FTC Bait? My Own Mortgage Crisis…

FTC Bait? My Own Mortgage Crisis…

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Countrywide Home LoansI knew it.

I knew it!

I knew that canceling PMI wasn’t going to be easy. I just knew it.

And I’m pissed.

Here’s the letter I received from Countrywide’s Mortgage Insurance Department yesterday:

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.

So, basically, they want me to pay them $130 even though I’ve met the criteria required to cancel PMI. I get it.

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

Yep, it must.

I understand that the housing market is down and that mortgage companies like Countrywide are struggling but it was pretty clear (even on Countrywide’s website) that PMI cancellation could be requested at the 20% mark based entirely on the original value of the home. I’m past that mark.

While $130 really isn’t that much — my wife says it’s a great deal — the idea of paying them more to tell me that my house is worth more than it was 6 years ago doesn’t sit well with me.

Neither does taking time off of work to have a realtor come over and tour my house with a camera. The Fair Plan insurance inspections I’ve been subjected to are more than enough… Yeah, maybe I have privacy issues, but it’s really not cool to be forced to let strangers (essentially un-invited) poke their heads into your closets. And then demand money.

Heading over to the Federal Trade Commission’s website, on the subject of Private Mortgage Insurance they state:

For home mortgages signed on or after July 29, 1999, your PMI must – with certain exceptions – be terminated automatically when you reach 22 percent equity in your home based on the original property value, if your mortgage payments are current. Your PMI also can be canceled, when you request – with certain exceptions – when you reach 20 percent equity in your home based on the original property value, if your mortgage payments are current.

One exception is if your loan is “high-risk.” Another is if you have not been current on your payments within the year prior to the time for termination or cancellation. A third is if you have other liens on your property. For these loans, your PMI may continue. Ask your lender or mortgage servicer (a company that collects your payments) for more information about these requirements.

None of those exceptions apply to my loan. Not one.

My mortgage was signed after July 29, 1999. It’s not high risk, it’s current, and there are no liens on my property. No re-fi’s, no HELOC’s… Nothing…

Perhaps I should file a complaint with the FTC? That would probably be an even bigger hassle. You’d think that what the FTC says would “supersede” anything Countrywide says about the matter… You’d think…

But now I’m wondering if Countrywide will drop PMI without question at the 22% mark — where it’s supposed to drop automatically. While I’d prefer not to send the additional funds towards the mortgage right now, that mark is just around $2500 away. Do-able.

But if, at the 22% mark, they still come back with this exact same form letter, well, I guess I’m not sure what I’ll do then, but filing a complaint with the FTC will definitely look more attractive.

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