JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If you are looking to refinance your mortgage there are a lot more hoops to jump through these days before you get a better interest rate and a lower payment. Banks are extra cautious. They don't want to repeat the mistakes they made years ago. As a result, they're standards are tougher. But there are ways to have your bank stamp "approved" on your loan.
Vanessa and Russel Rigdon say they have been trying for months to restructure the mortgage on their mobile home. "I need to reduce my payment," says Vanessa Rigdon. The Rigdon's hoped to get help at the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America's event at the Prime Osborne Convention Center last month.
NACA works with banks and consumers by putting them under one roof and discussing a solution. Rigdon's previous attempts to reduce her payment with Wells Fargo went nowhere. "They wanted to extend it longer and raise the payments about $10 a month."
Every time Bank of America successfully remodified a loan the B of A employees shook their plastic handclappers inside the convention center. Over at the Wells Fargo side the Rigdon's were hoping for a similar outcome. "Have you filed bankruptcy in the last 7 to 10 years?" asks a Wells Fargo employee. "No Ma'am, but it looks like in the near future I may unless y'all can help me out," says Rigdon
The Rigdon's are among 11 million American homeowners who have underwater mortgages. Their home is worth less than they owe. Many like them have been stonewalled when trying to restructure their loan or they have simply given up because the bank asked for too much information. "The best thing and the best advice I can give the customer is be prepared to have all of your documents, anything that you're claiming and you want us to consider before we make the decision on your loan have it in hand," says Bank of America Vice President Angeanette Dowles.
Maria Delgado was among the lucky ones. She got her payment reduced from $978 to $688 and can keep her home despite missing four payments. "Yes, they remodified it. I brought all the paperwork they requested, they have very knowledgable counselors that guide me through the process and everything is taken care of."
Jim Branch, Vice President of Regions Bank, says consumers need to understand that loans take longer to get approved because banks are under more pressure from the government to get it right. He also consumers should not intentionally miss their payments in order to get government help. "These loans are scrutinized today more than they ever have been in the past and that's why a loan today might be more difficult today for the consumer than it had been in the past," says Branch.
Vaness Rigdon wasn't so lucky in her effort to get her payments reduced. "There's a different branch of Wells Fargo dealer services, not Wells Fargo home services and so they were not able to help me." But she says that's not dampening her spirits to try again. "Start over. That's the next step, for the third time."
In addition to all your documents being in order also make sure to check your credit rating, determine changes in property value, research possible prepayment penalties on your existing and new mortgage and also ask lenders for a full disclosure of closing costs.
First Coast News