionsoft founder Clate Mask (@infusionsoft), and entrepreneurial photographer Kris Krug (@kk).

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This is a personal invitation to you, to join me.

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hardaway August 21, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Learn from experts how to start or grow your business, even in this economy. Come to AZEC10 (http://www.azec10.com).

rnrn

I’d like to remind you that we have significant discounts for early registration at http://azec10.eventbrite.com

rnrn

AZEC10 is the premier Arizona conference directly geared to entrepreneurs, and people come from everywhere (even Canada) to attend.This year’s speakers include industry analyst and wen-strategist Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang); Bay Area VC Dave McClure (@davemcclure), Flowtown co-founder Ethan Bloch (@ebloch), Infustionsoft founder Clate Mask (@infusionsoft), and entrepreneurial photographer Kris Krug (@kk).

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This is a personal invitation to you, to join me.

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hardaway August 21, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Learn from experts how to start or grow your business, even in this economy. Come to AZEC10 (http://www.azec10.com).

rnrn

I’d like to remind you that we have significant discounts for early registration at http://azec10.eventbrite.com

rnrn

AZEC10 is the premier Arizona conference directly geared to entrepreneurs, and people come from everywhere (even Canada) to attend.This year’s speakers include industry analyst and wen-strategist Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang); Bay Area VC Dave McClure (@davemcclure), Flowtown co-founder Ethan Bloch (@ebloch), Infustionsoft founder Clate Mask (@infusionsoft), and entrepreneurial photographer Kris Krug (@kk).

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This is a personal invitation to you, to join me.

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hardaway August 21, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Learn from experts how to start or grow your business, even in this economy. Come to AZEC10 (http://www.azec10.com).

rnrn

I’d like to remind you that we have significant discounts for early registration at http://azec10.eventbrite.com

rnrn

AZEC10 is the premier Arizona conference directly geared to entrepreneurs, and people come from everywhere (even Canada) to attend.This year’s speakers include industry analyst and wen-strategist Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang); Bay Area VC Dave McClure (@davemcclure), Flowtown co-founder Ethan Bloch (@ebloch), Infustionsoft founder Clate Mask (@infusionsoft), and entrepreneurial photographer Kris Krug (@kk).

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hardaway August 22, 2010 at 9:19 pm

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hardaway August 22, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Here’s my personal invitation to attend AZEC10 (http://www.azec10.com), the premier conference in Arizona to help entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Here, VCs and entrepreneurs and resources meet and learn from each other.

rnrn

This year’s cast of characters includes Bay Area VC Dave McClure (@davemcclure), web strategist and industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang), Infusionsoft founder Clate Mask (@infusionsoft), legendary entrepreneur/photographer Kris Krug (@kk) and a host of Arizona companies and resources,

rnrn

Early Bird Registration is available at http://azec10.eventbrite.com, and I hope to see you there!

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hardaway August 22, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Here’s my personal invitation to attend AZEC10 (http://www.azec10.com), the premier conference in Arizona to help entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Here, VCs and entrepreneurs and resources meet and learn from each other.

rnrn

This year’s cast of characters includes Bay Area VC Dave McClure (@davemcclure), web strategist and industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang), Infusionsoft founder Clate Mask (@infusionsoft), legendary entrepreneur/photographer Kris Krug (@kk) and a host of Arizona companies and resources,

rnrn

Early Bird Registration is available at http://azec10.eventbrite.com, and I hope to see you there!

This email was sent to
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hardaway August 22, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Here’s my personal invitation to attend AZEC10 (http://www.azec10.com), the premier conference in Arizona to help entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Here, VCs and entrepreneurs and resources meet and learn from each other.

rnrn

This year’s cast of characters includes Bay Area VC Dave McClure (@davemcclure), web strategist and industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang), Infusionsoft founder Clate Mask (@infusionsoft), legendary entrepreneur/photographer Kris Krug (@kk) and a host of Arizona companies and resources,

rnrn

Early Bird Registration is available at http://azec10.eventbrite.com, and I hope to see you there!

This email was sent to
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GHaranzen March 9, 2011 at 4:29 am

Aurora Loan turned me down five times and the customer service was rude, got a real estate agent and got turned down twice then they told me to get a lawyer and got turned down 3 times with they sayd that they have many lawyers and I had only one, after I paid legal fees, apraisals, inspections etc. now we are on a new saga: shortsale… why the Mr President gave the money to the banks? I think it is a good question, it is frustrating Aurora Loans is terrible.

Bad Credit Mortgage April 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Great advice sharing, and its fun to read you article.

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