Mortgage Meltdown: Wells Fargo bypasses buyers
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Customers ignored, decisions delayed, buyers bypassed, homes lost. Whether it is Bank of America, Chase or, in this case, Wells Fargo. The name of the bank may change but homeowners remain in mortgage meltdown. Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears shows us how bank delays cause deal after deal to fall apart.
"To have these banks make us feel like we're puppets and they can do what they want with us, it's horrible," said JD Brandon.
JD is one of those homeowners who tried to do the right thing.
"We weren't one of the buyers that got frustrated and left the home and busted the windows out," said JD.
Their three children called the place home from a young age. When the economy tanked, JD and his wife lost their overtime income and could no longer afford their mortgage. They tried to refinance at the beginning.
"And just get it going and keep it and they basically told us at that time that they weren't going to work with that," said JD.
So they decided to pursue a short sale. They left all the upgrades like ceiling fans, appliances, wood shutters and even a working television mounted on the wall in one of the bedrooms.
"I still pay the association. I do the right thing. So I figured it would be sold in a week, two weeks," said JD.
Had the bank worked with them from the get - go that may have happened.
"We called and spoke with this guy and he says it's under review, which is what we got all the time. It's under review and we'll get back to you, we'll get back to you. I can't tell you how many times my realtor was told they'd get back to her and they never got back to her," said JD.
Over two years, they've had six different buyers ready to call this place home, but the bank's delay tactics have cost them every last one.
"The original buyer started out, I believe, at $135,000 and now we're down to $85,000. If the banks would have worked with us they would have made $50,000 extra," said JD.
"You get the feeling that they don't care," said Elena Miller, JD's realtor.
"This is probably one of the most extreme cases, but it is very common," said Elena.
She went to on to say that the system needs to be changed.
The problem is compounded for JD and his family because they've got two banks and two mortgages. Wells Fargo is the first and Chase holds a small second.
"Once we get approval from one, the other says, well, we're not gonna do it. Then we get the approval from the other one and Wells Fargo's like, well, no it's expired. It's almost like they work with each other to get the process along so they can just foreclose on the homes," said JD.
JD's realtor has put in over 400 hours going back and forth between Wells Fargo and Chase.
"I talked to some of their employees and they say well, I'm sorry, I have right now 300 files on my desk. Guess where your file is," said Elena.
Elena says Wells Fargo kept changing negotiators.
"And everytime they change the person that you're dealing with, the file has to be reviewed all over again," said Elena.
"For the six buyers that we've gone through, I think we've had to re- submit the information 30 times, And we're talking 90 pages of documents to re-submit, it's frustrating," said JD.
The sixth potential waited on a decision for nearly nine months.
Just when it seemed like the end was finally in sight, the deal was gonna be done and the short sale was about to be approved, this notice announcing another kind of sale appeared on the door, a foreclosure notice, which is exactly what everyone has been working so hard for the last two years to avoid. The notice appeared right in the midst of all the final negotiations.
The sixth buyer walked away. Then came a last minute cash offer from a seventh potential buyer that was even higher than the approved short sale amount.
But Wells Fargo still refused to postpone the foreclosure sale. Housing case workers for Senator Harry Reid and Congressman Shelley Berkley both tried to intervene on the Brandon's behalf but the bank won't budge.
"This economy's never gonna turn around if the banks don't start working with people and helping them out," said JD.
Though the Brandon's house sits on Wizard Wand Street, there's no amount of magic that can save it now.
Wells Fargo refused to do an on camera interview for this story.
In fact, getting responses from them throughout my investigation was like pulling teeth.
When they finally did respond, Wells Fargo blamed the delays on the homeowner and blamed the choice to foreclose on investor Merrill Lynch looking to secure a higher bid on the property. The house sold at auction.
It's stories like this one that caused the Federal Housing Finance Agency to force new rules on the banks.
Starting June 1, lenders must review and respond to short sale requests within 30 days and make a final decision within 60 days. That comes too late for the Brandon family. They've filed a formal complaint against Wells Fargo with Nevada Attorney General.