A Borrowers Responsibility
Two months ago, I wrote about the sub-prime mortgage "crisis". Specifically, I wrote about Mrs. Audrey Sweet and her troubles repaying a loan from Countrywide. Two days ago, Mrs. Sweet stopped by our humble blog to plead her case.
Countrywide forged my loan documents, they lied about the tax amount and my income to get the loan approved then gave me a different set to sign, they broke the law. That is why I was invited to testify before congress regarding my situation. The proof of what they did is in black and white. Because of my interest rate I had already paid back 27% of the amount I was loaned in a mere 30 months.
Mrs. Sweet, I looked up your Senate testimony. It was very enlightening. Let me begin by saying that Countrywide is not a bank I would ever want to do business with. Like you, I find them completely untrustworthy. Like you, I find their lack of accountability and their lack of accessibility to be completely appalling. Unlike you, I'm not sure that I find their conduct illegal, although certainly distasteful.
This is what I learned about your home buying experience.
- You knew you couldn't afford a large monthly payment
- You knew you had been turned down by multiple lenders in the past
- You desparately wanted your piece of the "American Dream".
- You were shocked at the total amount of the monthly mortgage payment
- You took the verbal assurance of a loan officer that your high interest rate could be renegotiated, but didn't ensure that that promise was in writing with specific terms.
- You failed to notice that your loan agreement specified that the interest rate "can only go up never down!".
- You testified that "In the excitement of the moment, I did not focus" on the amount of your total monthly payments.
- You continually fell behind on the mortgage and seriously neglected your property taxes. You left it up to Countrywide to step up and pay the back taxes out of their own funds.
- You admit to signing loan papers that were different from the loan papers that you were given 10 days before closing.
Mrs. Sweet, from what I can see you did not pay enough attention to what was going, what you were signing, or what you could ultimately afford. It was your responsibility to reread the loan papers before signing them. It was your responsibiliy to total up the monthly mortgage and tax payments and realize that it was more than you could afford. Ultimately, it was your responsibility to look out for your own investment rather than assuming that the mortgage company would place your interests above their own.
Growing up, my dad taught me to always assume that I was the only one looking out for myself. When I bought my own house a year ago, I approached both the lender and the real estate agent with that lesson in mind. I knew that they had their own agendas, just as I had my own agenda. I triple-checked every piece of paper I signed and didn't sign the loan documents until I had a clear understanding of exactly what I was committing myself to. I did my own research on the type of loan I was taking out. I did my own research on current interest rates. I asked other people about whether or not the loan made sense. I thought that was the only prudent thing to do.
Countrywide is not responsible for your misjudgments and inattentiveness. They are only responsible for their own sleazy behavior. That sleazy behavior wouldn't have mattered if you had taken more time to research the loan and double check your responsibilities. I'm sorry you had to learn these lessons the hard way, but I sincerely hope that this is the last time you have to go through an experience like this.