Broken Countrywide RecordAs predicted here back on July 23rd, Countrywide mailed me the exact same form letter they’d sent me a week prior that I’d told them was unacceptable.

I was hoping for a fresh response, but to no avail… They sent the exact same letter:

IMPORTANT MESSAGE ABOUT YOUR LOAN

Thank you for your recent inquiry about deleting the mortgage insurance on your Countrywide home loan. Your loan must meet current mortgage insurance cancellation requirements for this to occur. Please allow us to explain what this involves.

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WHAT THIS MEANS

The current value of your property must be equal to or greater than the original value of your property at the time the loan closed for the PMI to be deleted. The original value of your property means the lesser of the sales price or the appraised value at the closing of a purchase loan, and the appraised value at the closing of a refinance loan. A Certificate of Value (COV) is required to determine if the current value of your property is sufficient to meet this requirement. Your noteholder requires Countrywide Home Loans to select your COV provider. You will be responsible for the cost of the COV. Before you send a check or call to provide credit card information for you COV, we would suggest that you try to verify that the value of your property meet the above mentioned criteria.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

If you choose to continue with the COV ordering process, simply complete the form at the bottom of this letter and return it with a check made payable to Landsafe Appraisal Services for $130.00. You must reference your loan number and write “COV Fee” on the check. Please do not include the COV fee along with your regular monthly payment. It must be sent separately.

Landsafe w ill [sic] contract a local Broker or Realtor to perform the COV, which will include an interior inspection and photographs. The Broker or Realtor should identify himself or herself and indicate that he or she was contracted by Landsafe. If he or she fails to do so, please ask. Our department will then review the COV and if it is determined that it adequately supports at least the original value of the property, your request will be approved. The insurance will be cancelled and your payment adjusted accordingly.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Because of your timely payment record, we are able to consider your request; however, please keep in mind that any late payment may prevent cancellation.

If you do not take action within 60 days, please contact us at (800) 669-6607 to confirm your continued eligibility.

We look forward to receiving you COV soon so that we can take care of this matter for you.

Requirements are subject to change.

This letter supersedes any previous information that may have been provided to you.

Gee, thanks.

Once again, they failed to answer my simple yes or no question.

They also, apparently, didn’t comprehend my question either… Either that or they ignored it.

I certainly didn’t ask for this letter a second time. Did I?

If you’re completely lost, new to my personal PMI plight, or are in a similar situation with your own mortgage company, I suggest you read the PIAC archives on the subject.

I can’t claim that they hold a lot of real useful information, but at least you won’t feel like you’re the only one getting screwed over.

I’m not really in favor of bashing Countrywide — there are entire websites out there dedicated to that sort of thing.

Looking at some of the listed “gripes”, I dunno, you sorta have to take them with a grain of salt.

Lots of people bitch and moan about things that they really have no business complaining about. I also think that they exaggerate the facts a bit too… Ever look at some of the negative product reviews on Amazon? Yikes!

When my mortgage changed hands 3 times before my second mortgage payment was due, I was pretty happy when that first bill came from a company I’d actually heard of — Countrywide.

Since then, things have gone quite smoothly for the most part. It’s been nearly 6 years with Countrywide.

I love that I’ve been able to send them payments blindly on a weekly basis and that they’ve correctly assumed to put those extra payments towards the principle. They haven’t charged me a single fee either — though if I’d initiated a bi-weekly plan through them, there would have been associated fees.

I’d originally tested out the plan starting with one $25 payment back in June 2007. Last month, I sent them over $1500 extra in payments. All of it towards the principle. It’s been great. Kudos to Countrywide.

But my relationship has also been soured in the last month.

As I approached paying off 20% of my mortgage, I started to look into having the Private Mortgage Insurance on my mortgage removed which was (is) costing me $85.15 per month.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – PMI is extra insurance that lenders require from most homebuyers who obtain loans that are more than 80 percent of their new home’s value. In other words, buyers with less than a 20 percent down payment are normally required to pay PMI.

PMI plays an important role in the mortgage industry by protecting a lender against loss if a borrower defaults on a loan and by enabling borrowers with less cash to have greater access to homeownership. With this type of insurance, it is possible for you to buy a home with as little as a 3 percent to 5 percent down payment. This means that you can buy a home sooner without waiting years to accumulate a large down payment.

Under HPA, you have the right to request cancellation of PMI when you pay down your mortgage to the point that it equals 80 percent of the original purchase price or appraised value of your home at the time the loan was obtained, whichever is less. You also need a good payment history, meaning that you have not been 30 days late with your mortgage payment within a year of your request, or 60 days late within two years. Your lender may require evidence that the value of the property has not declined below its original value and that the property does not have a second mortgage, such as a home equity loan.

I put in a request to have it removed when I surpassed the 20% mark.

In response, I received the letter quoted above. I was not happy.

A little research pointed me towards the Federal Trade Commission. They’re an independent agency of the U.S. government and one of their primary functions is to regulate and enforce consumer protection. Kinda like Clark Howard but on a bigger and more authoritative scale.

They state that Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) must be terminated automatically by the mortgage company when the borrower reaches 22 percent equity in the home based on the original property value — most often, the purchase price.

Having been rejected by Countrywide when I was allowed to request removal (at 20%), I wanted confirmation from them that when I reached 22%, like the FTC says, that the PMI would indeed be terminated.

They responded with the same form letter. Yeah, that same one quoted above. Again.

Is this post starting to sound like a broken record?

Yeah, I thought so.

It’s really frustrating because I can’t seem to get a solid answer.

On the previously mentioned Countrywide-bashing website, you can read all about countless other people in a similar situation but nothing quite as simple as mine.

They all have 3/1 ARMs, re-fi’s, stacked mortgages, interest-only mortgages, and some are trying to get the PMI removed after just 4 payments or something.

You know, really complicated stuff. Stuff that I’d side with Countrywide on. They should be rejected cause, well, they’re risky.

My situation is not complicated.

I have one mortgage.

It’s a standard 30-year fixed rate mortgage. The rate is a decent 6.735%. I paid 0 points.

It’s not an FHA Loan. HUD was never mentioned. There weren’t any special “First Time Buyer” prizes or credits thrown in upon purchase. They were offered, yes, but I was quite skeptical about such freebies and turned them all down.

It’s just a boring generic old fashioned run-of-the-mill mortgage.

I’ve made 71 payments so far. Seventy-one out of 360 total scheduled. If it takes me all 360 payments to pay this mortgage off, I’m just shy of 20% of the way finished right now. This isn’t a new loan.

It’s also not a jumbo loan. I borrowed $131k. That’s it.

There are no other liens against the home.

It wasn’t a zero-down home purchase.

I’ve never missed a payment.

I’ve never taken out a HELOC.

I’ve never refinanced.

With all that, you’d think that I’d be an ideal candidate to have PMI removed at the 80% mark — when you’re permitted to ask them to remove it.

Well, you’d be wrong.

I haven’t hit the 78% mark just yet. It may come later this month, at which point I’ll submit another request to have PMI removed. If not this month, then next month for sure…

But I’ll be damned if they send me the same form letter a third time requesting that I pay them $135 for an appraisal that the FTC indicates isn’t necessary.

Hmmmm… Countrywide policies or Federal Law?

Which takes precedence?

Sadly, I’m expecting my third form letter.

And then I’ll file my FTC complaint and continue to pay PMI indefinitely…

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I feel for ya! And it is probably word for word the same canned answer – it’s like nobody working for those customer service/call center places has a brain!

    I worked for UPS for a while and we had a plethora of canned answers and I finally quit because I realized I wasn’t helping people – I was just causing more frustration! It never felt so good to write a resignation letter!

    Keep on it tho – as I know you will! Know that sharing your experiences is helping others, like me, who will be going thru the same thing soon! I am, however, starting to thank my mortgage broker tho for selling my loan to Chase and not Countrywide! And also know that although it isn’t a funny situation, injecting humor into your blog like you do makes for a brighter day to atleast one of your readers! (me!) Keep the blogs comin’ – love them!

  2. I so feel for you, as a person with equity (hard to find these days) and a consistent performer a different but challengning story of lack of customer satisfaction from Countrywide… We would love to here your outcome as well as any others at http://www.countrylied.com, we want to let the public hear from all types of homeowners and continue to expose the weaknesses in our mortgage servicers

  3. I don’t think it’s going to get any better for you.

    My situation is very similar. I have a 6% fixed-rate mortgage for 30 years with Countrywide with no special considerations (HUD, subprime, Alt-A, etc…).

    Anyhow, I went past the 20% threshold several months and was unsuccessful in getting PMI removed. According to the HPA of 1998, lenders are not obligated to remove at 20%, but may remove it if the borrower is in good standing and can validate that the appraised value of the property has not declined.

    I opted not to request an appraisal, as Countrywide requires that it be through a company which it subcontracts for this. Call me a cynic, but I’m inclined to think that this company would probably err on the low side for its appraisals with regard to PMI deletion requests.

    Anyhow, I’m now over 22% and they have not automatically canceled PMI, as per HPA. They have sent me the same stock letter indicating that I need an appraisal. Reps at Countrywide have told me the same thing.

    I’m calling in again on Monday. After that, my calls will be going to state and federal authorities. I have paid every month on time, most months with much more than due, am not subprime or Alt-A, etc… and I’m getting this treatment? I am so frustrated and annoyed, I’m contemplating starting a class action lawsuit against Countrywide, as this is clearly their standard operating procedure and I’m also clearly not the only party enduring this.

  4. I am at the 78% mark as well and just talked to a countrywide rep. who assured me that my PMI would be canceled once he submitted a request himself, so im crossing my fingers.

  5. Really, Tyler? Please do keep me (and everyone who comes across this post) updated!

    I’m crossing my own fingers for you too!

  6. I am just starting with them on the pmi, and can already tell its going to be a blast.I have a 30yr conventional fixed loan and have been on time for over a year now. The difference in my case is that i remodeled the house inside and out i pd 60,000 for the house, and was apraised for 115,000 minimum so going off that i am way past the min. requirement for equity. She told me i would get a letter soon……this is going to be fun i love new challenges, but see i dont lose you want to start that class action let me know. If this does not go smoothly im going to flip out.

  7. the rules have changed again, now its 400.00 and no guarantee, country wide must receive kickbacks from their insurance company, over six years of paying and no chance of removal of pmi.

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