Skip to main content
Category

you might learn something

LBPS Strikes a New Low

By condo, conversations, drama, financial wisdom, hazards to my well-being, mortgage, not ruling at life, top notch communication blunders, you might learn something 8 Comments

Today, my mortgage company (IBM LBPS) really blew themselves out of the water. As you may know, a few months ago, I was working with them to try and negotiate a short refinance. To make a long story short, that was an epic failure. After four months of LBPS giving me the run-around and other lenders telling me they could approve me but not give me the proper documentation to show it, I’ve pretty much given up hope on the short refinance. I think what sealed the deal was this chat conversation that I had with Quicken Loans (LBPS’ recommended refinance experts!) last week:

Thank you for inquiring with Quicken Loans, we’re America’s #1 online lender and do business in all 50 states! Please hold while we connect you with the best suited Mortgage Expert.
You have been connected to James Springer.
James S.: Hello Lisa. How can I help you today?
Lisa: Hi, James. I have a current mortgage with IBM LBPS, and they recommended me to Quicken Loans. I am trying to work out a refinance with an FHA Short Refinance loan — do you have any loan officers that specialize in these short refis?
James S.: What do you mean by ‘short’ refinance?
Lisa: Have you ever heard of this program? https://www.quickenloans.com/mortgage-news/mortgage-program-underwater-fha-short-refinance
James S.: Ok. I need your full name, address, date of birth and social security number.
Lisa: I’m not giving you my social security number through a chat window.

Really? Really.

So, on to my next few options. I did some research on more of Fannie Mae’s options for upside-down borrowers, and I actually found a pretty attraction program called Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA). HAFA is an extension of the Making Home Affordable options (HAMP and HARP), neither of which will work for my co-borrower and I. HAMP is the Home Affordable Modification Program, which modifies eligible borrowers’ loans to make monthly payments more affordable. HARP is the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which enables eligible borrowers to refinance up to 125 percent of their property’s current value at a lower interest rate. Unfortunately, borrowers with private mortgage insurance (PMI) on their loans only qualify to refinance 95 percent of their home’s value under HARP.

HAFA offers three additional options – a short sale, a deed-in-lieu or a deed-for-lease. All three of these options are potential contenders because all three will get the loan out of my co-borrower’s name. Although, they’ll all get the loan out of my name, too, so it looks like I may be moving soon. (Closer to the beach, of course.)

From what I can tell, the HAFA options are a little more borrower-friendly than their traditional counterparts. Normally, short sales can be tricky and involve lots of delays and last-minute negotiating once an offer is made on the property. For instance, a lender won’t even really review/approve a traditional short sale until the property is listed and the seller receives an offer. In the meantime, the lender can begin foreclosure proceedings if the homeowner isn’t staying current with their payments. Plus, in states like Virginia, the lender may pursue a deficiency judgment for the difference between what is owed on the home and what the home sells for. Same thing with a foreclosure or a deed-in-lieu. That makes these options much less attractive in my state than they may be in other states.

HAFA takes a little more time up front, but the end result seems a little more defined. In order to qualify, the borrower must be reviewed and either approved or denied for HAMP. That can take 30 to 45 days, but once approval or denial is granted, the borrower can request to go the HAFA route for a short sale, deed-in-lieu or deed-for lease. It sounds like lenders will have a borrower at least list the home and try to sell it before allowing a deed-in-lieu, but if the homeowner wants to stay in the home, they’ll offer a deed-for lease. A deed-for-lease means that the borrower signs over the deed to the lender and then rents the property for the going market rate from the lender for a set amount of time. That sounds kind of interesting, huh?

The biggest difference I can see (and keep in mind, I’m not an expert on these things — this is just my full-time hobby) between traditional short sale/deed-in-lieu transactions and HAFA options is that a lot of the terms seem to be negotiated up front for HAFA. Like there’s no deficiency judgments — the lender can’t pursue any money or promissory notes after the closing. Also, the probability of the sale actually closing is much higher, and the seller even leaves the transaction with up to $3,000 in relocation assistance at the end of the deal. This Bank of America PDF about the program actually has a really comprehensive comparison chart on page 9 if you want to check out the differences side by side.

So, you can imagine my astonishment when I called LBPS over the weekend and inquired (of one of their short sale specialists) what the difference was between HAFA and a traditional short sale, and she had the audacity to tell me, “Nothing, really.” Oh, really? Okay.

You can also imagine how appalled I was when I called LBPS twice today and was told, “We don’t do HAFA short sales here.”

“You don’t?”

“No, ma’am. I just asked my supervisor. We don’t do those.”

“Well, that’s interesting. Do you have Internet access?”

“Yup.”

“Okay, why don’t you pull up this website: https://www.efanniemae.com/sf/guides/ssg/annltrs/pdf/2010/svc1007.pdf. Do you know what this is? This is a letter from Fannie Mae to every single one of their servicers. It says you were required to implement this program by August 1, 2010.”

“Oh.”

“I dare you to tell me again that you don’t do these. Now transfer me to someone who knows what the f— is going on in the freaking mortgage industry these days.”

So, yeah. Story of my life.

This crazy trip has got me feelin’: frustrated
And I’m singin’ along to: Be My Escape – Relient K

Marketing in a Socially Connected World

By pr/marketing, really great money-making ideas, shopping, social media, you might learn something No Comments

The other day, Doug McCoy of Nordstrom Bellevue Square tweeted something that piqued my interest.

NordstromBVUE: In a socially connected world is great product the new marketing? Your thoughts…..

I actually did have a bunch of thoughts on this, so I e-mailed this tweet to myself with a note to blog about it over the weekend.

I’d have to say that yes, in a socially connected world a great product is imperative to marketing. It used to be that marketing was one-way communication — you put your product out there, and you hoped that consumers would buy it. Advertisers spent all kinds of time creating messages and strategies to impose on their target markets — most of which those markets were subjected to involuntarily. But now, through the explosion of the Internet and social media, marketing has become very much a two-way street. Customers can review products, share them, promote them and voluntarily reach out for information about them. Sounds like if your product isn’t great to begin with, you’re toast.

But, while a great product is a great start, it’s not the end of the road. You still need a clear map of how to get your product noticed because it may not be solely through traditional means of marketing (magazine advertisements, commercials, reviews by major publications). There are so many options out there these days, and you need a clear idea of who and what is influencing your target audience. How are your competitors marketing their products? Who are the major social media influencers for your product? What are the most creative ways to get your product out there?

Your product must be “share”able — if you want fans to tweet it, share it, blog about it, post it on Facebook, add it to Fancy, etc., you must make it easy for the average user to do that. For example, this could be as simple adding a white-background, magazine-worthy photo of your product to your website that bloggers or designers can use to create collages or feature your product via their own websites and publications. So many times, I’ve had to skip using a product I truly loved in a collage for my blog and use something similar instead. It’s usually because I didn’t want the actual model wearing the product in my collage — does that make sense?

I think that especially in the fashion industry, there’s been a major shift in how consumers view products and marketing. For so long, society has bought into the fallacy that buying the clothing that super-skinny models and extra-beautiful celebrities are wearing will make us look that good, too. That’s a nice fantasy (in theory), but the last few years have been an economic reality check around here. As a result, people have scaled back and are less easily swayed by marketing campaigns. Consumers are looking for real-life evidence to reinforce the fact that they’re spending their dollars on quality products. They’re not going to take your magazine ad’s word for it — they’re going to look for proof through their friends and social connections online.

And that’s where your great product comes in. If it’s great, then people will vouch for it. If it’s awesome, then people will share it willingly and promote it to their connections. So, yes. A great product is the first and most important step in marketing to a socially connected world. Getting that product out to the right influencers seals the deal.

This crazy trip has got me feelin’: kind of knowledgeable
And I’m singin’ along to: Hideaway – The Weepies

A Letter to the Governor of Pennsylvania

By breaking news, drama, extreme sports, games, hazards to my well-being, new jersey, political views, posts in the form of letters, top notch communication blunders, weather, you might learn something 4 Comments

Dear Governor Ed Rendell,

You’re an idiot. Was it just that you had nothing else you could possibly do other than watch football on Sunday night? Sounds like you’ve scaled your social life to about the same level as my neighbor who rifles through trash bags on Tuesday afternoons.

As an elected public official, I would think that the safety of the general public would at least cross your mind before you start calling your country a “nation of wusses” and comparing us to the Chinese, who, according to you, can march to football games in blizzard conditions while doing calculus. (Note: Marching because if they can concentrate on sports and calculus at the same time, then I’m assuming they’re smart enough not to drive in white-out conditions.)

The thing is, Ed, we’re not a nation of wusses. We’re a nation of fearless, bumbling morons in pickup trucks who like to drink beer, go shirtless in the freezing cold for football, and drive in f-ing blizzards. So, people like the mature, intelligent mayor of Philadelphia are forced to make unpopular decisions because if given the choice between staying home or driving to a game in the snow, nine times out of ten the “fans’ choice” (as you put it) would be the wrong one. And by getting on the road in a blizzard, those fans would be putting everyone else in danger.

Granted, a majority of the snow didn’t fall in Philadelphia (only a foot!), but everywhere east of there was pretty much pummeled. The Eagles are cool enough to have fans in New York and New Jersey, right? Or maybe even Delaware? There’s nothing going on in that state, so you’ve got to have some fans down there.

My point is this. One of the contributing factors to the lack of plowing going on around here is that there are abandoned cars blocking all of the major roadways. Plows, ambulances, fire trucks, emergency vehicles have been unable to navigate their way to where they need to be for going on 48 hours now, but people are still getting in their cars to drive around, and people are still getting stuck in some places. Do you see the problem?

Think before you talk, Governor. If the mayor of Philadelphia was able to keep even 5,000 measly people off the road on Sunday night, he did the right thing.

To the Eagles and their fans, I’m sorry that Tuesday’s game was a disappointment and you lost, but seriously? I don’t think you wanted to play/attend that game in that snow either. Right?

Anyway, to sum things up, I’m pretty much glad I don’t live in Pennsylvania because I’d be super embarrassed to have my state name associated with yours these last few days. (Also because you have no beach there.) Maybe you should drive your car out onto the PA Turnpike, pull over onto the shoulder, and sit in it for two days. Then you might understand the importance of not driving in snow. (And also how crappy that dumb road is.)

Good luck recovering from this fumble.

Idly,
A snowed in former resident of your neighboring state of New Jersey whose dad and brother spent 7.5 hours stuck on the side of the road in a car trying to get home from the NJ Devils game, which also should have been cancelled

P.S. In China, football is soccer, and it’s so poisoned with corruption, they’ve actually had to kick off a campaign to set it straight.

Snowed In – Part II

By breaking news, conversations, drama, extreme sports, food, games, hazards to my well-being, new jersey, trains/train stations, weather, you might learn something 12 Comments

2010-12-27_08-48-59_739

This was the view out my window when I woke up yesterday morning. Um. Yeah.

Hold on, let me back up. On Sunday night, my dad and my brother took a train to the…wait. Further than that.

One of the gifts my mom gave my dad and my brother for Christmas was a night stuck in a snow drift near Monmouth University pair of Devils tickets for Sunday night. As the predicted 10 inches (that’s nothing up here!) of snow began to pile up Sunday evening, they drove five minutes up the road to the train station and headed up to the game. I was reading a magazine when they left, but the last thing I heard Stephen say was, “I’m 25, and I care what my hair looks like! I’m not wearing a hat!” Um, okay.

The first plow came through our neighborhood around 8:30 that night, and as the hockey game drew to a close on TV, my mom headed out in the blizzard to shovel a path up the driveway for my dad and my brother to get in. I guess that’s when she noticed there was about two feet of snow in the road. In. The. Road.

We tried to call them and tell them to find someplace to stay in Newark, but they responded with something along the lines of, “We’re two grown men. We can figure it out.” Click.

If you haven’t grasped this by now, it doesn’t matter what kind of car you’re driving, whether it be a Hummer or a front loader — you cannot drive through two feet of snow.

So, they got stuck. They got off the train around midnight, and by 2:00 a.m., they called to let us know that they were stuck with a bunch of other cars near Monmouth University. “We’ve got a full tank of gas and heat, so we’re going to wait it out,” Stephen said.

“Tell them to keep both tailpipes clear,” my mom said.

“Mommy says keep both tailpipes clear, so you don’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning,” I said.

“Okay, but my phone is dying, so stop calling me.”

By this point, I hope you’ve already learned three things:

1. Don’t drive in the snow if you don’t need to. Ten inches can turn into 30 pretty quickly.

2. If you do get stuck in the snow, crack a window and check the tailpipe.

3. Who the f— leaves the house in a blizzard with a dead phone? Don’t do that either.

Anyway. So, back to the photo up top there. That’s what I woke up to around 7:00 a.m. on Monday. Still hadn’t heard from my dad and Stephen, so we were getting a little worried. We waited around watching the news until about 9:30. Stuff about abandoned cars on the Parkway, busses stuck, people stranded on airplanes and subway trains, women giving birth in SUVs…the works.

Then the phone rang. “OPEN THE BACK DOOR!” It was Stephen.

He had somehow managed to work his way through a quarter mile of waist-high snow to walk home. WTF?

Apparently, they were towed from where they were stuck because they were in the way of an ambulance. They managed to get the car to the West Long Branch fire station, where my dad stayed with my car, and my brother decided to make a break for it.

My mom opened the back door. “Holy sh*t,” I said. “That is f-ing deep.”

“You have to go around the front, Stephen,” my mom yelled to him.

“I can’t! I’m exhausted. Call daddy, and tell him not to try to walk here. He’ll never make it!”

RESCUE MISSION!

No, seriously. We had to f-ing dig him out. Like we had to bundle up and use shovels to dig ourselves out of the garage and around the side of the house out to the pool to make a path for him to get into the house. No joke.

See?

20101227_025

Anyway, so Stephen got home. My dad, on the other hand, had to stay with the car in case the fire station got a call, at which point he would need to move it out of the way to make room for the trucks to get out.

We hung around the house all day, eating all kinds of junk food, playing Wii games like Boggle, Sorry and Yahtzee, taking naps, shopping online, and various other boring things that people do when they’re stuck in a blizzard. I can say it was still a blizzard on Monday afternoon because The Weather Channel said so the wind gusts were still exceeding 40 MPH, so even though the snow wasn’t falling, it sure didn’t look very pleasant outside.

By 3:30, we were bored out of our minds and feeling a little bad for my dad, who was still stuck at the firehouse. We hadn’t seen or heard a plow all day, and we figured he’d be spending the night there. We decided to take action and hatched a plan to bring him some supplies and food. We packed up some overnight essentials (toothbrush, pajama pants, slippers) and luxuries (blanket, meatballs, A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffett) and got ready to shovel.

You can see the flags flying at the firehouse from our window. See them?

20101227_042

The problem is that a very high fence runs all along the side of this property to the road, so you have to go around. We figured we could just start digging where our path to the pool left off. Except that didn’t work out because the wind completely filled it in. So it goes.

We started shoveling.

20101227_034

20101227_039

20101227_033

I thought we made it pretty far, but…after about an hour, we were losing light, losing steam, and not even halfway there. Epic fail.

It was a valiant attempt, though. I mean, look at this mess.

20101227_047

A phone call ensued.

Dad: “Hello?”

Lisa: “Hi. So, we tried to dig our way to the firehouse to bring you slippers and meatballs, but we didn’t make it.”

Dad: “I told you not to do that.”

Lisa: “I know, but we were pretty bored, so we figured we’d give it a shot. We at least have a really funny video for you to watch if you ever make it home, but don’t expect me to help you shovel anything tomorrow because I’m already pretty sore. Have a good night at the firehouse.”

Dad: “I will.”

I unpacked the supplies and ate one of the sandwiches I made for my dad. My brother and I watched Russell Brand in New York City and Zack Galifianakis Live at The Purple Onion, and then I went to bed.

2010-12-28_09-36-32_160

Remember Christmas morning as a kid? You were so overcome with excitement that as soon as you woke up, you just leaped out of bed and ran for the presents? That’s what I felt like when I heard the sound of a plow outside my window this morning. (Except I was pretty sore from shoveling, so my leap was more like a hoist.)

My dad was down there, too. He managed to walk home on the road once the plow came.

I use the term “plow” quite loosely here. There was some action resembling “plowing” going on down there, but in all honesty, the guy barely made a dent. He said he’d be back by the end of the day with a front loader, and he left his snow blowers for us to borrow. (It’s 10:30 p.m. as I write this, and he’s not back yet.)

20101228_074

20101228_051

20101228_070

20101228_061

20101228_053

20101228_081

20101228_086

We spent the morning walking around outside saying, “Look how deep it is” and “That’s so much snow!” Broken record much?

I’m hoping to one day make it back to Virginia Beach. My Christmas long weekend has morphed into an extended week-long vacation, only I don’t feel like I’m on vacation. More like I’m grounded. And I know for a fact I’m too old to be grounded.

So, by this point, if you’re still reading this, I’m assuming you’re snowed in, too.

Good luck with that.

This crazy trip has got me feelin’: trapped
And I’m singin’ along to: Winter Wonderland – Jason Mraz